• Alicia Caldeira

Amy Duffuor: Principal Investor, Venture Capital Expert, Global Traveller, & SBW 2020 Speaker


Amy Duffuor


Amy Duffuor, Principal at Prime Impact Fund joined me this week for our Featured Startuper series, where we are excited to introduce you to some of our speakers and the work they’re doing in the startup space. Read on for a glimpse into the conversation at our upcoming Startup Boston Week 2020 event: Show Me the Money: Evaluating and Building Relationships with Investors.


When I first met Amy, her enthusiasm and passion for helping entrepreneurs was inspiring. Her professional background spans business, finance, and impact on three continents. Upon meeting Amy, I was eager to learn more about her experiences working in Southeast Asia and learn more about what has been the driving factors to her success.


Amy: I've always had a hybrid business, finance, and impact background. I started my career in operations-focused management consulting. I ended up moving to impact investing in emerging and frontier markets while based in Southeast Asia. I was running early-stage social venture accelerators around the region and working with startups, which really invigorated my passion for working with entrepreneurs and helping them build their business. I decided I wanted to transition from the operations side of the broader impact space to the investing side, which is how I found my way into venture. When I was in Singapore, I was focused on healthcare, education, and financial inclusion and clean energy companies. I became really religious about climate change because I figured if we don't solve this, nothing else matters. There are so many intersectional impacts with other traditional sectors, and I wanted to make that transition to focus on investing within the broader climate space.


Alicia: What in your field has inspired you lately?


Amy: One thing that's been nice to see is there's been a lot more attention paid to demographic disparities, both in terms of venture-backed founders as well as venture investors. There are very few people of color and very few women. And this broader moment that we're in around racial equity has forced a lot of venture funds to take a hard look at their own practices. And hopefully, that's going to be a long term change.


Alicia: What are some of your passions and hobbies outside of work?


Amy: I'll break it down to pre-quarantine and post-pandemic. Pre-quarantine, I loved to travel. One of my favorite things is to explore a new place and get a sense of a new culture. I feel very privileged that I've been able to do that throughout my life and that the jobs I've taken have allowed me to travel. I really like art, art galleries, and art museums. I love using a different part of my brain, so for a while I was doing life drawing. During the pandemic I've picked up cooking. I also recently bought a bike and so I'm very committed to exploring different neighborhoods in Boston.


Alicia: Could you share with me the key topics that you're going to be discussing during your event?


Amy: I'll be touching on points around startups taking the time to research the investor or the groups of investors they are speaking to.


From a Prime Impact Fund lens, we care about transformative technology companies with the potential for gigaton-scale climate impact. We also think about macro trends, the fact that we are in a pandemic, and in a pretty shaky economic environment. For many venture funds it's harder for them to disperse and deploy capital. In some ways, people are focusing more on their existing portfolios instead of making new investments.


The last thing about knowing your investor is being very clear on your value proposition but also showing humility and thoughtfulness when it comes to answering questions. That trait usually bodes well because ultimately investors want to know whether early stage teams are coachable and adaptable and that thoughtfulness lends well to that.


Alicia: What is your favorite piece of advice that you give startups when trying to build strong partnerships?


Amy: Strength and vision are paramount, but also having some humility is really important. Startups should be thoughtful about who they want to partner with as their investors because if somebody invests in your company, it's very likely that that's a long term relationship. It is in many ways a marriage, so I really appreciate when founders are also as thoughtful about getting to know us as we are about getting to know them during a due diligence process.


We’re hands-on with our portfolio companies—not all investors are created equal, and naturally not all might be the right fit for your business’ mission or vision. You need to know what you prioritize and need support on, and be clear about the types of money you are comfortable taking.


Want to hear more from Amy? Check out Show Me the Money: Evaluating and Building Relationships with Investors. It’s part of the Founder & C-Suite Track at Startup Boston Week 2020. See you there!

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