In this edition of Lived It, we sit down with Lally Rementilla, co-founder of The Gal’s Got Game, a busy woman’s toolkit for keeping up to date on sports through daily e-newsletters and unique sports events — so they can participate in conversations about top stories, personalities, and events. Lally is passionate about helping professional women get ahead in their careers by talking (and living) a big game.
If there’s anyone who knows how women can advance their careers, it’s Lally Rementilla. In addition to founding her personal angel investing practice, Coco Capital, Lally is also the Head of Finance of Nulogy Corporation, a software company providing a platform to make it easier for companies to deliver personalized products to consumers. It’s Lally’s interest in women’s business where she’s thrived and also helped others to succeed along the way. Lally sat down with the Female Funders team to bring even more women into the conversation.
In this interview, we talk to Lally about how investing runs in her family, gut checks, and how the relationship between the entrepreneur and investor can make or break a deal.
Years as an angel investor: 3 Number of investments: 10+
Lally’s first investment was in the brand that she co-founded. The Gal’s Got Game is one of Lally’s highest priority investments and she spends about five hours per week working on it, compared to some of her other investments where she’s less hands-on and only hears from the CEO about twice per year.
“My career has traditionally been in digital media. Back in 2004 and 2010, I was part of the team that had sold Lavalife, the online dating company. Coming out of that, it was one of those moments wherein I really wanted to think about what I am going to be doing next. I went through a phase where I tried to get down to what my passions were. I realized that my passion and identity was all about women and definitely advocating for them. I had come to understand that the next thing that I’m going to be doing had to be related to women and that it was to help advance them.”
“I went through a phase where I tried to get down to what my passions were. I realized that my passion and identity was all about women and definitely advocating for them.”
Lally’s co-founder shared that passion. “We developed the idea to help busy professional women join more conversations in the workplace. We found that, similar to ourselves, we were always starting to get shut off from sports conversations. We believed that engaging more women in sports would promote more inclusiveness and more collaboration since it will be easier for women to find common ground with their colleagues and clients at work. That was when The Gal’s Got Game was born.
“I was raised in a family environment where investing was very much encouraged. My grandmother and mother were both successful entrepreneurs and investors. Back in my 20s, my brother and I started doing real estate investments. That paid off really well, because it gave us enough capital to work with. All throughout my 20s and 30s I focused on saving money and then investing in the public markets – stocks, bonds and mutual funds. The first meaningful private equity investment that I made was back three years ago in The Gal’s Got Game.”
Investing in The Gal’s Got Game spurred Lally’s passion and interest in female investing (investing in female-led companies or in high-growth, female-oriented businesses). Lally made that first investment through her personal angel investing practice called Coco Capital and continues to use that vehicle to expand her investing opportunities.
“One of the investments I’ve made is in an impact venture fund called Pique Ventures which is based out of Vancouver. I’m on the investment committee at Pique Ventures, so I see BC-based deals. Pique Ventures only invests in BC companies. I can’t refer Toronto-based companies to them, but they can definitely refer BC-based companies to me.”
“Typically, all my other investments have been ones wherein I start off advising women.”
“The Gal’s Got Game is probably more of an anomaly, because I am very active in making it grow. Typically, all my other investments have been ones wherein I start off advising women. A lot of my career has been in finance, with a focus on fundraising and general financial management of businesses. A lot of women come to me asking for advice on raising capital or how to prepare for a round. Some of them parlay into actual opportunities for me to invest in their businesses.
“Angel investors don’t get a lot of that information about how the company is doing. But, that’s always a key factor. The relationship that you have with the CEO and your ability to keep in contact with them throughout the year is critical to understanding how your investment is doing. Even if I don’t have information, I try to touch base with the CEO as often as I can to get business updates. In some cases, if I know that that CEO is speaking at an event then I try to make that event and can see what’s happening to the business that way.”
It’s my way of marrying my passion for women and strength in finance, strategy and tech.
“It does tend to be someone within my network who I’ve known for a while, I’d say because of my background and reputation in finance. It’s fairly rare to find a lot of women who tend to give advice on financial matters such as this. I think a lot of these relationships start from an advisory basis and then some of them grow into more of an investment discussion. I get some from LinkedIn. I get a lot of ‘cold call emails.’ I’ve been an active networker for quite a while. Both women and men in my network tend to refer a few deals over. Deals tend to be very varied. I can have deals in film and television on the one hand and then software on the other.
“I’ve made one or two gut investments, where I manage risk by writing smaller checks. Then, for the deals where I do a great deal of due diligence, I tend to write larger checks.”
“My finance and analytics background has given me a lot of discipline in the investment process. Plus I have done mergers and acquisitions work which sharpened my nose for due diligence. Investing is one of those professions or practices where the older you get then the better you can get. You’ve seen a lot more of what’s happening in the market. You’ve seen so many business cycles come and go. You definitely learn from them.”
“How I manage risk, is the deal size or the amount of investment that I make. Whether it be an initial investment or follow-on investment, that factors into the equation. I’ve made one or two gut investments, where I manage risk by writing smaller checks. Then, for the deals where I do a great deal of due diligence, I tend to write larger checks.”
“I take inspiration from Joanne Wilson (aka Gotham Gal) out of New York City. She has been very supportive of what I’ve done and has encouraged me. I follow her blog and send her a progress report at least once a year of what I’m doing. I don’t have to do it but I do. She’s my cheerleader. It’s an accountability exercise for me. I tell myself that I have to write something to Joanne every year, and every year I’m going to have to tell her what I’ve done.”
“I see a HUGE opportunity in female markets. My passion has always been in women, therefore I invest with that passion in mind.”
“Coco Capital’s whole investment thesis is capitalizing on the high growth female market. I specifically invest in female-led companies as well as companies that are addressing the needs of a high-growth female audience or market. I do have a more specific philosophy. I see a HUGE opportunity in female markets. My passion has always been in women, therefore I invest with that passion in mind.
“The one criterion that I have is looking at businesses that I would have started myself or one where I have really good domain expertise in. This is because I can add value. It makes my due diligence much easier. The investments I’ve made have been definitely female-led or addressing female markets. I have tons of experience in software, e-commerce and digital media. Through Pique, we recently closed an investment in Wearable Therapeutics, the maker of SnugVest. That was my first involvement in the wearable space.”
“I see a lot of companies with products or services that geared towards women. Those are the ones, quite frankly, which some other investors, specifically male investors, have difficulty understanding.”
“Get some form of inspiration and look to one or two people who are already active angel investors. Talk to them, and ask them more about what it is to be an angel investor and how they got into it. You’re going to have to really understand the discipline behind angel investing. If you don’t have an investment or finance background, having a mentor would be advisable.”
Lally recommends joining an angel network or forming your own informal network to be a part of a community. The resources and support can be endless. Once you have a mentor and network in place, Lally says it’s crucial to avoid rushing to make that first investment.
“Get a handle of what the deals are out there. At the same time, form some sort of a thesis so that you become more selective over where you spend your time and your money.” Both your limited capital and time you can spend researching are why you need to be selective. Being disciplined about what and who you invest in is “a fine balance,” she said.
When it comes to making mistakes, there is always an opportunity to learn and grow. One of the biggest “mistakes” Lally sees on the start-up side is entrepreneurs being a bit late on networking with potential investors.
“Get some form of inspiration and look to one or two people who are already active angel investors.”
“It’s not really a mistake. It’s more of an “Aha!” moment that I tend to see. A lot of women tend to think that you only network with investors once you’re trying to raise money. The advice that I give them is that it’s never too early to establish relationships with these investors. Get on their radar now. Now your financials down pat so that you know when you’ll need cash then create a market for investment before it’s too late.”
That being said, it’s also key for investors to also do their due diligence. When meeting with entrepreneurs, Lally advises looking at the vision of the founder or of the CEO and ask them about their commitment and conviction to their vision. Another key point investors need to know about is how the startup team is going to find talent.
“Because I tend to invest in more IT-based businesses, their strategies for finding, attracting, and retaining talent will be very key. I also try to get down to the founder’s personal motivation – why they’re doing this. Some of this all boils down to what your life experience has been and how has that life experience affected your decision to start this company and to grow it.”
“I also try to get down to the founder’s motivation – why they’re doing this. Some of this all boils down to what your life experience has been and how has that life experience affected your decision to start this company and to grow it.”
“I don’t have a website. I’ve been too busy doing the actual investing. I haven’t really thought about anything else. I don’t have even an email address or business cards. The only way people can reach me is either through LinkedIn or emailing directly at email@example.com. Send me an email and tell me what it is that you’re looking for and how I can help you. It doesn’t have to be a direct pitch. I’d probably be more interested in how I can help you in general than how much money you’re raising. My response time is not very quick with everything else going on. Patience is good, but follow up would be good as well.”