The Art of Feminine Financing with Sara Batterby
"I feel the reason women take to fundraising well is because they begin to believe in themselves and know that they can do it."
Last year, she was named by the Portland Business Journal as one of the ten ‘Executives to Watch’ in 2017. She has helped numerous cannabis companies, mostly women-led, raise millions of dollars. With a background in technology and over 20 years of financial experience, Sara Batterby is on a mission to educate and empower women all over the country to embrace financial opportunities and raise money for their companies!
Before entering the cannabis industry, Sara co-founded an early stage venture fund in Silicon Valley with the goal of helping investors understand the powerful business case for investing in women. In 2014, she moved to Portland, Oregon and built a cannabis cultivation company called HiFi Farms, based in Hillsboro which specialized in Clean Green Certified craft cannabis. The next year, she became the Founding Chair of the Women Grow Chapter in Portland, which became one of the largest female professional network groups in the cannabis industry. Upon exiting HiFi Farms in 2017, she established the Batterby Group to educate and empower a diverse group of entrepreneurs who seek access to capital for their growing ventures.
A member of the Oregon Cannabis Association, and a Board Member to both Women Led and the Resource Innovation Institute, Sara Batterby is a powerful woman. And now this fascinating beauty is changing women’s lives by empowering them with the financial tools they need to achieve their goals.
Tell us about the “Art of Feminine Financing?” I raised over $5 million in two years for Hifi Farms and I realized that there should be more women doing the same. I figured no one was really addressing the gap in education around fundraising and I felt I needed to. I wanted to educate women especially in raising money to do what they want to do. When I was asked to speak about fundraising at a Women Grow Summit, I didn’t want to talk about myself. I wanted to create a workshop on how to do it. What to do and, more importantly actually, what not to do. That speech was called the “Feminine Art of Fundraising” and that is how I started to codify what I was doing that I believed was making my fundraising efforts successful. It all happened organically and now I work with some amazing female clients and host a Capital Masterclass for female entrepreneurs here in Portland. Soon I hope to be delivering this critical content through intensive workshops all across the country.
What is your goal through all of this? To get women to the point where they feel "OK, I can do this." When that happens something changes and women are really amazing at fundraising because they tend to be great at building relationships and communication. They have to feel prepared and competent in the task, but once that happens they are unstoppable.
What do you feel the future holds for financing and business operations in the industry? I feel it will continue to be a huge rush of money that will mostly get plopped into companies exclusively run by men. I believe women and minorities have not circulated in network where money is generally exchanged and fundraising is treated like a network strength and not a skillset which, ultimately, it is. I created “Courting Angels” which is a strategy designed for for first-time fundraisers. It delivers a structure for preparing and executing your raise. We add technical and tactical support on incorporation, investment structures, investor protections, governance and so on, to a really unique methodology for engaging and converting investor interest into capital. At this point, I can say with complete confidence that it works and a lot of women led companies are funded because of it. That is incredibly rewarding and exciting for me.
Why do you think less women have been involved in the opportunity that is available in the industry? Women don't feel prepared and that prevents them from going out and asking for money. Women are amazing at raising money but generally won’t do things that they do not feel prepared for. The truth is nobody is really taught to raise money but it's much easier for people who come from communities where money is exchanged within established networks. These communities tend to be white and male.
What is the biggest challenge you face as a women in the industry? I don’t face any different challenges than in any other industries I have been involved in which have been technology, finance and business. Unfortunately there is a deeply entrenched, low grade sexism in pretty much every professional industry. In particular as a leader, especially as a CEO, it's tough being a woman sometimes. The responsibility of the CEO is to be 100% responsible for performance in the company which means you have to insist on a high degree of accountability and performance in your team. This can be extremely difficult because it means being tough and that often get's you labelled as a bully or a bitch. I have certainly had my fair share of that but ultimately, my problem was that I wasn't tough enough and struggled to choose being unpopular and effective over being popular and less effective. It's not a fun line to have to walk.
What excites you most about the industry? Hemp! It’s a massive agriculture commodity that has such powerful potential. It is also exciting and interesting to be around so many entrepreneurs with exciting visions and so much energy.
What can you tell other women who want to purse a cannabis career? Learn to raise money and just go for it. Be aware and know there is space and room to grow. Don’t let feelings of being unprepared stop you! Get past whatever it is you don't understand or don’t feel qualified for. We need diversity and a lot of women professionals who have been involved in marketing, finance, technology, beauty, wherever their passion lies.
Five things people don’t know about you?
1. I am half Maltese – my mother is from Malta.
2. I am ambidextrous.
3. I am dyslexic.
4. My first job was lambing in a Wellington, a village in England.
5. I am obsessed with houses and real estate.
Anything you cant live without? My dogs – Rosie, Frea and Pippy
Favorite fashion designer and why? Channel because it's classic and timeless.
Favorite thing to smoke? I love smoking a CBD/Hemp joint and love Cherry Wine. I also love tinctures by Luminous Botanicals and Danodan Grassworks.
Any closing thoughts? Yes, I feel the reason women take to fundraising well is because they begin to believe in themselves when they realize they can do it. Cannabis is an industry full of dreams! But also a lot of challenge, I would encourage anyone to spend a few minutes out of the day believing in yourself and being nice to yourself.
To Connect with Sara, visit: https://www.batterbygroup.com/