Christina Brodbeck: Angel Investing & Startups

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Video interview with Christina Brodbeck, CoFounder The Icebreak, a fun and new service that helps couples to create more rewarding relationships with snack-sized activities that take no more than two minutes a day. Facebook is for friends, dating sites are for singles, theicebreak is for couples. Prior to theicebreak, Christina was a founding team member at YouTube and the company’s first UI Designer. She later went on to lead UI for YouTube Mobile, is an active angel investor, and mentors at various places including 500 Startups and The Designer Fund.

Transcript follows & video above

I know that you’re an investor as well as an entrepreneur. Could you tell me what you’re interested in investing? What are the things that really fascinate you, the businesses that fascinate you?

I think because I’m an angel investor instead of an institutional investor, a lot of it is what personally interests me. Instead of oh this is going to get me a huge return. Areas that I’m particularly interested in are mobile because I have a background in mobile UI. Also things that solve email problems, I’m really interested in that & productivity & utility tools. Also things that appeal to a female consumer demographic.

Great & have you invested in many female founded businesses?

Yeah I have, I’m trying to think. Probably at least 3 or 4 of the 15 companies I’ve invested in.

Great & I guess if you’re an angel investor, you obviously help the founders get their business going as well as the actual money that you invest.

Yes, since I don’t invest a large amount, I’m a smaller angel investor. A lot of what I do is try & give back in terms of time. Since my background is UX & UI, most of the time I spend with companies is helping them with that.

That’s really great. You’ve got a fascinating business of your own. I’m particularly interested in it because my last startup was an online matchmaking algorithim for online dating sites. So I’d love you to talk a little about that business & how you evolved that.

Yes so the service is called The Icebreak and it’s a mobile app. We just released our iphone app about a month ago & then also a website. It’s for people who are already in existing couples, married, engaged or if you’re dating somebody. We help make your relationship & continue to make your relationship awesome. We give you fun activities that you can do & things to do to communicate & stuff like that.

What’s your secret ingredient behind the actual process & games that you offer?

A lot of it is taking a relationship that you already have & is probably a really good relationship. Or at least a relationship that you enjoy. Then giving you small nudges & small pushes but in a very fun game like manner that enhances your relationship. We don’t want it to seem like work, it’s taking something & making it very fun.

And what sort of responses have you had?

Yeah it’s been really interesting. I’ve learned a lot of things about men & women & how they think differently & how they approach relationship differently in the course of doing this.

Fabulous. Now something that I get quite a few emails from female founders is that they’re interested in how to get involved in 500 Startups incubator. I know that you’re one of the mentors. I wondered if you’ve got any tips for female founders who are interested in that?

Yes, I think honestly a lot of it (& this doesn’t just apply to 500Startups, also just to incubators or anyone in general) is Persistence & knocking on a lot of doors. I’d say the best way to get in touch with Dave or any of the people who are partners there is to go through the mentors. Try & establish a relationship with them. Maybe look them up on the mentor’s page & try & start a conversation with somebody who has either invested in, mentored or advised or started a company possibly in the similar demographic as your own. Just start a conversation with them. Then hopefully something will develop into an introduction.

As you said research really helps because then you can see whether or not they would be female founder friendly.

Right, exactly & as a whole 500 Startups is very female founder friendly. So you’re starting in a good place.

Fabulous, you don’t have to jump any hurdles.

Right exactly.

I know I’ve read in the past a couple of articles that have either mentioned you or you’ve actually written about women & startups. I just wondered if you’ve noticed any differences for female founders in the last couple of years.

I think now people are recognizing that a lot of spending & a lot of the consumption & the time that is being spent online is done by female consumers. So I think now there is a shift where investors are at least taking note of companies that are appealing to that demographic & they’re willing to put more money into them. I think the next step, the step beyond that is let’s invest in more female founders so they can start more companies.

I just read, I think yesterday, that there’s a female venture capitalist firm just opened & has just invested in a female founded company. Gee even in a year, I’ve seen massive, massive change of consciousness around it.

Yes it’s really cool, it’s awesome.

Thank you again for your time, it’s been delightful interviewing you.

Thank you so much

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Pemo Theodore

Pemo Theodore is a Media Publisher and a great people connector. She was Founder Silicon Valley TV which served the San Francisco Bay Area for 10 years! She has produced Silicon Valley Events for Investors & Startups for 10 years. Pemo loves to video interview venture capitalists & founders to engage the human behind the success stories.. She has been Executive Producer of FinTech Silicon Valley for 6 years, organizing twice monthly FinTech talks & panels in San Francisco & Palo Alto and audio podcasts. She believes in learning through a great discussion with experts in the domains. Pemo has a talent to bring the right people together and is an incredible networker. Pemo's events have been seen as supporting Venture Capitalists & Angels in sourcing great deal flow from startups who attend her events. Many founders have received funding through meeting investors at her events. Her favored medium is audio & visual media and she has built up a great body of work of videos of panels & interviews and podcasts in Silicon Valley startup ecosystem. She has lived & worked in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, London, Northern Ireland & Silicon Valley. Bio

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Written by Pemo Theodore