Why two SMU alums focus their funding on female entrepreneurs

Investing in startups has become a side project for finance professionals Louise Kee and Laura Baldwin.

By Melissa Repko
Staff Writer

Investing in startups has become a side project for finance professionals Louise Kee and Laura Baldwin. They are part of the Dallas leadership team for Golden Seeds, a New York-based early-stage investment firm that’s focused on women-led startups. As part of their role, they advocate on behalf of Texas startups and hold office hours at University of Texas at Dallas, where they advise aspiring entrepreneurs.

Since 2005, Golden Seeds’ over 275 members have invested around $90 million in more than 85 women-led ventures. That includes four investments in Texas. Investors can be women or men, but startups must have a woman in the C-suite to be eligible for funding. All Golden Seeds members must be accredited investors and must invest a minimum of $25,000 per year. Golden Seeds offers investor training about topics from vetting startups to calculating valuations.

Kee and Baldwin spoke recently about why they began investing with Golden Seeds. Their answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Why did you begin investing in startups?

Kee: I came from a corporate background, and I was looking for some other types of investments. When I heard about Golden Seeds, I really liked what they were doing with the focus on women-owned and women-led companies. It's been about six years for me.

Baldwin: I did my first investment through Golden Seeds about five years ago. In the back of my mind since I was in my 20s, I've always wanted to start a company, and it just never worked out. There came to be a time in my life when I thought 'Maybe I could do that.' I mentioned that to some friends and said, 'I think it'd be interesting to start a company' and one of them said, 'Why don't you invest in companies instead? I'm a member of this group called Golden Seeds and you should take a look at it.' I did and I really got hooked on it, so that's my passion now — investing in companies rather than starting one.

What inspired you to join Golden Seeds? What was it about the mission or the ideas?

Kee: The companies we see truly are going to make a difference in this world. They are truly going to change people's lives. I can tell you about dozens of them, but I picked out one of them. It's called Cognition Therapeutics. I was first introduced to them when I joined Golden Seeds, and they were an early-stage company trying to find a treatment for Alzheimer's. ...Five years later, they're progressing, and they're now in clinical trials. It's companies like that that really make a difference. It's inspiring to hear their stories.

Also, women don't get funded at the same rate as men. I really felt like there were some good opportunities out there to invest in women-led companies that were overlooked by other groups. I do believe that's true.  

Baldwin: I joined because of the focus on investing in women and getting a return on my investment. The member network and the people I've met are great, too. When I go up to New York [to Golden Seeds' headquarters], I have dinner with a lot of members and have made a lot of friends and met people with all different areas of expertise, which is great when you're evaluating a startup.


Read the full interview.