Advisor Highlight: Aileen McGraw
October 10, 2022
“There is a beautiful tapestry of innovation, creativity, and answers that Black, Indigenous, people of color, queer, low-income, disabled, rural, and/or gender diverse folks already have and are building. THIS is what excites me about tech startups, and it’s what we need to fund: A richer, more expansive and equitable ecosystem.” our Advisor, Aileen McGraw (she/her) shares.
Aileen has been pivotal in helping provide guidance to the Find Ventures team with our outreach, storytelling, and marketing strategy. She has done and continues to do big things and we couldn’t be more excited about having such a strong supporter and advocate in our corner to lean on. Continue reading to learn more about Aileen and why she’s excited about tech startups and the change that she’s hoping to create in the industry by serving as an Advisor.
Tell us a bit about yourself:
Storytelling is my — and your — superpower. I’m a digital and product marketing leader who loves understanding and unlocking consumer needs and dreams to build brands, scale businesses, and engage communities. My purpose? A world with economic and creative confidence for all. Why marketing? It’s storytelling at scale.
Today I’m helping build out the product marketing function at GoFundMe. Prior to GoFundMe, I delivered market leadership and community trust for mission-driven platforms in big tech, startups and the federal government. Most recently, I served as Director of Marketing at White House Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIF). Before PIF, I led Seattle’s WeWork Labs, an early-stage startup incubator. At Microsoft, I grew developer adoption and advocacy as product marketing lead for Azure Mixed Reality (VR/AR) and helped define Satya Nadella’s social storytelling as CEO Communications Manager. Fun fact: my identical twin (and biggest inspiration!) is a LA-based tattoo artist who embodies how research and community power business. I love fueling community.
What excites you most about tech startups? Any industries in particular?
What excites me most about tech startups is what concerns me most about my life and our world. So many of the well-funded or at-scale products and services that determine our wealth and health are built and owned by wealthy white people. That’s not okay. There is a beautiful tapestry of innovation, creativity, and answers that Black, Indigenous, people of color, queer, low-income, disabled, rural, and/or gender diverse folks already have and are building. THIS is what excites me about tech startups, and it’s what we need to fund: A richer, more expansive and equitable ecosystem.
What change are you hoping to create in the industry by serving as a Find Ventures advisor?
There is something magical and comforting about knowing you are understood, respected, and cherished. Through Find Ventures, I hope to help our community test, fund, validate, and scale solutions that are created by, OWNED by, and deeply care for folks who have been shut out of the industry due to systemic oppression. I hope we can help usher in innovation that honors the call of disability activists: “Nothing about us without us.”
In your experience with startups & entrepreneurs, what’s one of the Founders’ biggest hurdles? What advice would you give Founders facing similar struggles?
One of founders’ biggest hurdles is talking about features, not benefits! Your product capabilities and specs are important, but your customer/user or investors need to understand and believe that they matter. My advice is to list out your key features and write a benefit next to each of them. For example, if one of your features is “one-click signup,” the benefit is ease or saving time. After you pair each feature with a benefit, note themes that emerge. If three key themes surface, those are great candidates for your value propositions.
Name one tech startup & its Founder(s) that you really believe in and want to help amplify.
What one piece of advice would you give to a Founder that is thinking about launching their own tech startup?
Deeply, deeply understand your audience and which of their problems you are solving better than anyone else. As they say, if you are for everyone, you are for no one. Your solution can absolutely scale and serve expansive audiences and markets, but you must get crystal clear on your ideal customer/user and their motivations, pain points, preferences, and behaviors.
Connect with our community by joining us at our upcoming Community Happy Hour on Thursday, October 13th 4 PM – 6 PM.
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To see a full list of all of our advisors check out our Team page.