Caffeinated Innovation with Jeanne Cunicelli

Last Thursday, Jeanne Cunicelli, EVP at UPMC Enterprises, joined Yvonne Campos, President of Next Act Fund, and Liz Todia, Analyst at Mutual Capital Partners, on a panel at Pittsburgh’s Innovation Works to discuss women investors and firms that specifically invest in women-led and founded businesses.

Pam Eichenbaum, Business Development Associate at Innovation Works, moderated the panel and opened with general questions about investing strategies before diving deeper into specific recommendations for women entrepreneurs and investors.

Jeanne’s advice was simple: “Your drive, passion, and the people you work with are just as important as your business plan.” Yvonne and Liz echoed the importance of having a strong leader and also sticking with it and grinding through the “Valley of Death” and other difficult times that entrepreneurs face.

Jeanne Cunicelli (with microphone), Yvonne Campos (right), President of Next Act Fund, and Liz Todia (left center), Analyst at Mutual Capital Partners, and Pam Eichenbaum (far left), Business Development Associate at Innovation Works

The panelists shared a common outlook when it came to the importance of not defining yourself by past experiences, failures, or even college degrees. Both Jeanne and Yvonne studied and practiced in education before making the transition to the investing world.

Several times, Yvonne called upon the audience to be constantly involved and to be investing more. There are approximately 25,000 women in the Pittsburgh region who qualify as angel investors, but only a fraction who actually give to startups and larger funds.

The panel closed with a Q&A and final thoughts from the panelists. Jeanne’s message was one of hope. “It’s important to remember that it’s okay to be different. It’s okay to be an entrepreneur. It shows me courage to see so many strong women today in this room and that makes me hopeful for the future.”

For more information on the event, see the panel write up by the Pittsburgh Business Times.