Lisa Hennessy

The investor all entrepreneurial women want to meet

Top business woman Lisa Hennessy shares want she looks for in investments and as an investor in startup companies.

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Lisa Ray Hennessy might not be a name you hear everyday but it’s one that all entrepreneurial women should take note off, especially if they want help financially with getting started.

The American born Harvard business graduate once erred on the side of conservative when it came to investing, but nowadays Lisa is a changed woman.

As a director at investment advisory firm Hennessy a’Beckett and McCrae, Lisa has built an impressive career in Australia including her role as an angel investor when she co-led a $1.25 million investment in Australian software company Switch Automation with Scale, a female focused investor network.

“I had a risk adverse start to my career but then in my early thirties I worked at a series of three startups,” says Lisa tells The Constant Investor.

“One never got off the ground, one got sold and one went public.

“I think it was being in that environment and being in San Francisco at the time you saw things went up and down but overall everything was kind of heading in the upward motion,” says Lisa.

When it comes to risky investments, Lisa’s approach is to have a lot of them and hedge some of the risk. “I don’t have a lot of investments in just one sector, it’s across many,” she says.

Risk aside, Lisa lists her Harvard MBA, which she’s described as an unparalleled student experience, as one of her best investments.

She continues to see the benefits of her education in her career today.

“I’ve realized over the last couple of years in the board positions I’ve had, what my study taught me was how to bring all these complex moving parts together and what are the two or three big issues.”

“What I learned there made me a good general manager and thinker at a CEO level and my networks, I can reach out to just about anybody. Not only my classmates but the alumni database.”

Springboarding her career from Harvard to working with startups in San Francisco, Lisa found herself in Melbourne after marrying an Australian.

Her career to here hasn’t taken a traditional path, she’s built her own interesting jobs to do, her own investment advisory firm and a portfolio of businesses she’s built, invested in or collaborated with.

Starting with smaller organizations, Lisa worked with them on strategy or acquisitions.

“I didn’t know how to start here, it’s a hard network to get into. People in Melbourne have lived and worked here all their lives, so I really had to start small.”

Circling back to her love of startups, she began angel investing through Scale Investors, working with high growth businesses and early stage businesses led by women.

“Angel investing is very early stages, very high risk, obviously high opportunity but sometimes before market validation.

“Most of the time they have the product idea and a prototype and maybe a few customers but a lot of the time it’s before market validation.”

Lisa also has some advice for those chasing funding via angel investing networks; think like a serial entrepreneur and always be looking for the exit.

“What angel investors want is for someone to be thinking about the exit.

“We don’t want to be working with someone we think is a lifestyle business and that’s someone who wants to earn a pay cheque and run a lifestyle business for thirty years”

When it comes to maximizing time, entrepreneurs would benefit from adopting some of Lisa’s productivity and lifestyle habits too.

An early riser, she’s up at 5.30am most days to maximize productivity during those precious morning hours.

She spends half an hour reviewing her inbox every morning at home, flagging important emails and then spends two hours a day making her way through them.

In spite of all the demands on her time, Lisa stays positive and energized “I have to get myself out and go for a run, I have to do something for myself. Once or twice a week I just have to do something for me.”

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