Staci Latoison, Founder and CEO of Dream Big Ventures, tackles the disheartening statistic that only 2% of investment funds go to female founders and injects some serious girl power into the Softeq Venture Studio. As a former Chevron manager, Staci learned the importance of giving women of color the opportunity to speak up in business settings. Now, tackling the venture world, Staci aims to put women and BIPOC led startups on the map and to show what women can accomplish when they invest in themselves.
Keep up with our guest Staci Latoison on LinkedIn
Learn more about Dream Big Ventures on LinkedIn and the Dream Big Ventures website
Connect with Chris Howard on LinkedIn
Check out Softeq on the Softeq website
[00:00] Podcast begins - A Women-Led Future in Venture Capital
[01:54] Finding a career path as a young Latina single mom in Houston
[04:41] Internships as a lifeline for up-and-coming professionals
[07:48] Taking advantage of her venture capital dream at Columbia Business School
[13:15] Speaking at the Hispanic Association & showing up at networking events
[16:25] Being intentional & getting involved with Houston Women's Investment Group
[22:23] Forging a minority-founded & women-led future in Texas
You mention being a product of internships. What was your internship experience like?
Although Staci was a student at U of H, the internship experience that transformed her career and set her up for success wasn’t through the university’s co-op program. Instead, Staci was granted the opportunity to intern at Chevron, a company she later spent 22 years working for, by someone paying it forward. As a young single mom, Staci was granted her internship opportunity by a woman who once walked in her shoes, showing Staci the value of giving back.
“I'm a product of an internship. That experience is invaluable for students. To have that firsthand real-life industry experience, it's even greater than being in the classroom. It's extremely important to me to give back to the community.”
You're an expat, you had these assignments that Chevron, you got to travel, but you're in venture now. How did that happen?
We all have that little voice in our heads that asks, “What if?” For Staci, that little voice became a loud roar that demanded her attention when she realized how attuned her skills were for the venture capital world. With experience in networking, finances, and negotiations, Staci knew there was a place for her as a VC investor-- and she realized there was a huge opportunity waiting for her help when she learned that only 2% of VC funds go to women founders.
“I was going to the Ion all the time because Chevron has an office there. I was working a lot with the tech ventures team. Even being in the building, I could feel the energy. I was drawn to the founders. I think it's so interesting, sitting down with them and learning what they're building.”
How have you prioritized investing in yourself long term?
Taking advantage of her venture capital dreams and embarking on a degree program at Columbia was just the tip of the iceberg for Staci’s investment in herself and Big Dream Ventures. Currently, Staci continues that self-investment by taking full advantage of programs, organizations, and events with local ties to the Houston area. Speaking engagements, networking events, educational seminars, you name it! Staci is there, ready to learn and grow.
“Anytime there's a free program going on at the Ion or somewhere around Houston, you're gonna see me there because I think this is an opportunity to grow and to absorb all this great information from experienced people.”
How are you forging the future in venture capital at Dream Big Ventures?
Intentionality and diversity are the two elements that make it possible for Staci to forge the future with her own company, Dream Big Ventures. Someone needs to step up to show young women and diverse entrepreneurs that their skills, ideas, and businesses are needed and wanted. Staci is happy to be that person and is excited to continue to give back alongside Softeq Venture Studios.
“At Dream Big Ventures, the majority of our investments are women and diverse founders. I am being intentional to make a change and also, to inspire young women, young entrepreneurs, or even any age, that you can have a career here.”