Oldest of five children: Carolina Galdiz on Kellogg, Blueprint advice
Tell us about you.
I’m the oldest of five kids, and I share that because it has a lot to do with who I am as a person. I have a lot of energy. From a young age, I had to learn how to win people over without having real authority over them. And, you know, get everyone working toward a common goal like getting us all excited about going to my little brother’s soccer game on a hot summer afternoon, or put their plates in the sink after dinner, or whatever it was that day.
My roles have had similar threads to that. So I worked in consulting, where again, you don’t really have authority, and you’re trying to understand the problem and getting everyone to follow a recommendation. I worked in product management, both at a publicly traded consumer marketplace called Care.com and at a smaller health tech company called Seniorlink. In product roles, you’re not the manager of the engineering team, but you have to get buy-in from all these different groups of people. That’s something I really enjoyed trying to understand: how different groups of people work, how we can all work together, and how we can get something over the line. It felt natural to bring that energy to founders at the early stage.
Why entrepreneurship and VC?
My parents are from Argentina and we had a furniture store growing up. So I watched them navigate and operate a small business and not really have access to capital or formal business training. We ultimately had to close the business during the 2008 Recession when a lot of other small businesses closed. But I think it gave me a different appreciation for them as professionals, running a business and doing their professional life in a second language.
Parallel to my time working in tech, I also did pro-bono consulting working with small business owners that were from underserved communities in the Boston area. So I’ve always been passionate about small businesses, especially underrepresented entrepreneurs. When the opportunity presented itself to intern at Chingona Ventures with Samara, who is one of the 2% of women Latina VCs, I really couldn’t pass it up. And that’s what led me to pursue early stage Venture and DRF.
What’s the value of an MBA as you consider VC?
I got into Kellogg a year ago and deferred because of the pandemic. I had a year to do a lot of soul searching, which I know is a luxury that many people do not have. But I hadn’t decided on VC before I got into Kellogg. Even before starting at Kellogg, there are times that we’re looking at a deal in a space that I’m not familiar with, and I was already reaching out to future classmates of mine and saying, “Who’s worked in gaming? Or who’s worked in cosmetics?” And it was one of the most effective and fastest diligence channels ever — just the access to such a range of industry domain expertise. The pay it forward culture that’s a part of Kellogg’s reputation has definitely already proven itself to me even before starting there.
What have you learned from Blueprint?
I’ve gotten a couple of great pieces of advice. Number one from my senior mentor, Susan Lyne, who is the Founding Partner of BBG Ventures. She encouraged me to look at my story and rather think about it chronologically, find a thread. She’s actually also the oldest of five kids, so we had a whole moment around the qualities that it brings out and how that translates well to the early stage.
I also think about founders that I relate to, and it’s always when they craft their story around a theme or one story that pulls you in, then you totally get what they’re trying to do.
Another piece of advice that I got from Chris Quaidoo, who’s one of the organizers of Blueprint, was that I’m starting business school in the fall, so should I take on a fall internship or assess different opportunities? I’ve been getting a lot of pushback from folks regarding interning in first year fall. What Chris said was that the people you see in venture crushing it during school and getting full time offers are willing to make those other sacrifices around their time. And the reality is, if you know going into business school that you want to do venture full time, that’s a very different position than other people that are identifying what they want to do. You’re not going to work in consulting or investment banking, so your fall where you might be otherwise recruiting for those things is very much freed up. That was an excellent thing to point out in the sense that everyone has a certain amount of hours per day, but the deal experience is something that matters a lot if you’re in the ecosystem, and so the idea of having this amazing opportunity at Chingona this summer, stepping away for X number of months and then trying to come back to it would be a mistake if I have the opportunity to stay on. So it was just good to be reminded of the commitment I’ve made to myself.
And I actually wanted to share one more piece of advice that I got from Jarrod Barnes, another organizer of Blueprint, with regards to staying organized and the nature of it being a super relationship driven industry. He suggested getting a personal CRM to manage those touchpoints. We all use CRMs as we manage deal flow within our funds, but the idea of having a personal CRM and cataloging deals that I’ve been involved within other industries helps me the impact I’ve had. So three very concrete takeaways there from the program.