“Founding to Exit” with Cheryl Contee: Watch the Full Inside “VC” Panel

The Impact Seat Foundation
3 min readAug 30, 2022

This June, we had the honor of joining Goodlight Capital’s “Inside Venture Capital Summit”, where 500+ VC professionals from all over the globe tuned in virtually to learn more about best practices, sustainability, DEI, future of work and more!

During the Summit, our CEO Cheryl Contee explored the tough reality of scaling a business for BIPOC and female founders in her panel, “Founding to Exit”. Moderated by Jacques-Philippe Piverger (Founder & CEO, Goodlight Capital) with behind-the scenes support from Ibraheem Alinur (Dir. of Platform & Community, Goodlight Capital). The panel also featured Michael Lefenfeld (CEO, Cyano).

Behind the Scenes: TISF CEO Cheryl Contee, Ibraheem Alinur (Dir. of Platform & Community, Goodlight Capital), Jacques-Philippe Piverger (Founder & CEO, Goodlight Capital) and Michael Lefenfeld (CEO, Cyano).

Tune in to watch the full panel below, or keep scrolling to read up on some of Cheryl’s key takeaways from the panel!

Cheryl’s Takeaways: Advice on Launch to Exit Success

During Goodlight Capital’s panel, CEO Cheryl Contee touched on her experience successfully exiting her company, Attentive.ly. Cheryl provided her top 5 tips for growing your business and experiencing success as a leader:

  1. “Believe in yourself 110%” — everyone wants to jump on a moving train, and no one will ever believe in you, your team and your concept more than you.
  2. “Fail up like the white guys” — The fear of failure holds a lot of traditionally excluded founders back. BIPOC founders have significantly more shallow resources from which to draw but also women fear both financial fallout and professional stigma. The fact is that 90% of businesses in America fail in the first year, but don’t let that stop you. Don’t be afraid to fail up! Any savvy employer will admire your ambition and recognize that your new executive skills running a biz qualify you for a more senior leadership position inside any organization. You can read more about this in Cheryl’s HBR article, “Advice on Launching a Startup When You’re Not a White Man.”
  3. “Build Your Team” — hire and partner with team members who align with you on values and on mission. Ask yourself what they bring to the equation for growth and whether they match your energy. Surround yourself with a board that complements and positively challenges your leadership style. For more, read our Founder’s new Amazon best selling book, Build Your Board, Build Your Business
  4. Learn more about the lifecycle of a business the more you know, the more you can prepare for the inevitable shifts and pivots that naturally occur over the life of a startup. To learn more about how the lifecycle of a business works, check out Cheryl’s book Mechanical Bull: How You Can Achieve Startup Success.
  5. Don’t wait for the system to let you in…break down the door — check out The Impact Seat Foundation’s grantee Kathryn Finney’s (Founder, Genius Guild) Wall St. Journal bestselling new book Build The Damn Thing: How to Start a Successful Business If You’re Not a Rich White Guy.



The Impact Seat Foundation

Creating a world in which women can succeed as business leaders.