Koplovitz’s Springboard for women in technology
As Kay Koplovitz made her mark on the media and sports business in the 1970s, she almost always was the only woman in the room.
“I was more of an anomaly in the ’70s, but I never really thought that much about it at all,” she said. “I was just in business and I thought this was a great opportunity.”
For the past 18 years, though, Koplovitz has been trying to help women make their own mark, especially in the technology field.
In 2000, she started a venture capital firm called Springboard Enterprises designed to raise money for women in technology. So far, it has raised around $8 billion, according to Koplovitz’s husband, Bill.
Since its launch, Koplovitz’s program has expanded internationally, into Australia and Israel. It also has expanded into media tech, financial tech, cyber security and fashion tech.
“This is my moon shot,” she said. “I want women to have parity, and I know they’ll just do great.”
Koplovitz recalls hearing doubts when she first started that she would find enough bona fide candidates.
“When we did our first call out for applications in 1999, people said, ‘You’re not going to find women in technology,’” she said. “I said, ‘I don’t believe that. They’re there. At least we’re going to go out and see if we can find them.’”
Koplovitz recalls getting 350 applications from women in technology and science. She whittled it down to 26 and put those applicants through a training program to teach them how to raise capital, after which 22 of the 26 were funded, which included two entrepreneurs who merged their companies and one woman who sold her business.
One of the more successful projects that’s come out of Springboard was a biometric Fitbit that was developed by an astronaut.
“You get to see these things coming years beforehand,” she said. “That’s why, to me, it’s so fascinating.”
The reasons she invests in projects have little to do with the actual technology.
“It’s always about the people,” she said. “A lot of people are passionate. But do they have a vision? Do I believe they can execute? Can they get the right team around them? Those are the kinds of questions that we have to ask.”