It isn’t easy to be a #GIRLBOSS these days. When it comes to the angel investor/ tech community, standing out of the crowd and being the best professional you can be is a tall order. But Sapna Shah makes it look so easy. Currently, an angel investor, principal of Red Giraffe Advisors and member of the Board of Director of New York Angels, Sapna is a retail expert and 3-time entrepreneur. We had the pleasure of speaking with her and getting her take on what empowerment means and how to be the best person you can be.
To start, can you tell us a bit about your background? And, what drives you on a daily basis?
I’m an angel investor and startup advisor. I focus my investments in retail tech, e-commerce and fashion tech since I’ve been in and around the retail industry for most of my career – at both large public retailers as well as a couple of companies I’ve founded. I’m a huge supporter of female and underrepresented minority founders. I love the startup world and the fact that I get to meet amazing entrepreneurs each and every day.
How do you define what empowerment is?
One of the reasons I love startups is that to me, they are the epitome of career empowerment. Entrepreneurs of all sorts can forge their own path, become the CEOs and decision makers in a way that is very different from the paths available in the traditional business world, particularly for women.
On your own path to empowerment, what would you say is your biggest takeaway?
I think that the most important thing I learned is that everyone’s path is different, that you don’t have to be that square peg, trying to fit into a round hole. I chose the startup ecosystem as my path, but that isn’t right for everyone.
As a woman, what would you define as your proudest moment?
This is a hard question to answer – there are so many moments, both small and large. Like when I see more female entrepreneurs and investors pitching and speaking at events, or when I walk into a meeting and I’m (finally!) not the only woman in the room, or when I see a woman I’ve mentored become successful – all of these things make me proud to be a woman. There are more personal things too – like when my middle-school aged son notices that there are no girls in his robotics club at school, and starts a program for them to make robotics more inclusive. I couldn’t have been prouder!
On a lighter note, what makes you giggle uncontrollably?
This one is easy – my teenage boys. They are constantly cracking jokes about each other, our family and their friends. Of course, many times I’m the target of the jokes, but I let that slide if they’re funny enough.