Please share a bit about your training and professional background.
I am a three-time founder who first started working on the venture side informally in 2015 before jumping in full time in 2020 as sole GP at Lucas Venture Group.
For over 30 years, I have been adjacent to the venture world. My late father-in-law Don L. Lucas (Oracle, Cadence) and my late husband, Don A. Lucas (Dexcom, Palantir) were guided by an “old school” venture philosophy. First, your job is to be a king maker not a king. Second, you should only invest in founders you would have at your dinner table. These simple principles guide my decisions today.
In January 2021, I joined Celesta as a partner and lead our strategy for supporting female and minority entrepreneurs.
What does your role as an Investment Partner with Celesta entail?
I lead our strategy for supporting female and minority entrepreneurs, but also support my partners in the due diligence process on a wide variety of companies. Where my partners have off-the-charts technical and financial expertise, I am the “people” person. The product can be stellar and check all the boxes, but if the management team isn’t equally as stellar – it is a pass. Sometimes in a pitch, I am only looking for those clues, knowing my partners are deeply focused on the other aspects of the company.
How is Celesta’s investment approach unique compared to other firms?
We all work on deals together – there is no competition but a collective sense of ownership – and we make investment decisions as a team, with no one voice more important than another. We pride ourselves on being active investors, not just check writers. The GPs lead by example on this, and we are encouraged to leverage the firm’s network to support our companies and bring company’s issues to the table for brainstorming. When we invest in a company, they are like family.
What is one piece of advice you would give to founders?
You only get one shot to pitch – be prepared.
How can more women break into venture capital?
It is about access – so the women, like myself, who are currently in a position to be helpful, need to do so. It is up to us to open those doors, and then up to them to be prepared to walk through.
What attracts you to deep tech?
What I love most about venture is the opportunity to solve the world’s problems (there is no shortage of those) and contribute positively to humanity. Deep tech allows you to truly invest in the technological engine that powers our modern world, and to see what is coming down the pike.
What else drives you?
I have a passion for visual storytelling and focus on producing films with a social justice component. I have a documentary currently in post production (Pay or Die) that is focused on the state of health care in the US, through the lens of the insulin pricing crisis. Insulin is the 5th most expensive liquid in the world, despite the patent being sold for $1 one hundred years ago so it could be available to the world. People who rely on insulin daily to live, like my daughter who has Type 1, are dying in the US because they are rationing the drug, prioritizing food or rent. Producing is a lot like venture capital – you identify a great product – in this case a story – and commit time, treasure and talent to the project, with the goal of bringing it to the world.