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Meet Our Founding Team

Led by founders Lindsey Taylor Wood and Erin Shipley, The Helm team is made up of passionate and driven individuals on a mission to make venture investing truly equitable.

Lindsey Taylor Wood, CEO

Lindsey brings ten years of experience as a leader in the gender equality movement to The Helm.

An expert in the empowerment of girls and women, Lindsey is the Founder and President of LTW, an impact studio with an emphasis on contemporary feminism. Clients include actor Matt McGorry, MAKERS, The Conversation with Amanda de Cadenet, The Harnisch Foundation, Women Moving Millions, and filmmakers Jill Bauer, Ronna Gradus and Rashida Jones, among others. In partnership with these clients, LTW designed and implemented a wide range of programs, products, and systems, including but not limited to funding mechanisms and mentorship programs for media makers, content strategies for films and television programming, philanthropic strategies for family foundations, and social impact campaigns. Her ability to use philanthropy and culture symbiotically, and with a gender lens, has made her a sought after strategist in the women’s rights movement.

Prior to consulting, Lindsey was on the founding team of Catapult, a crowdfunding platform for girls and women. Incubated as a project of Women Deliver, Catapult was designed to establish and maintain a sustained, long-term funding infrastructure capable of scaling to many thousands of projects and delivering millions of dollars in funds to benefit girls and women over the next decade. While there, she led the marketing, communications and outreach initiatives.

Lindsey also worked for Women Deliver, a leading global advocate for girls’ and women’s health, rights, and wellbeing — and among the first organizations to promote the investment case for girls and women. Cornerstone projects of her time there included the Women Deliver 50 Campaign which showcased the top 50 ideas and solutions for women and girls internationally, and the training of youth advocates from 11 countries throughout sub-Saharan Africa as part of an invitation-only regional consultation in Kampala, Uganda with government officials and agencies, policymakers, researchers, experts, and advocates focused on achieving the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal 5.

Pre-NGOs, Lindsey worked with the Broadcasting Board of Governors, where she explained U.S. policy to Voice of America’s worldwide audience through editorials broadcast on television, radio and the internet; acted as an off-air reporter and producer for the TODAY show; and as the External Relations Manager for The Lunchbox Fund. She has contributed to a variety of campaigns centered on conflicts in Central Africa, as well as “The Enough Moment,” a book by John Prendergast and Don Cheadle. She has been named one of the 20 Young Champions for Women by The White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood, currently serves on the Feminist.com Board of Directors, and advises the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum.

 

Erin Shipley, Managing Partner

Erin has spent the last decade working with and investing in startups. She has seen firsthand the challenges facing female entrepreneurs raising capital and building companies. At The Helm, she will be investing in world-changing products and people: exceptional teams with a unique vision and the passion and experience to execute.

Before launching The Helm’s fund she was an investor at Karlin Ventures, a seed stage venture capital fund based in Los Angeles. At Karlin, she focused on a broad set of industry verticals – Software as a Service, marketplaces, commerce technologies and frontier technologies like VR/AR – and sourced investment opportunities in Los Angeles, the Bay Area, New York City and Seattle. During her tenure, she evaluated hundreds of companies, participating in both the funding of new portfolio companies as well as supporting the raise of follow on capital for existing portfolio companies.

Before joining Karlin, Erin established her career as an investor working in markets undergoing extreme transition. She started at Deutsche Bank on Wall Street during the summer of 2008, then worked for the company’s Middle East headquarters during the tumultuous years leading up to the Arab Spring. She then joined The Weinstein Company, where she helped structure more than $400 million in credit facilities for the studio. At Weinstein, she led new technologies initiatives as part of the broader investment and strategy team, focusing on startup opportunities with relevance across the film, television, music and digital groups.

Her work with startups began at Wharton, where she designed her own course of study focused on entrepreneurship and the issues around access to capital facing company founders. During her time there as a Joseph Wharton Scholar and a Wharton Research Scholar, she got her first taste of the power of entrepreneurial ecosystems in action while designing and implementing field research projects in Senegal and southern Italy, working with entrepreneurial networks and startup incubators in those countries.

Erin is passionate about the transformative power of innovation, and the overwhelming need to fund female voices and female vision when funding the companies that will shape our future. This means investing in women who are innovating across industries and not limiting the scope of investment in female founders to companies and sectors that are traditionally the purview of women. It also means creating data points that contribute to a shift in market behaviors around funding women-led companies. Her vision for The Helm’s fund is to optimize the experience of investing for both female founders and Helm members, while creating outsized financial returns in the process.

 

Emily Verellen Strom

Emily’s career is deeply rooted in two things: the creation and implementation of systems and the ability to build content and community that drives impact. Her role as COO of The Helm uniquely positions her to do both; ensuring efficiency, growth and efficacy in the company while supporting the infusion of story and community into the membership experience.

Prior to The Helm, Emily was the Senior Director of Programs at The Fledgling Fund, a private foundation built on the vision that film and creative media can educate, engage and mobilize communities around complex social issues. Over the course of her eight years there, Emily evaluated non-fiction films and interactive projects with the most impact potential and supported them through grants, equity and in-kind resources. She also worked alongside these storytellers, building teams, managing budgets, setting goals and creating strategies to help them achieve their goals. Most recently, Emily designed, built and directed the Fledgling Engagement Lab, an incubator for documentary filmmakers seeking collaboration, mentorship and strategy support.

Pre-Fledgling Fund, Emily served as the Deputy Director of the Ubuntu Education Fund. She provided leadership on organizational policy and long-term planning, and contributed expertise, research, writing and analysis of international trends and policies in areas including women’s rights, sexual health, HIV/AIDS, sex education and reproductive health. She also managed a multimillion dollar budget, fundraising and donor management, grant writing and reporting.

Emily also co-founded the Binti Pamoja Center in the Kibera slum of Nairobi. The Center created a safe space for 13-18 year old girls to discuss, learn about and take action on women’s rights and reproductive health issues. Her work envisioning and building the team, systems, communications and management of Binti Pamoja from the ground up helped ensure its long term success. In 2005, Emily published a book, LightBox, featuring stories and photography from the girls in the Center.

With a B.A. in International Development, Communications and Culture from American University and an M.A. in Development Economics and Population Studies from the London School of Economics, Emily’s vision and work has always been focused on building efficient and effective systems to improve lives. Her passion for The Helm comes from that focus, but also her experience with the inherent limits of philanthropy and nonprofit work. She knows that philanthropy must always play a prominent role in improving lives, but that we need a more comprehensive response from the private sector to support bold and brilliant women ready to lead and build businesses. In so many ways, Emily sees The Helm as a natural complement to her previous work and is eager to look back in five and ten years to see the impact.

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