Mama Mentors is powered by Lincoln. Learn more about our partnership here. To us, our partnerships with brands are about so much more than business. We carve out relationships with brands whose values reflect our own and those of our members, and work together to thoughtfully tell stories and create experiences that speak to moms’ real lives and real interests.
Through projects like this one, HeyMama endeavors to enhance the professional success of our members by bridging the gap between those who have already arrived and the ones who are still on their way. We hope this journey will keep us all moving forward, just like Lincoln.
Fran Hauser, a long-time media executive-turned angel investor, was sitting outside the Time Life Building in the Spring of 2013, having coffee with a friend, Soraya Darabi. In addition to working with some of the world’s largest digital media businesses, including People and InStyle, Hauser was spending a significant amount of her time meeting startup founders. And on an otherwise run-of-the-mill day, Hauser’s friend, Darabi, said something that would change the trajectory of her career.
“She said to me, ‘Fran, there are so many women who are looking to launch businesses and when they look up, they don’t have any female role models or mentors, and you could be that,’” Hauser told HeyMama. “So I tested the waters by investing in and advising a few digital media startups while I was still at Time Inc. I quickly realized that this side hustle could become my full time thing — I had the network, plenty of deal flow, and I was really enjoying it.”
After 15 years in media, Hauser had learned a slew of lessons and skill sets that helped her establish a lucrative career focused on investing in other women. “I learned about the power of compelling content, the importance of understanding a P&L whether you are on the business side or creative side, and just how critical it is to have a unique value proposition that is easily repeatable by customers,” she said. “These learnings serve me well in my own business and also in advising founders.”
And given that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted working moms — in September alone, over 865,000 women were pushed out of the workforce — she believes continuing to find women to invest in is of the utmost importance.
“I have to say that I’m really encouraged by the number of women who’ve reached out to me over the last few months with amazing ideas that are solving real pain points,” she explained. “Many of them have left full time jobs and are taking this year to work on fleshing out their concepts. I’m also finding that if the business doesn’t fit my investing thesis, I am being very intentional about making introductions that could materialize in investment.”
One way she is investing in other entrepreneurial women is by choosing, in a year of so much uncertainty, to become a HeyMama Mama Mentor. HeyMama’s Mama Mentor program, powered by Lincoln, pairs established business owners and corporate working moms with mentees to help them flesh out their business plans, find alternative and creative ways to secure funding, or simply offer support and encouragement during a financially unstable time.
“Mentoring has always been a big part of my life,” Hauser said. “I know how much working mamas are struggling and I wanted to carve out time to give back in a more formal way. I liked the idea of six sessions over a few months and I had fun working with the mamas to ‘program’ each session. And, of course, I got just as much out of it as the participants!”
Just because Hauser invests in other women, doesn’t mean she doesn’t carve out time to invest in herself. Recently, she launched a “Bookstagram,” an alternative to a career- and life-goal of Hauser’s that COVID-19, for now, has stalled.
“Before the world changed in March, I was working on launching a bookstore in my town. Owning a bookstore has been a lifelong dream for me and I believe it will still happen at some point — just not right now,” she explained. “In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about how to best channel my creative energy and love for books and decided to launch @fransbookshelf. I have had SO much fun working on this and am excited to build a community of book lovers.”
After 15 years in corporate media, the decision to switch gears was undoubtedly overwhelming and, at times, scary. Change always is. But there was another factor that played into Hauser’s decision to turn her side hustle into an ongoing investment opportunity: her children.
“A big factor in my decision was knowing that I would have more capacity to be a mom,” she said. And after being named one of Business Insider’s “30 Women in Venture Capital to Watch in 2018” and publishing The Myth of a Nice Girl, one of Amazon’s Best Business Books of 2018, she hopes that her children will continue to learn from the example she has set.
“[I want my kids to know] that anything is possible. Being a published author is something that, as a child, I never thought was attainable. It was truly a moonshot for me. So…why not dream big?”