Deborah Jackson: Women Can Change The World With Money

With Women Who Count, our goal is to inspire women leaders who wish to leverage their experience and influence with money and turn their passions into results that make a difference. To shed a spotlight on this conversation, we are featuring a series of interviews with Women Who Count, selecting inspiring role models to share how they created transformative outcomes through their wisdom, knowledge and influence with money.

About Deborah Jackson: Founder and CEO of Plum Alley

Moved by her strong desire to see women achieve success through the founding of companies, Deborah Jackson is the Founder and CEO of Plum Alley and a Founder of the Women Innovate Mobile Accelerator. Plum Alley is the place where women entrepreneurs and innovators succeed with crowdfunding, commerce, and experts.

For the past 10 years, Deborah has been active in early stage companies both as an investor and founder. Her investment portfolio includes cloud technology, consumer internet, mobile technology companies, and drug discovery. Since 2009, Deborah has been a member of Golden Seeds, the third most active angel network in the nation. 

Deborah began her career at Goldman Sachs as an investment banker, working on Wall Street for over 21 years. She founded Women Innovate Mobile in 2011, the first startup accelerator and mentorship-driven program designed for women-founded companies in mobile technology.

How is Plum Alley different from other ecommerce sites?

Plum Alley is an ecommerce site equally focused on great products, as well as the woman entrepreneurs behind them: we profile the founder, and paint a story about what’s inspirational or innovative about her company. We feel strongly that when you know the story about the woman and her company, you appreciate the product much more.

There’s a lot of negative buzz around women and investing. All day, we hear messages like “women aren’t in tech,” and “women aren’t investing,” and “women don’t get funded.” That conversation gets boring quickly. We wanted to create a company that brought a positive voice to the table.

What are some of the recent trends you’ve observed around women and investing?

I’ve seen a surge in the conversation around women investing in early-stage companies, which is a relatively new trend. There are some great organizations like Pipeline Fellowship and 37 Angels that are facilitating this by training women in how to invest in early-stage companies. Education is critical because if you don’t have the skills or the background to invest, it can be intimidating.

Historically, we’ve seen women who are very active in philanthropy, giving to causes, organizations, and charities that they care about. However, I’m seeing a new way of thinking, where women understand that they can do good in the world by giving to for-profit companies as well as non-profit companies.

What are some common misconceptions about women and investing?

We hear all the time that women don’t take risks, but the fact is that women are absolutely risk takers.  Specifically, I mean that they take very smart, calculated, and sensible risks given the possibility of return.

Having worked on Wall Street and having watched the financial disaster of 2008, I saw that the men in charge took bad risks given the potential return. This misconception about women comes from the fact that many men take ridiculous, outsized risks that make women look risk-averse by comparison.

What do you see as the future for women in investing?

In the future, women will be bigger players as they become more comfortable with investing. I would love to see more women think consciously on how to use their pocketbook to align the world with their personal values. An individual volunteering time or energy can only do so much, but when you actually take your financial resources and direct them in a targeted way, you can have a huge impact.

I think there will be a collective ah-ha moment as more women realize that investing is really the pathway to changing the future. Women already control the lion’s share of spending in the world by buying products for themselves and families.  The next step is to invest more consciously. This doesn’t mean you have to be an angel investor, or only buy stocks – it means that every day when you spend money, you can be furthering a mission or a value that you care about. When women realize the power that they have through their spending, we will realize that we can collectively change the world.

Executive Education at UC Davis is uniquely positioned to create custom programs around this topic. The UC Davis Graduate School of Management has a long history of supporting gender balance and women in business. We were ranked No. 1 worldwide for the highest percentage of female faculty members by The Financial Times, and every year we publish a Census of Women Business Leaders in California. Contact Wendy Beecham, Managing Director, for more information.