Episode 54 -The path from being an Air Force Flight nurse into High tech and ultimately venture capital and investing in startups with Amanda Lettmann

Amanda Lettmann.png

Terri talks to Amanda Lettmann about her path from being an Air Force flight nurse into high tech and ultimately working with and investing in startups.   Amanda talks about how a life-threatening illness 11 years ago taught her to lead with her heart and how that has allowed her to make better connections and be even more successful.

Who is Amanda Lettmann? 

Amanda Lettmann, a US Air Force Veteran, is an executive and serial entrepreneur with 20 years of global Business Operations and Transformation expertise for startups and Fortune 500 companies in the HiTech, InsurTech and FinTech industries.  She has an extensive M&A background with $4B in acquisition execution in the past 10 years.  As the Founder and CEO of Kardia Ventures, Amanda is an advisor, consultant and Angel Investor for tech startups.  She is also the Co-Founder and COO of SimpleDisability Inc, a data analytics InsurTech startup in Silicon Valley. Amanda holds an MBA in Technology Management, she is a Business Advisor at The Founder Institute and EvoNexus, and Board Advisor at Girls in Tech San Diego and SmartMoney Veterans. 


Show Highlights

  • Amanda was active duty Air Force and separated in 2000.  She realized she didn’t want to be a flight nurse for the rest of her career
  • Amanda was recruited by someone in semi-conductor in 1999 by an esteemed colleague and was a business operations manager and then pursued her master’s degree in technology in 2000 
  • She consulted at the Pentagon which led to consulting with other parts of the government.  Her company was acquired by EMC so she went from a small firm to a massive firm.  
  • At EMC, she proposed a new business plan that was ultimately accepted and moved her to Orange County to lead the West Coast consulting practice.  
  • She then got recruited by Adobe and moved up to San Jose.
  • Terri comments on how Amanda takes advantage of and creates opportunities for herself.
  • 11 years ago, Amanda was an athlete in good health and started getting ill.  After collapsing she found out that a virus had attacked her blood and ultimately led to her organs shutting down.  She was in the hospital for 6-9 months.   
  • She later learned that her heart valves were damaged by the virus and that they were failing which lead to open heart surgery
  • Amanda was a medical anomaly because of the virus and the treatment, and she had many people studying and following her. 
  • Amanda shares who was there to support her during her illness and recovery.  She had to embrace vulnerability.  
  • Amanda remembers her life before the illness.  Her essence didn’t change but she found herself seeking high quality, deep substance people with heart.  Her life before was all about competency.  Her life after became more about heart and not just skill, which ended up changing her life.  
  • She became more recognized because of her personal story which she uses to inspire others.  People now get to know her for more than her skills.  
  • Amanda is working with ESPN BisTalk Radio. She wants to do an inspirational series for women to share their stories.  
  • She is creating a speaker series on ‘Women of Impact’. She finds that women talk about taking action to inspire others, to be proactive, to turn their potential into action. She thinks others are looking for this deep, inspiration.  
  • Terri talks about why she started her podcast, Piloting Your Life, to give a platform for these voices and stories and inspire these same people. 
  • Amanda has a consulting company called Kardia which means heart in Greek. She advises and consults enterprises, entrepreneurs, and does angel investing.  
  • Amanda invests in seed stage, technology startups and looks to co-invest in SaaS companies looking to disrupt the market using artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), ALP, big data, and predictive analytics.  She looks for female founders and veteran founders.  
  • She is now a mentor with a new program called SmartMoney Veterans sponsored by UCSD and SmartMoney Startups. The experience for veterans is different as they need to relearn skills after getting out of the military.  
  • Terri has seen a few startups that are helping veterans bridge the gap between military and civilian work. Companies like Skillmil and Shift are helping with this.  
  • Terri comments on how impressed she is with UCSD and its support of the startup ecosystem.  Amanda said that UCSD also supports veterans.  There is a significant number of veterans in the San Diego area. 
  • Amanda is an advisor for EvoNexus (an incubator/accelerator) and the Founder Institute in San Diego.  
  • Transformation is an important concept for Amanda.  She has been through several transformations and which led to coaching others on transforming.  She loves seeing both enterprise transformation (through M&A) and individuals transform.  
  • If Amanda could wave a magic wand, she would create a future where entrepreneurs and businesses come in all varieties and embrace their responsibility to co-create for equality and social good.  
  • Terri asks how we can help with this wish.  Amanda said that companies should be filling out the diversity of their teams.  As investors, we should invest in companies who are working towards more diverse teams and products.  


Terri’s Key Takeaway

If the opportunities aren’t there, create them.  If the opportunities present themselves, take them.  


References in the Podcast

  • Kardia Ventures: http://kardiaventures.com/
  • Skillmil: https://www.skillmil.com/
  • Shift: https://www.shift.org/
  • SmartMoney Startups: https://www.smartmoneystartups.com/
  • SmartMoney Veterans:  https://www.smartmoneyveterans.com/
  • EvoNexus: https://evonexus.org/
  • Founder Institute:  https://fi.co/




Amanda can be reached via LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/amandalettmann/ or through her website http://kardiaventures.com/

You can follow Terri on Twitter at @terrihansonmead or go to her website at www.terrihansonmead.com or on Medium:  https://medium.com/@terrihansonmead. 

Feel free to email Terri at PilotingYourLife@gmail.com.

To continue the conversation, go to Twitter at @PilotingLife and use hashtag #PilotingYourLife.