Social Impact

Episode 77-Bringing groups of women together to introduce them to angel investing and funding female-led startups with lynn-ann gries

Lynn-Anne Gries (1).jpg

Bringing groups of women together to introduce them to angel investing and funding female-led startups with Lynn-Ann Gries

Who is Lynn-Ann Gries?  


Lynn-Ann Gries has spent her career in the financial arena. From investment banking to venture capital she has experience working with a wide range of companies, from start-ups to those in the Fortune 1000. 


She began her career in the mid-80s working for two investment banking firms in New York, Smith Barney and Morgan Stanley. When marriage brought her to the Midwest she began working for the regional firm McDonald and Company, now part of KeyBank. At McDonald she was primarily responsible for helping companies access capital through the public equity markets, but also assisted 

companies in the processes of raising growth capital or transitioning ownership through sales or mergers. 

In 2001 she began working in venture capital, managing a small venture development fund with a mission to invest in tech-based start-ups. Over the course of 12 years she and her team invested $30M in 80 companies, all located in Northeast Ohio, including CoverMyMeds (sold to McKesson for $1.1 billion), CardioInsight (sold to Medtronic for $90 million), Wireless Environment (recently sold to Ring for an undisclosed amount) and OnShift, one of the Northeast Ohio region’s premier software companies.  

As of July 2018, she is the newly hired Managing Partner of the First Check Fund, the newest in a family of 15+ funds managed by Alumni Ventures Group. She also runs her own consulting firm providing a variety of business services including management of a women’s angel network, financial analysis, market research, and advisory services to entrepreneurs seeking capital. She currently serves on the boards of the Smith College Club of Cleveland, Summer on the Cuyahoga and In Counsel with Women.  

Lynn-Ann received her MBA from New York University (Stern School of Business) and holds a Bachelor of Arts from Smith College where she majored in Economics. She is mom to two grown children and resides in Shaker Heights with her husband, a sixth generation Clevelander, high school lacrosse coach and devoted Cleveland sports fan who has successfully managed to turn a Jersey into a Cleveland Indians superfan.  

Show Highlights 

  • Lynn-Ann shared her background starting in New Jersey and ultimately in Cleveland, OH including her time investment banking and early stage investing in the Midwest.  Lynn-Ann goes into detail on economic redevelopment in Ohio and her work with Jumpstart and the Ohio Third Frontier Program.      

  • Lynn-Ann talks about how she used to think that women didn’t need any preferential treatment to get funding until she saw the data.  This prompted her to share a female founder deal with her successful female friends that led to syndicating her first deal.   Her goal was to get the women she knew in her community with big jobs, at big corporations, where there is no intersection with an entrepreneur, to bring them together with the female led startups looking for capital.   

  • Terri and Lynn-Ann talk about the importance of getting more women to invest and the difference in risk tolerance between men and women and how this affects investing by women.  

  • Terri and Lynn-Ann discuss doing the work for free to support the female founder and female investor ecosystem and investigating options to monetize the time spent building it.   

  • Lynn-Ann talks about the women starting very small funds to build track record to be able to raise bigger funds at a later date.   

  • If Lynn-Ann could wave a magic wand, she would make universal healthcare coverage a reality.    

Terri’s Key Takeaway 

We need to continue to build the connections between investors interested in female-led startups to make it easier for them to get access to capital.   

References in the Podcast 




Lynn-Ann can be reached through LinkedIn at 

You can follow Terri on Twitter at @terrihansonmead or go to her website at or on Medium:  

Feel free to email Terri at 

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

Episode 76-Using IoT innovation to make infrastructure smarter and safe and have a positive impact on the environment with Cécile Villette

Cecile Villette.jpg

Terri talks to Cécile Villette about why she started Altaroad to use IoT to gather information on road usage to positively impact the environment and ‘make infrastructure smarter and safer’.

Who is Cécile Villette?  


Cécile Villette is the CEO of Altaroad. A telecommunication engineer by degree, she spent 10 years as a Digital Strategy consultant deploying connected devices and new services globally for large Telco and Energy companies, before joining up forces with Bérengère Lebental in 2015 during her MBA in HEC to launch the connected road project that would become Altaroad.  


Show Highlights 

  • Cécile talks briefly about her background, the evolution of IoT, why telecom and IoT were/are interesting to her, and why she chose industrial IoT for her startup AltaRoad to reduce carbon dioxide emissions 

  • Cécile shares how she found her co-founders and the characteristics and aspirations she was looking for 

  • Terri talks about the false narrative around women not being able to have children and be founders in a startup 

  • Cécile goes into greater detail on what Altaroad does, how their technology works and where they are as a company 

  • Terri asks Cécile what she has been most surprised about as a founder of a startup and how her co-founding team splits and shares responsibilities of the company 

  • They discuss the impact of autonomous vehicles on how cities and roads are designed and how Altaroad will be a part of it 

  • Cécile shares her experience in fundraising thus far in raising from extended friends and family 

  • Cécile’s favorite founder resource is her network. She emphasized the importance of asking for help when you need it.  

  • If Cécile could wave a magic wand, she would fix global warming.  This keeps her up at night.   


Terri’s Key Takeaway 

If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no.   


References in the Podcast 

  • 4YFN: 

  • Deep Tech (per TechWorks): We define Deep Tech as technology that is based on tangible engineering innovation or scientific advances and discoveries. Deep Tech is often set apart by its profound enabling power, the differentiation it can create, and its potential to catalyze change. 




Cécile can be reached through LinkedInécile-villette/ 

You can follow Terri on Twitter at @terrihansonmead or go to her website at or on Medium:  

Feel free to email Terri at 

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