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Astrid Scholz of Zebras Unite and XXcelerate Fund provides a menagerie of investment advice

Animal metaphors abound in Episode 7 of our podcast "Off the Sidelines."

Astrid Scholz. (Courtesy photo)

This podcast series is produced in partnership with Project Entrepreneur, a program by UBS.

Zebras. Unicorns. Swans. Frogs.

It appears there is no creature known to man or myth that Astrid Scholz cannot weave into an analogy about investing. The cofounder of Zebras Unite and XXcelerate Fund sat down to chat for the latest episode of “Off the Sidelines” — an investor education podcast produced by us at in partnership with Project Entrepreneur, a program by UBS — and the lively discussion was full of her colorful insights into the current investing landscape.

Scholz began by explaining the concepts of “zebra” and “unicorn” companies: While billion-dollar, disruption-focused unicorns may occupy the fantasies of glory-chasing VCs, the actually valuable in-the-trenches work of repairing, cultivating and connecting is being done by reality-based zebras. With that in mind, she and her partners set out on a mission to create alternative financing models for zebras and, in turn, realign the investment world’s priorities.

The result was XXcelerate, a loan fund for women-led post-revenue businesses with a need for debt capital. Rather than diving into the risk-heavy world of seed- and early-stage investing, Scholz saw a funding gap for relatively more established companies that need, for example, a line of credit to help them level up with a strategic hire or acquisition.

XXcelerate also provides business education and access to a peer support network in addition to pathways to financing. This is a similar multi-faceted approach to that taken by Project Entrepreneur, which aims to accelerate female founders’ growth through increasing access to capital and building ecosystems to advance women entrepreneurs. No single effort is going to change the system overnight, but if enough zebras unite in this cause, the outcome will be dazzling.

Listen to the episode below to hear our conversation with Astrid, including her experiences with systemic discrimination and how she’s pushed back.

Off the Sidelines — Ep 7 — Astrid Scholz of Zebras Unite & XXcelerate Fund


Stay tuned to Off the Sidelines for more conversations with notable figures throughout the investing world. Click below to subscribe and keep up to date with all our episodes.

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