Breaking Through Biases: An Interview with Soraya Darabi

Soraya Darabi is co-founder and general partner of TMV, formerly Trail Mix Ventures, a New York City-based, founder-first early stage venture capital firm launched in 2016. Soraya leads a team that believes good people can create extraordinary outcomes. 

 

As recently as January, Soraya and her co-founder, Marina Hadjipateras, launched a $64 million fund—their second institutional venture fund—to back startups focused on people, purpose and profit. Investor demand reflected the firm’s success: it was oversubscribed by roughly $5 million and is backed by some of the world’s largest family businesses. 

 

TMV’s success comes from finding businesses overlooked by others, many times simply because of biases. Ahead of the Future Proof Festival, Soraya shared the blindspots she sees in wealth management, including the circumstances that led her to fire her own financial advisor, what she looks for when investing and how she uses her love of food and travel to connect with others.

 

Future Proof: You’ve had your progress in finance seemingly blocked by biases favoring men over women, yet you’ve found ways to capitalize on these obstacles. For example, you started an investing organization called Transact Global that’s now the envy of your peers. Tell me more about Transact Global and what it’s taught you about networking. 

 

Soraya Darabi: We started Transact Global in 2018, two years after launching TMV’s first fund. It’s a worldwide group of almost 400 fund managers who happen to identify as, or be, a woman. 

 

There aren’t enough women fund managers out there and this was a group born of necessity. My business partner and I had started investing in funds founded by women, not thinking about pioneering anything. It just felt like the right thing to do because the female fund managers I know are so careful with capital and access such interesting deals; ones our male peers don’t see. 

 

I was an LP [limited partner] in a couple of funds started by women and they were asking me questions as if I was the foremost expert—just because my fund was two years older than theirs. 

 

We knew that we had done a good job of angel investing, but we didn’t feel as if we had the right wealth knowledge to share with them. Raising money for my first fund had felt pretty darn hard for me, too.

 

We decided to meet weekly, over a video call, and to operate with an abundance mentality. We had to share information that had been kept from us, and to introduce one another to LPs, with warm, positive notes. 

 

We’re peer-led, which is exciting and novel. We decided to operate with a wolf pack mentality: if we can do this together, we’ll grow further and faster. That is exactly what happened. 

 

Today, we’re in 18 countries. What sets us apart is that we refuse to charge our women fund managers a penny. TMV pays for the organization. 

 

TMV pays for it because we think that this information should not come at a cost to the—quite honestly—to the disadvantaged. Rather it should be accessible and universal, so that we can play on the same playing field as everyone else. 

 

FP: Transact Global’s origin story is a great example of how TMV finds opportunities to capitalize on obstacles created by others. What similar opportunities for capitalizing on obstacles exist in the wealth management industry?

 

Soraya: If you look at the data, startups and large organizations with diverse boards perform better. They generate more capital. If you’re really seeking alpha, then it’s smart investing to invest for the triple bottom line: people, purpose and profit. 

 

TMV has seen 700% growth in assets under management since 2017. We’ve been a Series A investor in companies like [mattress firm] Casper and [healthcare provider] Cityblock Health. We invested in [podcast studio] Gimlet before it was acquired by Spotify.

 

Search out mission-driven founders. They’re the best founders. Mission-driven founders tend to stay at companies longer—beyond the IPO. It’s the mission holding them accountable. 

 

FP: What’s been your own experience with the wealth management industry and financial advice? 

 

Soraya: When we closed the sale on the first startup I co-founded, wealth managers read about it in the news. I started receiving an email a week from wealth managers, whereas I was of little interest to them before. 

 

A friend introduced me to a wealth manager at a bigger bank. The wealth manager asked what was important to me, and I told him I wanted to invest in something along the lines of the S&P 500, but without oil and gas stocks. I let him do his thing, so I could focus on angel investing–the asset class I knew best.

 

As my angel portfolio was blossoming and growing, the capital I had turned over to the outside wealth manager was underperforming the S&P 500. 

 

By the time five years had passed and I turned 32, I said, “Enough is enough. You’re in finance. It’s time to take matters into your own hands.” 

 

I decided I would manage my capital myself, so I don’t have a wealth manager. 

 

A lot of times women are raised to hand their capital over to men to manage. That wasn’t working for me. 

 

FP: Why was there such a disconnect between your values and your experience with a wealth manager?

 

Soraya: It’s a generational problem. I was very young when I came into money for the first time. I assumed that the person with the most years under—in this case—his belt would be the right person to steer me in the right direction. 

 

I was raised in a middle-class household where we didn’t talk about money. We threw away the business section of the newspaper every day. It wasn’t of interest. 

 

It’s also a discovery problem. Finding a wealth manager, if you wish to go down that path, is one part values fit and one part cultural fit. Are you going to get along? It’s also a literacy fit. Can they assess how much you know, how much you want to learn, and be along on that journey with you? 

 

It’s common to hear, “I don’t want to invest the way my parents did. I don’t want to invest my capital the way my grandparents earned theirs.”

 

For the next generation of capitalists, it’s important to hone into their values on day one. Modern wealth managers, attuned to those changes, may find a new generation of clients very willing to take a leap with them.

 

FP: The Future Proof Festival is designed to celebrate the convergence of values and the emergence of new ideas. You’ve been to a lot of conferences over the years. What stands out to you about this event?

 

Soraya: First and foremost, it just looks like a whole lot of fun. Getting to know humans on a human level is so refreshing. 

 

I want to know what motivated people to get into the line of work that they’re in, or have a conversation with someone where what they do doesn’t even come up at all.

 

FP: If someone runs into you at Future Proof and wants to talk about something other than venture capital, what’s a good conversation starter?

 

Soraya: Ask me what the best movie was that I saw recently. Or the most interesting book I’ve read lately—although with a toddler I’m not reading as much as I’d like to. 

 

We can talk about food and travel. My grandmother was a chef and I’m always trying to become a better chef. I’ve been to over 65 countries and I hope to reach 100 in the next decade. 

 

I’ve been lucky enough to take cooking classes in Oaxaca, Mexico, so I like to make mole. I took a cooking class in Thailand, so I really like to make pad see ew. I took a cooking class in China and learned how to make drunken fish—which is one of my favorite dishes of all time. 

 

This conference is going to bring together world class individuals in one place. There’s music and entertainment, and we’re not just talking about money all day. It’s going to be a treat.

John Swolfs Advisor Circle

JOHN SWOLFS

John Swolfs is the Chief Content Officer at Advisor Circle, a product studio for growth-oriented financial professionals. John is responsible for creating dynamic programs for Advisor Circle’s world-class events which include Future Proof festival and Exchange, the world’s leading ETF event.

Register

01.

Future Proof is set to bring together the world’s most prominent figures and emerging minds to explore the intersection of money, tech, culture and impact.

BECOME FUTURE PROOF

Future Proof brings together an entirely new community of financial advisors, institutional investors, asset managers, fintech startups, investors, financial creators, activists, artists, musicians and other key stakeholders around an unprecedented experience and agenda.

cropped-Future-Proof-Logo-White.png

Content

cropped-Future-Proof-Logo-White.png

Community

cropped-Future-Proof-Logo-White.png

Attendee Experience

Investopedia Top 100 Financial Advisor Reception

Monday, September 12, 2022 5:00-7:00pm PT
HYATT REGENCY CALIFORNIA COURTYARD

Future Proof brings together the best and brightest advisors from across the country. This exclusive event allows the Investopedia Top 100 advisors to reconnect, share insights and celebrate their achievement of being named to this prestigious list.

investopedia_logo_reversed

Scoop Ice Cream Parlor & Lounge

Ice cream food truck

Get the latest scoop on pivotal industry topics and current events affecting the wealth space. By leveraging our robust event technology, you’ll have the opportunity to create both peer-led and industry-led roundtable-style discussions. Learn more about the most pressing topics impacting the future of wealth. These hard conversations are made easier as you and your cohorts grab some ice cream and settle in for an informal yet highly engaging conversation.

Future Proof Creator Corner

Woman recording a video for social media

rhe Creator Corner is built to support creators, creatives and brands. It’s equipped with a podcast recording studio and first-of-its-kind Collab Lab. The podcast area will afford attendees the ability to record podcast sessions and will feature podcast consultants helping to answer questions of both existing podcast hosts and aspiring creators. The Collab Lab is where asset managers and fintech companies collaborate with leading and emerging finance influencers. Looking for engaging content built for the modern financial professional or investor? We offer high quality video and audio production for all your creative needs.

Future Proof Live

Production stage setup

Future Proof Live is our full-production broadcast studio strategically placed at the heart of the Boardwalk. Our very own Future Proof anchors will provide all-day commentary featuring casual speakers and celebrity interviews as well as unexpected guest appearances. Future Proof Live extends our one-of-a-kind experience to a larger audience virtually.

PCH Stage

Event attendees listening to a panel discussion

The Pacific Highway stage is the most versatile stage at Future Proof. With countless setup options, the PCH Stage is your go-to spot for industry insight and innovation, all while staying current with the latest trends in money, culture, tech and impact.

Ocean Stage

Concert happening on Huntington Beach

As the beating heart of the boardwalk, the Ocean stage will feature seating for over 500 and have the look and feel of a concert venue on the beach. The ocean stage will host a range of exciting content from industry-changing keynotes to the closing concert featuring today’s biggest musical acts.

Social Audio Experiment

Small crowd listening to performer sing

Podcasts are all the rage, as they excite and entertain audiences from afar. Future Proof changes the game, as we invite your favorite podcasters to host their shows live from the festival. Forget passive listening. Future Proof’s Live Podcast sessions allow you to interact directly with your favorite podcast creators as they record live episodes just feet from the Pacific Ocean.

Brewing Lounge

Coffee bar on Huntington Beach

You can’t expand your perspective and think differently if you aren’t exposed to a broad perspective. That’s why our speaker faculty isn’t limited to traditional finance. The Brewing Lounge will bring out-of-industry experts to present their visions for a new world of wealth. To help fuel the conversations, we’ve created a true coffeehouse feel complete with baristas just waiting to pour you the perfect cup of joe.

Poppin’ Pitch Lounge

Popcorn lounge set up for photo ops

Nobody likes to be pitched, but the truth is we all need a little help keeping up to speed on our dynamic industry. The What’s Poppin’ Pitch Lounge sets the tone, giving you intimate access to short and punchy demos from the most innovative fintech companies in the world. Grab a bag of popcorn, sit back, relax and absorb the next wave of innovation impacting the world around you.

Wheel of Impact

Event attendee enjoying the prize wheel

Future Proof’s Wheel of Impact promotes the power of giving in a fun, dynamic and social way. With a donation of any size, attendees can have the ability to spin the wheel, determining where the donation will go and how it will be used. Land on the “mystery” selection and have a chance to win items, trips and other experiences.

RIA Executive Leaders Reception

Monday, September 12, 2022 6:00-8:00pm PT
Pasea Hotel & Spa

Join 30+ executives from the country’s top-ranked RIA firms for a VIP evening reception.


If you are an executive leader (or owner) of a fast-growing RIA firm and are interested in participating get in touch with us today. Space is extremely limited.

Bitwise Logo_Word Mark_White

"Future Proof Closing Night Concert" to become "Future Proof Music Festival"

Tuesday, September 13, 2022 4:30-10:00pm PT
The Future Proof Boardwalk (Outdoor Event Space)

The Future Proof Festival experience roles on as we host our annual music festival. This year’s lineup features an array of artists and musicians covering everything from rock classics to hip hop. Come early and stay late sampling the numerous food trucks and bars. Don’t miss headliners rap legend Big Boi and indie pop sensation Fitz and the Tantrums showcase their talents.* * admission is included with your Future Proof Pass.

"Future Proof Beach Bash" to become "Future Proof Festival Kickoff Party"

Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort

Relax and unwind as you connect with the Future Proof community, as you enjoy and evening of tasty bites, and delicious cocktails as celebrity DJ, DJ Mick sets the vibe as the sunsets on the beautiful Pacific Ocean.

Health Is Wealth Center

Yoga mats laid out for workout

Physical and mental health is the cornerstone of any successful long-term wealth plan. But for years, our industry has prioritized work over health, leading to unhealthy lifestyles and employee burnout. The Health Is Wealth Center provides a warm and relaxed setting, allowing attendees to come in and recharge, grab a drink from the juice bar and eat healthy snacks. The space will also be home to daily group yoga and fitness classes as well as meditation sessions.

The Grand Unveil

The Future Proof Boardwalk (Outdoor Event Space)

Future Proof does nothing small. Join us on Monday morning for the grand unveiling of our half-mile beachfront boardwalk complete with activations, meeting areas, multiple stages, and everything else you need to make your Future Proof experience truly one of a kind.

ONYX Advisor Network Meet Up

-

Health is Wealth: Surf Lessons

-

We are in Surf City U.S.A – of course we are going to have surf lessions. Whether you are catching barrels are just learning to stand come out be part of the community and tick learning to surf off your bucket list.

Quad A Social

-

Media-Only Networking Reception

Sunday, September 11, 20226:00-8:00pm PT
Monday, September 12, 20226:00-8:00pm PT

Join 25+ key financial media, industry reporters, and other press for a media-only evening reception.


If you are a member of the press and are interested in participating get in touch with us today. Space is extremely limited.

As a member of the press, you will have the opportunity to RSVP for both receptions on Sunday and Monday.

Advisor Networking Dinners

Sunday, September 11, 2022 6:00-8:00pm PT Monday, September 12, 2022 6:00-8:00pm PT

Maximize your time at Future Proof by participating in a 10-person advisor networking dinner organized by us and industry partners. Held at popular downtown Huntington Beach restaurants, our organized Advisor Networking Dinners will provide you with a one-of-a-kind culinary experience while making new friends and catching up with old ones. Space is extremely limited. Must RSVP.

Health is Wealth: HIIT

-

Just because you are away from home it does not mean you need to miss your workout. Start each day with a HIIT beach workout hosted by the Future Proof communities Jess Bost. * space is limited, preregisteration required

Health is Wealth: Yoga

-

Future Proof puts a value on your health and ability to decompress from the grind of festival life. Begin your day with a focus on centering body and mind for a day of meetings, networking, and more.

Health is Wealth: Meditation

-

Your mental health is as important as your physical health. Set the tone for each day as you take the time to relax your mind, center your thoughts and prepare yourself for the day ahead.

Storyteller Series: This Is Not Financial Advice

Sunday, September 11, 2022 6:00-6:30pm PT
The Future Proof Boardwalk (Outdoor Event Space)

Investing has become mainstream and nowhere is this better encompassed than in the new documentary film This is Not Financial Advice. Join us as we invite the cast and crew for an open conversation on the mindset of today’s investors, and take a closer look at investing as a cultural phenomenon and show clips from the movie.

All Access: Fitz & The Tantrums

The Future Proof Boardwalk (Outdoor Event Space)

Join your fellow peers for an all access experience with indie pop sentation Fitz and the Tantrums. This excluisve event is a can’t miss experience for any music fan.

FintechX Demo Drop

The Future Proof Boardwalk (Outdoor Event Space)

Social Audio Experiment:
EYL Presents Market Mondays

The Future Proof Boardwalk (Outdoor Event Space)

Cultural icons and financial influencers Earn Your Lesuire host their wildly popular Market Mondays Show live from the Future Proof stage. This can’t miss sessions ties together market events and education to help investors be better invested.

Social Audio Experiment: Bloomberg's Masters in Business Live

The Future Proof Boardwalk (Outdoor Event Space)

Hear podcast legend and host of Masters In Business Barry Ritholtz for a can’t miss live recording of the most influential podcast covering the world of business.

Social Audio Experiment:
Invest Like the Best Live

The Future Proof Boardwalk (Outdoor Event Space)

Recgonized as one of if not the most influential podcasts Invest Like the Best records live from Future Proof. Join host Patrick O’Shanunessy and his guest for indepth look at the markets, investing and the world of business.

Social Audio Experiment: Bloomberg Sports Live

The Future Proof Boardwalk (Outdoor Event Space)

The world of sports is more than just the games. In this unique session, Bloomberg Chief Corresponded Jason Kelly hosts financial advisorJoe Mclean and his superstar sports clients for an in-depth look at the changing world of sports and why more athletes are embracing investing and building wealth beyond the court.

All Access: Big Boi

The Future Proof Boardwalk (Outdoor Event Space)

Future Proof is all about experiences. Rub shoulders with Big Boi in this invite-only meet & greet in the Future Proof green room.