I recently sat down with Kelly to have a chat and get to know her a little bit more. I learned so many things about her background and experience — like Why Marketing? What it’s like to have a role in VC, How her mom broke the glass ceiling for over 30 years, and why she can’t watch Disney’s Pixar’s Up ever again. The full, immersive interview was conducted using Giide (a TechNexus portfolio venture). LISTEN HERE.
Maddy: Hello everyone. This is Maddy Rutter. I’m the Director of Collaboration at TechNexus Venture Collaborative and I’m sitting down today with Kelly Wyman. Kelly, welcome.
Kelly: Thanks, Maddy I’m excited to be here.
Maddy: Yeah. I’m super excited to have you. Kelly is one of the newest members of the team and I just want the audience to get a chance to get to know her a little bit. So Kelly, tell me, what is your job title at TechNexus?
Kelly: I am our Marketing Manager as part of our Platform (Collaboration) team and I work closely with you, Maddy.
Maddy: Tell me a little bit about your background and how you landed here at TechNexus.
Kelly: Before joining TechNexus, I was the Director of Brand and Communications at Sandbox Industries which is a venture capital firm that has several investment platforms. As the director, I led our PR/marketing and branding efforts and helped support 60+ portfolio companies in different areas as it relates to marketing.
Maddy: Wonderful. 60+ portfolio companies over at Sandbox, we’ve got over 110+ at TechNexus so you’re really prepared to support early-stage ventures.
Kelly: Yeah, that’s my bread and butter. I’m really into the startup world; I think, the more, the better!
Maddy: As the Marketing Manager, there are lots of different things we think about as it relates to marketing. Between Marketing, PR, Communications, etc. — What fascinates you most about this role within the Venture Capital industry?
Kelly: This goes back to determining what to major in college. I knew I wanted to be in business because I come from a family of businessmen and women and I was actually kind of turned off by some of the other domains, like financing and accounting, because they seemed too boxed in. What really intrigued me about marketing is that it’s really versatile it’s an open arena to innovate and pour in different creativity that makes my day-to-day interesting. I’m never doing the same thing.
And I think marketing is the most human function in a business, especially as it relates to my role at TechNexus or marketing in venture capital, in general, we really get to play that connector role and whether that’s events, social media, email communications, we really are in a position to bring people together.
I think marketing is the most human function in a business.Kelly Wyman
Maddy: I love that. What you just said about marketing is the real human element here. I love that. Kelly, who inspires you?
Kelly: It might be a cliche, but I have to say, my mom, she’s always been a really big role model of mine. She was a powerhouse of a saleswoman as a Regional Sales Vice President for Sprint for over 30 years and my grandma (my mom’s mom) actually raised my mom and four other kids completely on her own without the help of a partner. I think my mom inherited that type of independence early on, so for 30 years, she climbed the corporate ladder and frankly kicked ass in a male-dominated field. And yet still managed to raise four kids of her own. I’ve seen through her the value of working hard and also valuing your family.
I really look up to her she’s pushed my siblings and me to better ourselves, and better other people. She’s truly an example of someone that’s broken the glass ceiling, so I’m very fortunate.
Maddy: I love that! Go Kelly’s mom! Shout out to Gayle, Kelly’s mom! An inspiration to us all.
A couple of more questions here…what are you most excited about digging into, as you get into this role early on at TechNexus?
Kelly: I think one of the most exciting parts for me is really getting to know the companies and entrepreneurs in our portfolio. We invest in a lot of interesting and innovative areas and I’m excited to get smart in those areas by way of our investments. We have over 100+ companies in our portfolio and I’m eager to get to know all of those.
Maddy: What’s a skill you’d like to improve on?
Kelly: Well, I would like to say public speaking, if you couldn’t already tell…
It is something I’ve struggled with since I was a little kid. While I was excellent at reading, sitting down, and doing popcorn reading exercises, the second I had to stand up in front of the class it was like a shock to my confidence, but I know in marketing that’s a skill that is worth having, so I’m constantly trying to improve upon that.
Maddy: What do you hope to accomplish at TechNexus over the next year? So thinking about this first year in the role, what do you want to accomplish?
Kelly: Yeah, we’re doing some really incredible things at TechNexus and have been for over 10 years now and I would say that our marketing efforts haven’t necessarily caught up with that reality. So, a big goal of mine is to scale the brand. I think that TechNexus is one of the best-kept secrets in innovation (and in Chicago). I would like for more people to recognize TechNexus as a leading investor in the country because we are.
I think that TechNexus is one of the best-kept secrets in innovationKelly Wyman
Maddy: We’re going to wrap it up with a little bit of a fun fact. I found this question a couple of weeks ago and I couldn’t resist because I just thought it was such a great one. If you could see one movie again for the first time, what would it be and why?
Kelly: Hmm, so I struggle with this one. It may not be a fan favorite, but I think I would say Disney’s Pixar’s UP.
And the reason I say that is because I thought it was a fantastic movie, one of my favorite Pixar movies, I’m a big Pixar person, but I don’t think I could ever watch it again because it just tore my heart apart.
So if I could go back in time unknown I would watch it again.
Maddy: Kelly, thank you so much for having this chat with me. We are so beyond thrilled! I’m thrilled, the team is thrilled to have you on board and we’re really excited to see what we can accomplish this year next year, and beyond. Welcome to the team! We’re so proud to have you here. Let’s go!
Kelly: Thanks, Maddy. I’m really excited to be here and it’s an honor to join.