The Download: Robbie Hardy, Chairman, xElle Ventures

Robbie’s business experiences range from corporate strategies for Fortune 500 companies to founding, building, running and successfully exiting various technology businesses, as well as raising and managing an angel network.

She’s passionate about empowering women in their careers. In her book, “Upsetting the Table,” Robbie aims to help connect women with a strong role model to help them succeed, especially as they launch their career.

Women who have overcome obstacles such as sexism, workplace politics, and self-doubt can and should play a role in helping other women succeed, Robbie says in her new book.

Robbie now spends her time providing guidance to all women who want to invest in themselves as well as entrepreneurs looking to grow successful businesses.

1. What is in your pockets?
When you ask me that, I don’t think of things. I think of what I carry around inside me because I can’t carry anything in my pocket. I carry around hope and kindness and joy, trying to find that and keep that in forefront of my mind and use it with other people. That’s the first step.

2. What exciting thing has happened recently for you or your organization?


Two really exciting things happened within a week of each other. First, I launched this monthly program called Empowering Women Together, that is for women who want to invest in themselves. It’s been something I’ve done around the country, one off, and now I have it on a monthly basis. That was on my bucket list. It is going well and I’m excited about it. Also exciting is the launch of xElle Ventures, a women angel network to invest in women. The idea is to level the playing field and one of the main objectives of that is obviously to fund women, but it’s also to increase the number of women angel investors in general. So we have women more experienced and we have women who are not, and we’ve brought them together. So I’m very, very excited about that.

3. What is your favorite coffee spot?
I don’t drink coffee. My favorite place to go is Starbucks because they are central and we can meet people there and I can get iced tea. I also like to meet at the Umstead and have tea and coffee there and be able to have a quiet conversation.

4. What keeps you up at night?
I worry about educating new women angel investors. Now that we’ve got this vehicle called xElle Ventures, how do we help women who have never done this before, feel comfortable joining this world. So, when I look at what I’m doing, it’s like three legs to a stool and the third leg is putting together a really robust, fun, interactive education. It’s building a community of women who are comfortable in their financial skin and are comfortable in understanding what it’s like to be an angel investor. What the risks are, what the fun is, what all the aspects of it. What does it mean? How do you look at a company, what’s due diligence, what’s screening? All those things that they don’t have any exposure to. And women like to understand what they’re doing before they jump in more so than men. I don’t think that’s a sexist thing. I mean, I’m obviously the opposite that I’ll jump into anything. It’s great that women are grounded in that fashion where they want to know and understand what it is they’re doing. And so that’s what keeps me up at night. How do I build that third leg of the stool that I think is really key?

5. What is your favorite restaurant or happy hour?
My favorite restaurant is Hawthorne & Wood in Chapel Hill. It is new and the chef Brandon Sharp is from California and we ate at his restaurant when we lived in Napa. He was the chef of a Michelin one star called Solbar that we love. They serve very California food and he is extremely talented. We’re excited to have him here.

6. What is next for you or your organization?
What’s next is building the women angel. How to be angel. What does it mean to be an Angel? To be a woman angel in this community, and be comfortable in that. And I wanted to build that here and then we want to expand xElle Ventures around the country where there is already interest. And this women’s education piece is really key to it. Because we need women to be comfortable financially. We want to increase the wealth of women in general, those entrepreneurs and as women investors and so we just need to build better worlds so that women angel and the old women angel Investors like me are sitting around with other women versus, you know, being the only woman in the room.

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About Brooks Malone 26 Articles
Brooks Malone is a NC CPA and Partner with Hughes Pittman & Gupton, LLP, and leads the Technology practice group. Brooks is also listed contributor to the National Fast Trac Tech Curriculum that was funded by the Kauffman Foundation. Brooks was named one of the 40 Under 40 in May 2005 by the TBJ, received the Outstanding service to Entrepreneurs Award in 2008 by CED, and named to the Leadership Raleigh Hall of Fame in October 2011. Brooks is a graduate of North Carolina State University and is active at American Underground and HQ Raleigh.