Zoë Barry is a serial entrepreneur, mentor in residence with Techstars, an angel investor, and founder of Zingeroo, a FinTech start-up

Five questions with Zingeroo

25 November 2020

4 minute read

Zoë Barry is a serial entrepreneur, mentor in residence with Techstars and angel investor.

Zoë Barry is a serial entrepreneur, mentor in residence with Techstars and angel investor.

Currently, Zoë is the founder and CEO of Zingeroo, her second venture-backed tech startup. The company is currently operating in stealth mode and has raised $3 million to date. Zingeroo was founded in 2019. The company has roughly 10 full time employees and is 50% women.

Zoë began her career on Wall Street working for the hedge fund Dawson Capital. She was inspired to found her first company, ZappRx, in 2012 when a family member was diagnosed with a severe condition that required specialised therapy. ZappRx was best described as the “Amazon Prime for $100K/year specialty medication.” As a sole-founder, Zoë raised over $42 million for ZappRx before the company was acquired by Allscripts in June 2019.

When she isn’t busy building her company, Zoë enjoys mentoring first time founders. She co-founded an angel investment group, xxAngels, which primarily leads rounds for formation-stage tech companies with female founders at the helm. Zoë has invested in over 20 startups to date.

Zoë was named as one of Inc. Magazine’s 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30 in 2015, Boston Business Journal’s 40 under 40 in 2015 and Medtech Boston's 40 under 40 Healthcare Innovators in 2016. In her spare time, Zoë is an amateur race car driver and avid skier.

01. What was the inspiration behind your company?

I was having a heated debate with my brothers about the direction of the stock market. I had actually worked for a hedge fund (Dawson Capital) whereas my brothers were taking economics classes in college. To settle the debate I tried gifting the concept of a competitive, social trading experience to my brothers that Christmas, only to find that it didn’t exist. We weren’t interested in a year-long analysis of best portfolio management (that is a ‘set it and forget it’ approach). Rather, we wanted to compete and track performance on individual trades. I thought the idea was so obvious, it was like inventing the Post-It. How could there not be a way to do real-money trading, banter with each other, and track a leaderboard of individual trades? Voila, Zingeroo was born.

02. What do you find is the most difficult aspect of being a female founder?

Being stuck with “little girl” valuations and being prohibited from negotiating hard are the two most frustrating aspects of being a female founder. We all know women get just 3% of the VC funding each year and 97% goes to men. What is less well-covered is that, when women do manage to get VC funding, their companies face significantly heavier dilution, they have more pernicious terms that play into corporate governance and they must give up control for far less capital. It gets worse — studies have shown there is real danger and significant blowback for women who negotiate. I don't just want my company to be funded, I want the same valuation and standard terms all the guys are getting for their startups.

03. How has the pandemic impacted your company?

The pandemic has changed life as we know it—no more travelling for work meetings, shaking hands or separating work from home. This has been especially challenging for women and parents in the workforce with young children, and some companies have not been sensitive to that. At Zingeroo—where I’ve made it a point to run a 50% female team—we work hard to foster an inclusive and empathetic workspace. We’ve made important hires, growing from a two person to a ten person team, and use online tools to make every member feel welcome in meetings. Since we’re a smaller, tight-knit group, working in distributed, digital environments this has actually resulted in greater efficiency, greater trust and more explosive growth.

04. Tell us about a role model or mentor who has helped you along your journey.

Nancy Lieberman is a role model, mentor and former board member from my first company, ZappRx. Nancy is now an angel investor and advisor for my second startup. Nancy is a fighter— she was the youngest person (male OR female) to ever make partner in Skadden Arps’ history. Midway through her career, Nancy was injured in a skiing accident and came out of surgery a quadriplegic with limited lung capacity. Nancy did not retire. Nancy did not give up. Nancy returned to Skadden just a year after her accident. I’ve faced many challenges in my journey as an entrepreneur, but everything I have seen pales in comparison to Nancy. Nancy has been by my side for some of the darkest moments in startup land, but also the brightest. She has taught me to never throw in the towel, to never underestimate myself and to always turn my Achilles heel into my greatest asset.

05. What is the one piece of advice you'd give to other women thinking about starting a company?

I feel like it has become a faux-pas to discuss gender norms in 2020, but that doesn’t actually benefit women because statistically they aren’t being funded equally. My advice to women is, just go do it. Don’t make a list. Women are always making lists and saying they aren’t ready yet or “as soon as I accomplish everything on this list then I’ll be ready to start.” Guys will have an idea on a cocktail napkin, walk into a VC meeting and demand $1 million at a $10 million pre. While the ladies were busy delaying their startups and working on to-do lists, the guys were getting funded and executing their idea. Like I said before, don’t make a list. Just go do it.

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