Wonder Women in STEAM: Kerry Rupp & Sara Brand


Presented by Michael Best, Thinkery’s Wonder Women in STEAM series highlights local female movers, shakers and innovators in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics.

Get to know this week’s Wonder Women in STEAM, Kelly Rupp and Sara Brand!

Kerry Rupp is a General Partner at True Wealth Ventures, a new early-stage venture capital fund investing in women-led businesses in the sustainable consumer and consumer health sectors. In addition, Kerry provides innovation & strategy consulting through her DisRuppt practice, leveraging over 20 years’ experience launching and growing startups and new lines of business. Her core service areas are Corporate Innovation, Strategy & Business Development, Venture & Corporate Development and Economic Development.

Kerry is also a nationally-certified instructor for the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program, helping university-based teams to commercialize their science and technology research. She is an active startup coach who is asked to judge at startup competitions nationwide and is a frequent speaker on entrepreneurship, innovation and early-stage investing. She serves as a mentor at Capital Factory, Galvanize and International Accelerator and is on the Advisory Panel of the Texas Health Catalyst program at Dell Medical School.

Previously, Kerry was CEO at DreamIt, a Top Ten US startup accelerator and early-stage venture fund, where she was directly involved with the launch of over 150 companies. During her 5-year tenure with DreamIt, she grew its programs to five cities, raised a $20 million follow-on fund, and initiated the DreamIt Access (minority entrepreneur), DreamIt Athena (female entrepreneur), and DreamIt Health programs. These specialty programs were conducted in partnership with Comcast Ventures, Penn Medicine, Independence Blue Cross, Johns Hopkins University, Northrup Grumman, Kaiser Permanente, the state of Pennsylvania and the SBA.

As a General Partner at DreamIt, Kerry reviewed thousands of startup applications, led the DreamIt Fund II LP fund design, raised funds, performed due diligence and made investment decisions. Today, DreamIt companies have an aggregate enterprise value of more than $1 billion.

Before DreamIt, Kerry was herself the founder of an online travel service, Holiday Golightly, which organized unique group travel excursions for women. She has also advised senior executives at Allrecipes.com, ReadersDigest, LexisNexis, Payscale, and Taleo on stategy, business development and marketing. She has held Vice President level positions at AllRecipes.com, Jobster, Classmates.com and LexisNexis. Kerry began her career as a consultant with McKinsey and Andersen Consulting (now Accenture).

Kerry holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA in Biology from Duke University.  She serves on the board of Texas 4000 for Cancer, the advisory boards for Texas Enactus and the Austin Tech Alliance, and on the leadership teams of Women@Austin, and the Austin chapters of Harvard Business School Alumni Club, and the DukeGEN Global Entrepreneurship Network. She is an avid adventurer that has visited over 50 countries and 49 US states.

Dr. Sara Brand is the Founding General Partner of True Wealth Ventures, a venture capital fund investing in women-led companies in the sustainable consumer and consumer health markets where women are making the vast majority of purchase decisions. Sara has a unique combination of capabilities as a strategic thinker integrated with a proven success record for delivering results. Over her career, she has been fortunate to work with and contribute to some of the top teams in the technology industry and has cultivated a diverse portfolio of leadership experiences including:

  • Managing $150M venture fund with four other investment professionals at Fremont Ventures in San Francisco, named as one of the top 10 venture capital firms for adding value to portfolio companies
  • Working in large tech companies including Intel, Applied Materials and Advanced Micro Devices and directly with 3 Fortune 500 CEOs and their teams in strategic and operational capacities
  • Leading business units from $0 to $100M
  • Acquiring startups and integrating them into large publicly-traded corporations & leading company mergers and cross-functional dynamics
  • Consulting across the semiconductor industry with McKinsey & Co. out of the San Francisco office
  • Founding (512) Brewing Company, the largest draught only, self-distributing microbrewery in the United States

Sara is an active member of the entrepreneurial ecosystem to support gender diversity (e.g., founding investor in the Rising Tide Fund, advisor to DivInc, steering committee member of Women@Austin) in the consumer health and sustainable consumer sectors (e.g. advisor to Texas Health Catalyst at Dell Medical School, mentor for CleanTech Open, judge for Food+City) and as an active speaker and writer on the topic.

Sara holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Green Design and Manufacturing, a minor in Public Health and Energy, and a Management of Technology Certification from UC Berkeley where she currently serves on the Mechanical Engineering Department’s External Advisory Board. Dr. Brand also holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from UT Austin where she now serves on the Cockrell School of Engineering’s External Advisory Board and currently acts as Senior Advisor for Health IoT to UT’s new Dell Medical School to foster health technology innovations across industry, academia and community.

Wonder Women in STEAM is presented by Michael Best. We are so grateful for their generous support.

Special thanks to Barnes Team Media for donating their services to produce the Wonder Women in STEAM video series.

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