We Meet Ingrid Vanderveldt, Dell’s Entrepreneur in Residence

Ingrid Vanderveldt is an entrepreneur and investor whose work is focused on providing tools, technology and resources to empower entrepreneurs around the globe.

She is the Entrepreneur in Residence for Dell and owner of Ingrid Vanderveldt LLC, as well as VH2 Energy Investments. 

 As Dell’s first Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR), Ingrid serves as the bridge between Dell executives and the entrepreneur community. Ingrid created and oversees the $100M Dell Innovators Credit Fund and The Dell Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2012, Ingrid helped architect The Federal EIR Bill with Senator Mary Landreau (LA) and Representative Mike Honda (CA), and is currently working on legislation with State Senators to bring out a State-wide EIR bill in 2013. She is also the co-founder of The Billionaire Girls Club and is a Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network Member. 

In her philanthropic work, she is currently working on her first entrepreneurship and leadership school for women and girls, and has provided grants to 27 women entrepreneurs in Haiti. Ingrid is the 2012 Alumna of the Year for The Savannah College of Art & Design where she earned a Masters in Architecture. She also holds an MBA in entrepreneurship from The University of Texas at Austin. Follow her at @ontheroadwithiv.

We spoke to Ingrid about her mission to empower a billion Women by 2020; her advice for those with a fear of tech; and the most memorable entrepreneur she met whilst filming “On the Road with iV”

TNW: Since the start of your EIR residency, what projects have you been working on?  What additional external projects are you working on?  (The Glass Forum, CNBC, VH2, Billionaire Girls Club, Dell Center for Entrepreneurs…) 

IV: Since joining as Dell’s Entrepreneur in Residence, the team and I have been incredibly busy. We are all so passionate about helping entrepreneurs and see the amazing opportunity to help them in a way that's never been done before, with the support of a large company’s resources and experience. Almost a year ago, on July 6th 2012, I launched the Dell Innovators Credit Fund, a  fund that provides VC-funded and angel-backed companies up to $100M in the financial and scalable technology resources they need to encourage innovation, bolster speed-to-market and job creation.

Our aim is to get end-to-end, scalable technology solutions in the hands of growing businesses during that crucial early time in market. 

Also launched at the same time, and a part of the same program, is the Dell Founders Club, a hand-picked group of CEO’s and Founders who see technology as critical to future growth, are looking to scale very quickly, and have immediate technology needs. Founders Club members enjoy exclusive benefits including concierge-level support and opportunities to network with other fast-growing startups. 

In addition to these resources to support access to capital and technology, my team has also been making strides to clear the pathway to success by making it easier for small and medium sized growing businesses to work with government. In partnership with the Dell Government Affairs team, both Federal and state-level EIR bills have been introduced nationwide. The goal of the legislation is to ease regulatory issues and constraining processes that slow or prohibit these small businesses to grow. 

My role as EIR is a more than a full time one. 

Thankfully, I am really blessed that I am able to continue to move the ball forward on my personal goal of Empowering a Billion Women by 2020 through many of the initiatives at Dell.

Dell is incredibly committed to helping women succeed in business, and is a well-aligned partner to further both my personal and professional goals of empowering women while in residence. 

TNW: What have you most enjoyed about your EIR role and how has becoming effectively an ‘intrapreneur’ differed from being an entrepreneur?

IV: There are so many things that I enjoy about this role. The most amazing opportunity for an entrepreneur is to be able to work inside a large corporation, but with an entrepreneur’s perspective and personality. It’s been an incredible experience that I learn from and grow from daily. Another great part is that Dell is, by nature, an entrepreneurial organization. Although it was almost 30 years ago that Michael started Dell in his dorm room, the entrepreneurial spirit is very much alive today. It’s exciting to get to work collaboratively and innovatively with so many different departments without the typical red tape of other large organizations. 

Lastly, I’d say the opportunity to fundamentally help entrepreneurs and women business owners realize their success has been a huge source of accomplishment for me.

I often describe our programs for entrepreneurs as “opening the hood of a Fortune 50,” as we truly are taking a deep look insight the expertise, experience and offerings Dell can bring to the table and become a critical partner to growing businesses’ success.

TNW: Please tell us about your project: Empowering a billion:  how are you doing?  On track?

IV:

Empowering a Billion Women by 2020 is what drives my every day. I truly believe that to achieve global sustainability, the world must see through a new set of eyes - those of women.

I am most passionate about helping women become stewards of their own lives, through empowering them with the right tools, resources and knowledge to help drive their businesses, careers and ultimately, financial stability and wealth. My ultimate goal is to get a mobile device in the hands of women around the world, which would allow critical access to networks, capital, markets and opportunities to power their dreams.

Last winter, I partnered with Thunderbird for Good and the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Haitian Cohort to provide small business grants and Dell laptops to 27 women entrepreneurs. It was an incredible experience to meet them while on campus in Arizona, and then travel to Haiti to see them in their hometown and further understand their struggles and opportunities. I look forward to being able to provide more support to many more women worldwide, over the next 7 years - and beyond. 

TNW: We have also heard that as part of your extensive philanthropic work, you are setting up an entrepreneurship and leadership school.  We would love to hear more about that and in particular, the 27 grants already given to female entrepreneurs in Haiti.  

IV:

I believe that scalable mentorship is one of the most effective, efficient and realistic ways to begin providing global populations of women with support.

I had originally looked into opening a school in Haiti, but realized that I could build something bigger with more reach utilizing technology and a global platform. After my role as Dell’s EIR transitions out and I am able to dedicate more time, I will be devoting my time and work to seeing this through. 

TNW: It is widely publicized that you believe technology to be the key denominator to the success of growing companies.  What advice do you have for those that have a fear of technology?  How are you/Dell trying to assuage such fears? 

IV: This is understandably a fear in the world. We see the power of technology every day, and know that with such power, comes great responsibility. I enjoy, very much so, showcasing our 65+ Founders Club Members. The companies that comprise the portfolio are incredible examples of technology being leveraged to create positive change and growth in the world.

There is also the misconception that technology requires a lot of money, knowledge and experience to use successfully.

This is not the case, and the many entrepreneurial programs I oversee at Dell are built to show that success is not just for the already successful. We fundamentally believe that, with the right solutions, support and resources, anyone can leverage technology to advance their career path or business endeavor.

TNW: Tell us about the Dell innovators Credit Fund: Do those that are successful in securing funding tend to have certain common key traits? 

IV: The Dell $100M Innovators Credit Fund which is a program that provides VC-funded and Angel-backed companies up to $100M in the financial and scalable technology resources they need to encourage innovation, bolster speed-to-market and job creation. Our aim is to get end-to-end, scalable technology solutions in the hands of growing businesses during that crucial early time in market.  As mentioned, those that are part of the program are CEO’s and Founders who see technology as critical to future growth, are looking to scale very quickly, and have immediate technology needs.

TNW: When did you know you wanted to become an entrepreneur?  If you hadn’t chosen entrepreneurship, what alternative career path might you have pursued?

IV: I originally was set out to be a Missionary. Then through the course of exploring that path, I realized that there were many ways to help others live a full life, and one of those was through financial and entrepreneurship literacy.

I believe I was born an entrepreneur, because I can’t remember anything different.

I’ve always sought to make opportunities accessible to many. I actually went to school for Architecture. It’s still a passion of mine, and will always be so if I hadn’t become an entrepreneur I probably would have focused on that.

TNW: What does a typical day in your life look like?    

IV: There really isn’t a typical one. There are routine things that I do every day and try to accomplish, but no two days ever look the same. I am a fiercely committed meditator. It’s an absolute must for me. I typically start my days looking inward. Also along this path, exercise is critical for me to remain on top of my game and energized enough to tackle the long hours and intense concentration. I enjoy running or hopping on an exercise bike with the headphones on and tuned totally into what I am doing at the present moment.

TNW: What is one leadership lesson you learned the hard way and wish someone had told you at the beginning?  

There are many! One that serves as my motto is to be in service every day - to your mission and your team.

Things will get difficult at times, confusing, scary, etc., but if you are constantly aligned with staying in service to those who support you and to your ultimate impact, you can weather any storm. 

TNW: Which of the entrepreneurs that you met as part of “On the Road with iV” do you remember most vividly and why?

IV: Peter Shankman (who is now on the EIR Advisory Board), founder of HARO, a newsletter connecting media and sources, was amazing to speak with.  I was inspired by him not only for building a wildly successful company that has created a positive impact on so many entrepreneurs seeking to get their stories heard in the media, but he’s an avid skydiver too!  So we had a lot of fun talking about skydiving.  In the business world it’s nice to meet other adrenaline comrades. 

The other one would have to be Peter Himmelman.  Peter is an inspired writer, musician and director in Los Angeles.  He is hugely supportive of women, immensely creative and also committed to making the world a better place. 

I will also never forget getting to spend time with Daniel Pearl’s father Judea.  As you might recall, Daniel was the American journalist murdered in Pakistan in 2002. 

We were celebrating World Music Day which was created in honor of Daniel’s spirit.  Coincidentally, Daniel was a big fan of Peter Himmelman’s music before his death.  As a result Peter and Judea became close friends and the three of us spent the time together talking about Daniel Pearl and the impact he had on the world.  It was surreal, impactful and memorable,  AND the fact that Peter has an unparalleled talent for creating beautiful music on the fly made the experience even better.  When Peter was on my show he created a song called “IV- the skydiver” in real time.  It was so much fun.

TNW: Please share with us your ideas for ‘sustainability’ today and looking into the future.  

IV: I believe that global sustainability will happen when we see it through a new set of eyes - the eyes of women. Equality for all is critical (but must be based on real contribution as opposed to simply “just because”), access is critical, opportunity and knowledge are critical, and the ability to leverage technology as the great enabler is critical. 

That said, I still think there is plenty we can all do to contribute.  Personally, I believe getting a mobile device into the hands of every woman and enabling them to tap into the knowledge and resources they need to be successful via the Internet could make a big difference, so I am working to make that happen through my work with the UN Foundation and relationships at Dell.  

In the future, I think our world will be wireless, physical money will no longer exist and our money will be transferred strictly electronically.

We will run on electric vehicles, space travel will be an everyday thing, bartering will become more popular and women will lead the world. 

To get there, we all need to do our part and embrace personal responsibility.  It’s this same attitude that I bring into everything I do with Dell and for our entrepreneurs every day which is helping us to become the the number 1 end-to-end solutions provider for entrepreneurs and business owners worldwide. 

TNW: You are a true modern day Renaissance woman and a real inspiration: What advice can you leave us with on how you manage all of your many ventures  (and keep your sanity)?

IV: A great team- not the biggest, but the best; meditation; family time; and exercise.

Sign Up to our Newsletter

So you enjoy The NextWomen. Why not sign up to our monthly newsletter?
You get a Letter from the CEO :-), the chance to catch up with the best of our recent articles - and some extra things we throw in once in a while.

We try hard for smart reading.