A Meaningful Investment

Why is it that only in times of marriage or childbirth are people given permission to curate a registry? Only in celebration, it seems, can individuals ask for what they need, but what about in times of loss, pain, and tragedy?

South Sound native Laura Malcolm and her husband, James Kocsis, recognized this gap after experiencing a tragedy of their own. When Laura was eight months pregnant, the couple’s first child’s heart inexplicably stopped beating.

The grieving parents were surrounded by people who wanted to help, but many of them didn’t know how. Questions from loved ones arose. How can I help? Should I send flowers? Are they up for visitors? Can I cook them a meal? Do they want to talk about it? What do they need?

“We started thinking, ‘Why isn’t this all together in one place where people can find what to send, what to say, what to do?’” Malcolm said.

She and her husband, who worked in tech startups for most of their careers, formulated the concept for a startup of their own — Give InKind, a platform designed to divert some of the work that’s created for both care-givers and recipients when life delivers an unexpected turn. A Give InKind page contains features such as a care calendar, a wish list, and the ability to link crowd-funding and other resources. For example, say your friend was recently diagnosed with cancer. During treatment, they may need transportation to doctor appointments, help walking their dog, and require meal assistance.

The beta version launched in 2016. Now, three years and two healthy children later, Malcolm is the founder and CEO of a virally growing, revenue-creating company, and recently completed the Female Founders Alliance’s “Ready Set Raise” accelerator program in Seattle, designed to create access to venture capital for female-led companies.

“There’s a startup term known as the Goldilocks zone — you’re not so hot that you’re out there getting money thrown at you, but you are warm enough that raising makes sense,” Malcolm said. “The time was absolutely right (to participate in the program). I needed to capitalize on our growth.”

And capitalize on it, she did.

“I had set a goal to raise $500,000 at the start of this,” Malcolm said, explaining that even though she believed in her company’s investment potential, Seattle’s venture capital community felt a little unattainable. By the end of the program, the Gig Harbor resident was reassured in the capacity of Give InKind. “We had to extend our investment period, because the money just kept coming.

She exceeded her goal by triple the amount — having raised $1.5 million.

“It still hasn’t really sunk in,” she admitted from her new office space in Tacoma’s Pioneer Collective.

Malcolm and her fellow participants underwent six weeks of intensive training on pitch coaching, financial modeling, brand messaging, storytelling, and more, before they presented their refined pitches to a crowd of active investors. “They’ve created a program that is democratizing access,” Malcolm said.

Ready Set Raise, now in its second year, has a goal of addressing the gender disparity that exists in venture capital: Although roughly 40 percent of businesses are owned by women, less than 3 percent of capital funds are invested in women-owned organizations.

The program is clearly doing what it set out to do, Malcolm claims. “It’s really inspirational to be surrounded by people validating that you do have something huge, and it’s okay to stand up every once in a while and look at how big it is and where it could go,” Malcolm said. “People I talk to believe in Give InKind’s ability to change the world, but that’s a different question from, ‘How can it make an investor 10 times their investment?’ So that’s what (I worked) on conveying in the program. Because I believe we can do both.”

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