Curate Capital founder Carrie Colbert has just finished a meeting with Glamhive founder and CEO Stephanie Spranger, in from Seattle for a business meeting, and invited Spranger to join us as we talk about Colbert’s launch into the world of venture capital.
Glamhive is one of a handful of burgeoning endeavors that Colbert and her business partner/husband Mark Latham have taken under their Houston-based wing since founding Curate Capital in 2020. They expect to complete their $10 million raise by Q2 while continuing to seek out female-founded and operated companies that could benefit from an infusion of capital as well as from the duo’s business acumen.
Many recognize the Carrie Colbert name as the force behind the mantra “More Color Please,” her breezy blog and Instagram account. Social media influencer was the path she took after working in oil and gas for close to 20 years, five years prior to launching the venture capital fund.
One might be tempted to dismiss a financier immeshed in rainbow colors, flowers and brightly-colored fashion. But that would be a mistake. Colbert, 44, holds both an engineering degree (3.98 grade point) and an MBA from the University of Texas. Most of her oil and gas career was spent as part of the leadership team at Hillcorp Energy Company, one of the largest oil and gas companies in the Houston market.
“I learned so many invaluable lessons in an entrepreneurial way: company culture, strategy,” Colbert says. “These were great lessons and I was fortunate to be there while we made a lot of good transactions.”
Those transactions allowed Colbert to retire from oil and gas, pursue her penchant for color and ultimately turn to a more serious business endeavor, to what she describes as “the intersection of creative pursuits and business acumen.”
“Frankly, I was just ready for a different challenge. So I stepped away about five years ago and didn’t really know what was next,” she continues, adding that it was something of an organic process.
Through the blog, Instagram and the resulting speaking engagements, Colbert began connecting with female business founders across the country. Relationships formed and she began personally investing in women-owned businesses.
“Investing in women is not the primary motivator,” she says. “Instead, what we’re finding is that these are great opportunities that investors wouldn’t have access to otherwise because these women are not accessing traditional venture capital. These businesses are out-performing the market and we have the inside track on it.”
Glamhive, an international virtual styling service, was one of those. Colbert and Spranger crossed paths at a conference and soon developed an investment relationship.
“Capital totally helps but the bonus is having an investor that’s a woman, that’s an influencer, that can speak at our events, that understands the customer, all of it,” Spranger says. “It’s really helpful.”
Austin-based Packed Party is one of Colbert’s early success stories. Founder Jordan Jones and Colbert connected through Instagram and when Jones needed cash input to expand her joyful paper goods brand, Colbert was there in 2016, with her own money. Three years later, Jones was named one of Forbe’s 30 Under 30.
Today, Packed Party has a line of party accessories exclusive to Walmart (orders doubling this year over last) and her paper products are carried by Whole Foods, HEB, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Dillards.
As for the female-oriented focus, Colbert explains, “It just makes good business sense. These businesses are exceeding expectations, growing faster than the market would predict. It’s truly a business decision for me grounded in fundamentals. It’s not just like a cause that I’m out there fighting for.”
“I don’t want to fix a company. I want to find those winners out there and put some accelerant to the fire, so to speak.”
Colbert notes that Curate Capital makes the push by providing capital and mentorship, by taking active board positions and advisory roles in their invested companies.