Hi, I'm Melissa.
I am co-founder and Managing Partner of RevUp Capital. I care a lot about innovating the capital toolkit so more founders can find success. I've been interested in business models and breaking boundaries for a long time. If you ask my mom, she'd say I was born friendly, funny, and functionally non-compliant. She's not wrong.
Professionally, I am most interested in three things. 1) Supporting founders who are building their businesses without the benefits of economic and social privilege. 2) Helping companies choose their own adventure as they go from early market traction to ~$10M in revenue; and 3) Bringing new, non-VC models to market.
There IS a backstory.
As a 1980's Latchkey kid. I watched Welcome Back, Kotter re-runs like it was a religious calling. TV was my babysitter. Books were my buddies. Staying up late to watch Fantasy Island was the goal. The overwrought stories of 1980s pop culture were my portal into a world of infinite potential.
Fast forward a few years, and I was the first person in my family to graduate college. Yes, I worked on the college newspaper, wrote poetry, and tried to publish a 'Zine. By the time I entered grad school to study science and technical communications, I had worked as a waitress, caterer, dog groomer, housekeeper, library attendant, and bookstore clerk. By the time I finished grad school, I was working with some of the most decorated scientists in the world at my dream job: translating science into stories that non-scientists could understand.
Storytelling is the glue that holds my resume together. In science, it was bridging the gap between the bench and the public opinions that fund it. In economic development, I was re-framing the future of work. As a founder, I promoted business model innovation by telling stories of what lies beyond the status quo. As an early stage investor? Well, what's a startup if not a helluva good story. And RevUp? A re-write on how to deploy capital in a way that makes founders and investors happy. Story, story, story.
Good news: If you are looking for a "real" bio to include in a speaker program, it's right below! The transactional details of my career can also be found on LinkedIn.
Beyond my work at RevUp, I am host and creator of (Un)Founded, a podcast exploring startup culture and business building. I have unattractive toenails thanks to being a 2019 Boston Marathon finisher, a 2018 Chicago Marathon finisher, a 2018 Philadelphia Marathon finisher and a 2017 Narragansett Bay Marathon finisher. #AllDoneWithThat.
On the daily, I am a proud mom to a beautiful boy, I am an amateur boxer, and I LOVE being outdoors. Dogs, mostly. Gin over whiskey, but not fussy if the company is good. I can be reached at melissa at revupfund.com.
The Workhorse Bio
RevUp Capital Founder and Managing Partner Melissa Withers is an experienced investor, fund manager and business builder with 120+ investments under management. Melissa began investing as Managing Director of a pre-seed fund that invested in 80+ companies. Frustrated by the constraints of the equity-only model, Melissa then co-founded RevUp Capital, one of the world’s first revenue-based funds for early stage companies. Through RevUp she has invested into 40+ companies across North America, producing exceptional results for founders and investors alike. Melissa is also founder of Operation Athena, an investment resource for female founders and black and brown entrepreneurs. With a background in life sciences, Melissa started her career at Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at MIT, working at the intersection of basic research, communication, and public policy. Melissa’s first entrepreneurial experience was as co-founder of the Business Innovation Factory, which she exited in 2010. She’s spent time in public service at the state and municipal level, working in economic development and city management. She is also co-host of the podcast (Un)Founded, where she explores entrepreneurship and the experience of founders who build businesses without the perks of socio-economic privilege. Most importantly, she’s a proud mom to her son, an amatuer boxer, and a devotee to enjoying the great outdoors.
This is a photo of me and my older cousin Kim. I am not sure she knows it, but she was my first mentor. This picture reminds me how hard it is to be a good advisor, especially to first time founders. It takes effort to both push and protect, to know when to teach, when to help, and when to get out of the way. I hope one day my mentees will say that I got it (mostly) right.
Talking & Squawking:
Me Talking Shit About Investing on the YCities Podcast