Brittany Heyd, co-founder of Mana Up
What did you want to be when you grew up? I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be when I grew up! I think it’s better not having a predefined journey and allowing flexibility in your plans as you learn and get older. I knew I wanted to go to grad school, travel internationally, and have a job that “made the world better”... but I had no idea what that would be. I ended up traveling across the world and got my law degree and Masters of Public Policy from Georgetown, so I checked that off! In the years since, I’ve been part of starting two venture capital funds investing in entrepreneurs. It’s exciting to be part of equipping the next generation of business leaders and supporting how their ventures lead to social impact and jobs created.
What was your top professional achievement in 2021? Our team’s top achievement from 2021 was launching our $6.3 million venture capital fund. Investment capital is a game-changing addition to what we offer entrepreneurs as part of Mana Up to grow their businesses.
Who was your first mentor, and what did you learn from them? I’ve had many mentors throughout my life and I’m grateful for every one of them. My first mentor was a college professor who helped me to navigate internships, job applications and applications to law school. It’s incredibly valuable to have someone in your court, not only as a reference but also to provide insight as you chart your own course. I also think it’s helpful to have several mentors in different areas of your life. You can learn so much from other people’s experiences and perspectives.
What has been your strategy in leading your team through the pandemic? One of the more challenging parts of the pandemic as a business owner is that it is hard to plan. Over the summer, it’s super busy and sales are up. Then it’s down. What will the holidays look like?
As a result, our strategy in leading the team through the pandemic is to be agile and find opportunities to do things in a new or different way. For example, this year we launched our “Meet the Makers” livestream series with Hawaiian Airlines, going live with nine of our entrepreneurs to get a virtual behind-the-scenes look at Hawaii’s rising entrepreneurs. It’s been a hit — we’ve had over 50,000 people tune in!