Hi, I’m Cait Tolman. It’s my passion to work alongside founders, leveraging my experiences, and knowledge of venture and capital markets, as a resource to drive growth in the life science and healthcare innovation ecosystem.
My roots: people first
Born and raised in Massachusetts, my academic journey took me to UMass Amherst, where I studied sociology, psychology, education and public health. The blend of these programs was my first exposure to the tremendous impact that relationship building and human connection can have in the fields of healthcare and education.
I entered the job market just prior to the 2008 recession, and was incredibly fortunate to land a position at Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) in client services. I supported the private equity and life science communities, as their first point of contact in navigating cash management and financial operations. At that specific time in the market, companies and firms of all sizes were experiencing challenges, and it was in this role where I learned the importance of empathic listening, responsiveness, and building trust and partnership. I interacted with CEOs, CFO’s, and General Partners, and gained exposure and education to understanding financial infrastructures and operations and funding sources. SVB is where I learned about entrepreneurship, venture capital, and the innovation economy, and gained technical skills across project management and business operations.
Life science, healthcare and VC market exposure
I realized I wanted to take my project management skills and adapt them to relationship management and business development efforts. I had the opportunity to create a new role at SVB, building sales tools, data insights, and instituting measurement frameworks to support relationship management teams in their efforts to capture market share across life science venture capital and startup clients. In my role I sourced and analyzed market data on investment and exit trends in the life science and healthcare sector, helping me deeply understand the various players that fund a startup throughout its growth. I learned how to identify and evaluate the different investor classes - institutional, corporate, PE, and hedge/crossover. I learned how to categorize investment thesis for new and active investors, typical valuations, and deal sizes by modality and indication, and predictors of financings from seed to IPO. I co-authored a leading insights report putting this data into the hands of VC's and founders to support their respective fundraising efforts and investor engagements. In many ways, this stop in my career path gave me my hard skills as a coach, and helped me gain relationships across the major stakeholders in the venture ecosystem.
At the final stage of my tenure with SVB, I moved into a senior leadership role, leading the bank's engagements with global Life Science and Healthcare Corporate Venture, Business Development, and Innovation arms. In this role I gained an understanding of growth equity financing sources, and exposure to how startups research and prepare to drive successful revenue partnerships, and acquisition engagements.
During my time at SVB I had the incredible opportunity to support senior executives in SVB’s Life Science practice, many of which I am fortunate to call mentors to this day. These individuals advocated for me to support a number of strategic projects, and in turn, I had a front row seat to learn from their growth as leaders. It is here where I found my passion for relationship management operations.
A deep dive into equity and capital markets at Carta
In an effort to refine my operations and strategy skills, and to learn about the value exchange between startups and investors, I joined Carta in January of 2020. I took on a leadership role to build out their first dedicated industry vertical team, and in exchange, I gained a tremendous education on the mechanics of private and public equity management. And the role of equity as an exchange of ownership; between VC and founders, and between founders and their teams. At Carta, I was given the opportunity to find my own leadership voice, in turning an exercise in go to market strategy into a practice. Aligning stakeholders across marketing, strategy, operations, business development, product, sales, and orchestrating collaboration among Cartans of various levels of experience, entry level to executive, I learned how to align resources to drive revenue, grow brand recognition, and foster trust with internal and external stakeholders. It is here where I learned the value of servant leadership, bringing focus and dedication to my passion for developing others as a manager and people leader. At this stop in my journey is also where I began coaching and advising, supporting early stage and first time Founders with their fundraising research and strategy efforts.
Supporting investments at Lifeforce Capital
I have always had an incredible passion and curiosity for venture in life sciences and healthcare. As highly regulated industries, company formation is inherently challenging, and cannot exist without capital allocators that are comfortable with supporting that risk. How is it that venture investors assess and evaluate this risk? How is this in turn impactful on venture performance? In the spring of 2021, I set out to answer these questions in joining LifeForce Capital to lead their Operations efforts. While at LifeForce I was given the opportunity to work side by side with the firm's general partners in building the firm's infrastructure in financial operations, legal and compliance, portfolio operations and investor relations. I learned the mechanics of venture, from diligence to deal structuring. I supported all functions that led to an investment being made, and a portfolio being built. This role gave me experience in the business of fundraising–for both startups and venture firms–and how to align resources and partnerships to drive scale and success throughout the process.
Becoming your coach
While at LifeForce, I was introduced to Jaye, by a mutual friend and partner, and we immediately hit it off. We went on long walks and talked about our shared passion for coaching and supporting technical founders in finding their voice as business leaders. After nearly a year of getting to know each other and seeing how aligned we are, I decided to partner with Jaye in supporting Founder to Leader’s clients, helping them develop and execute on their fundraising strategy. In my work as a coach I support Founders in an advisory and tactical approach. Whether it’s performing investor research and diligence, drafting and practicing your pitch, reviewing and negotiating terms, I look forward to partnering with you on the journey ahead!