I want to support people and ideas that expand human consciousness, that help others experience the fullness and richness of the moment.

SOMETHING THAT MAKES ME LAUGH: Trying to have it all figured out. SOMETHING I CANNOT DO WITHOUT: Gratitude. It’s easy to dwell on what we want, but so satisfying to savor what we have. FAVORITE DISH: Thai green curry (ideally on some remote beach in Thailand)

Shelby Clark

Empowering the world to find authenticity

MEANINGFUL ENTREPRENEURSHIP. Shelby Clark has been at the top. But the founder of Turo, a peer-to-peer car sharing company that had filed paperwork for a multi-billion dollar IPO at the time of printing, says, “I found the success to be empty.” If you’ve been encouraged from a young age to get good grades so you can get into good schools, starting a billion-dollar company might seem like the pinnacle of success. “Yet when I got there,” Shelby says, “I was like, ‘Wait, that’s it?’”

On a snowy Thanksgiving in Boston in 2008, Shelby did not have a car. He reserved one on Zipcar that was 2.5 miles away. Shelby trudged past a line of parked cars in the sleet and snow, he thought, “Why do I have to get past these cars to get to my car?” That inspired Shelby to create a network for car-sharing and helped him recognize the positive environmental and social impacts it would have. “I saw this as the opportunity to create something important in the world.”

Shelby was pleased with Turo but as he stepped down from his role as CEO, he started to question what was left to accomplish with the company, and what he could do next. Would he start another company? What kind of company? Would it need to be more successful, with an even higher value?

A 2017 trip to Bali for yoga training led him to change his perspective from focusing on the endless hamster wheel seeking what he needed to feel complete, to finding deep gratitude for the richness in his life, and feeling connection to his community and to nature. He says, “I want to support people and ideas that expand human consciousness, that help others experience the fullness and richness of the moment.”

In the years that followed, Shelby joined a venture fund called Lionheart Ventures which invests in companies evolving human consciousness. He also co-founded a wellness retreat and community in Costa Rica called Holos Diamante, where he is developing a queer-focused neighborhood. In Costa Rica and beyond, Shelby has begun hosting Queer Wellness Retreats, intending to create experiences that are deeply healing, provide experience of connection and balance, and build a sense of community among the queer community.

DISCOVERING IDENTITY. As Shelby founded Turo, he found the opportunity to discover a new self. When he came out around the time he launched the company, he felt like a weight was lifted off his shoulders. “Being an entrepreneur is so consuming,” Shelby says. Before starting the company, people warned him it would be an emotional roller coaster, with highs and lows more extreme than he might expect.

“My identity was tied to my company, and I was so afraid my company wouldn’t succeed.” Shelby worried about sharing his personal life with potential investors, but when he decided to stop hiding it, he found a renewed energy. “I had spent so much time and energy hiding who I was. In the end it wasn’t even that big of a deal.” Having grown up in a world of fraternities and athletic teams - environments dominated by straight, white men - he feared he wouldn’t be accepted. Instead, he learned, “Places where I shine the most are where I can be myself.”

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Gaingels 100 2023
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1st Edition

Presented with Pride Here is the first collection of one hundred incredible and inspiring LGBTQIA+ venture-backed entrepreneurs featured in this year's Gaingels 100.

Gaingels 100 2023