My favorite quote is: “Fortune favors the bold.” – Latin proverb My favorite sports are: Swimming and kickboxing
A SENSE OF ADVENTURE. When it comes to startups, Moj Mahdara is a sought-after professional. For two decades, their passion for building companies and ability to deftly navigate the peaks and valleys have led to a career filled with success stories.
"I've always enjoyed the early days of getting a business off the ground the most," they explain. "I like the long hours, the friction, and the hard discussions about product market fit. I've had the privilege of having great success and some failures - and let me tell you, the failures are better teachers to you than your successes."
With years of experience growing companies on a global scale, Moj has now established themselves as a full-time investor. Through being a partner at Intuition Capital, they have invested in over 100 startups, helping to build companies with bold ambitions led by outlier founders. Now, with their latest venture Kinship Ventures, they aim to bring more diversity and inclusion to the cap table. Kinship Ventures is a $30+ million early-stage fund that is bringing a community of power-players and thought leaders who refuse to stay under-represented to the cap tables of the next generation of consumer and tech goods companies.
Born in Kentucky to entrepreneurial parents who emigrated from Iran, Moj says their career path "was always a foregone conclusion". However, after being emancipated from their family at 17 and dropping out of college, their early years as a founder were, in fact, self-taught. "If I was to think of my bag of things that have made me successful, I've always been great at surrounding myself with people who are incredibly smart, accomplished, and willing to mentor."
Growing up with a media-internet-first mindset and a passion for culture, entertainment, and building communities, Moj soon discovered their sweet spot in tech growth companies in the consumer space. In the early aughts, they founded two digital consultancy agencies that helped brands grow their online audience. Their natural flair as a marketer and firm grasp of the consumer mindset is a characteristic they attribute to their intersectionality of identities.
"Communities have always been interesting to me. As a child of immigrant parents, I think when you have a deep sense of not belonging to any one community, you become hyper-aware and sensitive of what creates that sense of belongingness and tribalism within communities."
Of all their ventures, Moj says Beautycon is "one of the greatest loves of my life". Taking the helm as CEO in 2015, they transformed the company from a B2B conference into a multi million-dollar, consumer-facing cosmetics summit. By creating a global community for content creators (Beautycon was held in multiple markets, from New York City to Los Angeles and London), Beautycon helped redefine the beauty industry, bridging the gap between consumers and professionals and establishing broader diversity and inclusion.
ADVOCATING FOR FOUNDERS. As a self-described "queer, butch, Iranian person," Moj is well-versed in the difficulties of navigating the cis, straight, white male-dominated world of venture capitalism. While they are optimistic the next flock of startups is shifting away from the "gnarly, move-fast-and-break-things" culture of the past two decades, she's conscious of the emotional labor minority founders still endure in the startup world.
"I don't know any founders who are like me that were able to raise tens of millions of dollars back in the days of Beautycon the way I did. It was a difficult time then. It's caused me trauma, pain, bitterness, isolation, frustration, and, at times, mental anguish. There have been days I've wished I was someone else; when you feel, hey, I'm a smart person who deserves a shot – why am I not getting the same opportunities? But this is all learning and helps you hone your skills.”
After co-founding Kinship Ventures (alongside Gwyneth Paltrow) in 2022, Moj says the experience has had a profound effect on their outlook as a founder. "Will I be recognized as some mogul? I don't think I care about that anymore. I care about my legacy as a non-binary queer person and supporting founders by helping them win and building companies that matter.
"But I also see myself as the founder of my own startup. I'm overhauling my processing systems, upgrading my operating software, and relearning myself.”