You can be the most discriminated person in the room and still not be anywhere near the most discriminated person in the building.

WHAT DO I DO WHEN I'M STRESSED: Exercise, sleep, meditate and journal. SOMETHING PEOPLE DON'T USUALLY KNOW ABOUT ME: I’m actually more of an introvert, but most people think I’m extroverted.

Rachael Rapinoe

Creating products and a company built with inclusivity at its core

REFINING SOLUTIONS TO PAINFUL PROBLEMS. Rachael Rapinoe created her company Mendi, simply out of demand. As a professional elite soccer athlete and with a masters in health and exercise, Rachael understood both the art and the science of performance-related injuries and recovery. “Year and years of injuries, treatments, pain, prescriptions, you name it, I experienced and so many people I knew and played with knew how terrible and chaotic this part of the industry has become.”

Rachael explains that it’s not just lost sleep, damaged careers and pain in question, but opiate addictions, sleeping aids, traditional medicines, alternative medicines, eastern-influenced medicines, and even snake-oil-styled scams that were keeping her up at night. “I was doing research to make sense of it all and to find something better, something healthier, and lo and behold it was cannabis.”

Because for Rachael this is personal and professional. “Back when I was playing in college, I blew out my knee at 21 and ended up having six surgeries on my knee and ankle. By the time I was 26, I had taken more opiates than anyone should have in their entire lifetime.”

This led her to the world of controlled cannabis. “And fairly quickly, my entrepreneurial brain noticed right away that, you know, athletes on the cutting edge were using them with success but in a very uneducated way, essentially using hemp or marijuana or CBD blindly, but they were willing to do that because they immediately saw the positive benefits from it. So I knew there had to be a smarter way to offer and support this success with a bit more savvy science.”

OWNING PRIVILEGE WITH A SENSE OF PURPOSE. “I don’t know that I’ve ever been overtly discriminated against. But I recognize that we live in a system where I’m not always naturally in the in-group, while often, sometimes always in that in-group. So on one hand I have a more dynamic point of view, but I also push myself to be more empathic and fight for others in the design of my company, in our customers and stakeholders.”

Rachael likes to point out the numbers too in this industry. “The number don't lie. Less than 3% of start up capital are going to female owned businesses and less than that if you're a women of color. I don't know the numbers if you're part of the LGBTQ+ community, but when I look around the room, I'm not seeing many people who like and identify like me. So when you really crunch the numbers, the 3% starts to dwindle and that can admittedly be daunting."

At the end of the day, Mendi is going to thrive not just because it’s products are effective, but because of Rachael. “The core ethos of Mendi is building a value system of inclusivity and championing true representation, in our products, in our company, in our customers, in our investors. It’s not always easy or convenient to build that into the beginning of something, but you have to value the ideas and champion them, everyday, on the field and off.”

Order your own copy of the Gaingels 100, today! Our mission is to encourage greater representation and create a more diverse, equitable, and accessible venture capital ecosystem. Elevating the stories of the most inspiring amongst us is one of the ways in which we do this.

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.