Innovator Stories

Venture Feature: Liz Leahy, ’96CBS Founder of Purple Sage Ventures

Join us as we catch up with venture capitalists in the Columbia alumni network who are defining the next generation of investments.


What is the focus of Purple Sage Ventures

Purple Sage Ventures invests in early stage start-ups with diverse founders. 

Our primary focus is on products/services that increase business and personal productivity, innovate supply chains, and reimagine wellness. We invest in seed stage companies that are post-launch, with at least 6 months of revenue and/or customer traction.  We also participate in Series A rounds via co-investment with other like-minded funds and/or as a follow-ons to one of our previous investments.  

What made you interested in starting a fund? 

Recent 2021 data suggests that less than 3% of female-led companies get funding, fewer than 15% of all VC partners are women, and 65% of U.S. venture capital firms lack female partners.

The enormous gap in gender funding led me to believe there is an opportunity to help create value. 

In my experience, diverse founding teams produce equal and/or better results than their homogenous counterparts. Simply put, diverse founding teams are an undervalued asset class, and focusing on this area yields positive returns while having a transformative impact. Additionally, by having an early stage focus, Purple Sage Ventures can provide strategic guidance, input, and support during an incredibly chaotic and crucial phase. 

What is an emerging trend or investment area that’s particularly exciting to you right now?

Supply chain management is shifting from a linear model towards a more connected network to better coordinate supply, demand, inventory, and capacity data.Companies want more visibility and flexibility: Recent pandemic-era disruptions highlight the need for technology that can ensure business continuity to avoid potential interruptions. 

One example is in-demand forecasting and inventory management where Artificial Intelligence is enabling the use of localized inventory management strategies based on demographic trends and real-time market conditions. 

What is a company you’ve invested in that you are very excited about, that others should be excited about too? 

Renewal Mill, an upcycled food company that fights climate change and global food loss by upcycling byproducts from food manufacturing into superfood ingredients, premium, plant-based pantry staples and baking mixes. 

Many companies are moving towards carbon neutrality in order to court a growing sustainability-focused consumer base. Renewal Mill stands out because the product itself comes from an upcycling process, making sustainability easily accessible. I love their tagline, “Fight climate change from your kitchen, one delicious bite at a time.”

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