Karen Griffith Gryga

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Location: Philadelphia, PA
Founded: 2008
Industry: Venture capital

Karen Griffith Gryga
Chief Investment Officer and Managing Partner

DreamIt Ventures

As an accelerator, DreamIt Ventures works with early-stage entrepreneurs to help them validate their businesses and manage risks. In return for helping entrepreneurs assess market fit, business models and target customers, the company receives equity in the resulting startups. “We’ve launched 220 companies since 2008,” says Karen Griffith Gryga, chief investment officer and managing partner at DreamIt.

Fun Fact: Gryga founded a program at DreamIt called DreamIt Athena, which is specifically focused on female founders.

After being a venture capitalist for 14 years and co-founding a $150 million fund, Gryga decided to go into business for herself. That business eventually failed, but the experience taught her some valuable lessons: “Being an entrepreneur, you can’t be afraid to fail. … Knowing that you have the resilience to pick yourself up from your bootstrap and say, ‘Okay, well, that was terrible, but what am I going to do next?’ is what makes it possible to do it all over again and start up a second business.”

Under Gryga’s leadership, DreamIt has raised a fund to provide follow-on investments to its companies. “I was the one who drove the formation and fundraising of the fund itself,” says Gryga. “We’ve had a major impact on Philadelphia, because we brought entrepreneurs from across the country and [from other countries] to the city. In many cases, our entrepreneurs choose to stay here because they develop their first customer relationships here.”