Fall 2019

SPOTLIGHT The Fourth Floor provides women with an opportunity to access board seats, investment opportunities, and growth for themselves by creating an ecosystem that primarily benefits women. I t was a hot evening in May 2019. Buckets of steamy rain poured down on New York City as Breen Sullivan, Founder of The Fourth Floor, prepared for the company’s beta launch. This event was the culmination of months of research and hustle. The business model had the potential to positively impact female entrepreneurship but now Breen was concerned that the weather would scare invitees away. Breen Sullivan is a career in-house attorney having built the legal function for two high-growth technology companies. She is a seasoned business executive with investment and board experience and is currently the CAO and GC of Watermark, an education technology company. The seed of The Fourth Floor was planted when Breen was asked to incorporate an industry specific investment group. As she filled out the incorporation paperwork, she realized that this business perpetuated traditional male power broking, a system that has been around for hundreds of years. Men start businesses. Men invest in those businesses. And in return, men are offered board seats to assist those same businesses. This ecosystem benefits all players, except those who are not in it. Namely, women. This frustrated Breen and inspired her to enact change. Although studies show that diversity adds value, in 2018, female led startups received only 2.2% of venture capital funding. And according to a Venturebeat article, a mere 29% of startups have a woman on their board of directors. To influence these numbers, California was the first state to require publicly traded companies to have at least one woman on their board of directors by the end of 2019. And by the close of 2021, California requires a minimum of two female directors if the company has five directors on its board, or three women if it has seven directors. But despite these trends and even though in-house lawyers often have board and business expertise, female attorneys do not often serve as independent directors on boards. Lawyers may be pigeonholed as too risk-averse to empower a business to scale. This stereotype is untrue as typically, legal executives are valuable business savvy professionals and integral to growth. Breen hypothesized that women’s careers and companies will advance when female legal executives, founders, and industry leaders meet, invest, advise, and generally support each other. A next level community. She introduced the idea to Sarah Feingold, another career in-house attorney. Sarah jumped to join Breen as co-founder of The Fourth Floor. In late 2018, Breen and Sarah held a handful of focus groups. They hoped to garner insights into how The Fourth Floor could empower its members. On little notice, small conference rooms Sarah Feingold The Fourth Floor Providing access to board seats, investment opportunities, and growth. Men start businesses. Men invest in those businesses. And in return, men are offered board seats to assist those same businesses. This ecosystem benefits all players, except those who are not in it. Namely, women. 76 enterprising Women

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