Learn from the brightest minds of Michigan

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In this episode of our podcast, we sit down with Cindy Padnos, a distinguished University of Michigan alumna and the trailblazing founder and Managing Partner of Illuminate Ventures. With over 25 years in the tech industry, Cindy shares a treasure trove of insights from her multifaceted career—spanning roles as an entrepreneur, management consultant, corporate executive, and now a visionary investor.

Cindy delves into her journey from Michigan to the peak of venture capitalism, exploring how her academic background fueled her professional prowess. She recounts the genesis of Illuminate Ventures in 2009, revealing the confluence of experiences that inspired its creation. Cindy also reflects on the critical interplay between founding a company and investing in one, discussing how her entrepreneurial ventures shaped her investment strategies.

Cindy opens up about a setback that morphed into a powerful learning moment, influencing her future decisions. She articulates the unique investment thesis that sets Illuminate Ventures apart from other early-stage VCs and concludes with heartfelt guidance for the young and ambitious—especially those at her alma mater in Michigan.

Join us to listen to Cindy's inspiring journey!

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