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Ways to create wealth beyond the bottom line

Venture Capitalist Allison Long Pettine breaks the money-hungry investor mold, paving an unconventional yet rewarding path to wealth that goes beyond the bottom line.

Motivation can spring from unexpected places. But for investors, it often boils down to one thing: money. For them, the pursuit for financial gain often takes center stage, fueled by the promise of lucrative returns.

Naturally then, it came as a surprise when Venture Capitalist Allison Long Pettine told The CEO Magazine that she’s not really in it for the money.

“I’ve spent nearly my entire career investing, but I’ve never been motivated by money,” she admits, noting the irony. “Honestly, I didn’t realize until about five years in that most people in business were trying to make as much money as possible.

“For me, there’s always been tension between my job as an investor, maximizing financial return and creating wealth and yet, not caring about that aspect as my primary goal.”

A tale of entrepreneurial resilience

Spend some time with Pettine, and her admission becomes less shocking. Like an open book, she tells every tale that has led her to this very moment in beautiful detail.

Pettine is Managing Partner of Ridge Group Investments, Founder of Crescent Ridge Partners and Co-Founder of Ad Astra Ventures, a fund focused on investing in female founders.

Passionate, energetic and incredibly down to earth, Pettine credits her go-getter spirit to her parents.

Images by Praxis

“I grew up in a very entrepreneurial household. My parents achieved the ‘American dream’.”

“I grew up in a very entrepreneurial household,” she explains. “My parents achieved the ‘American dream’. My dad is an immigrant from China, and my mom is the daughter of immigrants.

“The pain and trauma of my ancestors, just everything they endured, is still inside of me today. But that’s why I’m here. I’m very grateful for everyone who came before me and instilled in me this idea of doing whatever it takes and sacrificing one’s own desires to create a better life for future generations,” she adds.

The black sheep of business

Despite these values being deeply ingrained in her very essence, Pettine had this nagging feeling that she never truly fit in. Whether it was at home as the daughter of immigrants or at school where she confessed she wasn’t a great student, she felt like the square peg trying to fit in a round hole.

“I didn’t learn the traditional way. I was definitely more creative. I loved art, music and spending time with friends and being around people,” she shares.

“Even in business as a woman, I continued to feel like I wasn’t fitting in. This feeling of not belonging became a part of my identity. But, I’ve noticed that a lot of people who are entrepreneurial tend to not fit into one group.”

Images by Praxis

“I realized that business can be a creative expression of who I am and what I’m passionate about.”

Being a Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) member for almost seven years has shown Pettine that it’s a good thing to stand out. The organization is full of entrepreneurs who are all succeeding by doing things differently in a way that only they can. So while she may not fit in, one thing is certain – Pettine does belong.

“I realized that business can be a creative expression of who I am and what I’m passionate about. I can build businesses and other ventures differently to how it’s traditionally been done and still be successful,” she beams.

Multi-dimensional wealth

Pettine began her career as one of the first employees of a medical device startup, so her perspective on investing has always gone beyond simply financial risk and return. And when it comes to wealth, her view is just as unconventional.

“Wealth doesn’t have to be synonymous with money,” she says, diving into how this notion led to the formulation of Ridge Group Investments’ unique 4D Wealth philosophy.

4D Wealth highlights the importance of the components that formulate a holistic and profitable way to create wealth. They occur across four dimensions – financial, relational, social and intellectual. And wealth can be maximized when all four areas are thriving,” Pettine explains.

“Wealth doesn’t have to be synonymous with money.”

The proof is in the pudding. “We did three case studies and found that when companies and leaders invested in the other three dimensions, there was a direct correlation with financial return in the long run,” she says.

“This is what excites me – the tangible evidence, showcasing that you don’t have to do things the way it’s always been done for it to be successful.”

Anything but AI

While it seems the entire world is obsessed with AI, Pettine says that Ridge Group Investments places their bets elsewhere. “We’re a little bit non-traditional in that we invest in things that can’t be ‘AI-ed’ away. We look at the things that AI will never be able to replace.

“On the private equity side, that often looks like boring businesses. For example, we have a shelving business and an auto parts business. Real estate is another one – you can’t AI your way out of real estate, so we buy up boring cash-flowing, multi-family housing in opportunity zones.

Images by Praxis

“We’re a little bit non-traditional in that we invest in things that can’t be ‘AI-ed’ away.”

“In venture, we try to focus on funding companies who are serving populations that are ignored. Ignored can mean a lot of things, but for us, it’s the niche markets that are often overlooked.

“For example, we have a company that does personalized hormone tracking for women and a company in the fragrance space that makes a completely preservative, synthetic-free fragrance for those with autoimmune disorders that can’t access fragrance otherwise.”

Back to basics

On a final note back to AI, Pettine says if she’s learned anything in her more than 20 years of experience, it’s to focus on the basics.

“I think with tech, AI cycles are shorter. Everything is faster. At Ridge Group Investments, we believe that it’s important, now more than ever, to build companies that are long lasting.

“Efficiency and speed help build long-lasting companies, but it’s not a differentiator anymore. So for the people that are sprinting, you have to think about where those efficiencies are and also understand what you’re doing that is simply good for business.”

Her final words of wisdom: Don’t be afraid to do things differently.

“Define and create your own image of success. Say no more than you say yes. Look for people you admire and take pieces of what they’ve done and combine it into what works for you,” she says.

And for early stage founders, Pettine stresses: “Don’t forget to make money.”

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