R3i Group: Building an Equitable Ecosystem for Technology and Innovation

Leesa Soulodre | General Partner | R3i Group

Leesa Soulodre is General Partner at R3i Group. Born in Australia, she grew up with an analog childhood and a digital adulthood. As a serial entrepreneur, Leesa has spent her life on the frontiers of DeepTech pioneering, digital transformation, and innovation. She has served over 400 multinationals and a global network of startups in 19 sectors across Europe, the Asia-Pacific, and the Americas.

Throughout her career, Leesa has been in Founder and CxO leadership roles. She has led companies from seed to USD 14B into new markets, pioneered deep technology, accelerated top lines before exits, and supported the raising of over USD200M in Seed to Series C investments. She has had one IPO, supported several successful exits, and learned from the hard knocks of lessons learned.

“Our vision is to be the inclusive investor scaling one billion dollars into companies thatcontribute to building a net-zero economy by 2033.”

Now, with an amazing team, she is building a global engine for sustainable development, levelling the playing field of capital for women and delivering returns – both financial and impact! R3i Group’s vision is to be the inclusive investor scaling one billion dollars into companies that contribute to building a net-zero economy by 2033.

R3i was initially founded in the United States and has a presence across 12 countries. The R3i Metaverse is its location, with its headquarters in Singapore.

R3i Capital LP is a deeptech venture capital firm investing globally in sustainable development, with a focus on climate adaptation and the transition to value-based healthcare. The House of MedTech and House of DeepTech is its deployment and portfolio platforms by which it efficiently sources, selects, and performs due diligence on deeptech deal flow for investment and delivers shared value services. R3i Ventures is a for-profit deeptech innovation ecosystem partner to Governments, Academia, and Corporations, providing an institutionalized acceleration pathway for commercialization, R&D, and capital for its founders. It provides access to foresight, co-investment, strategic procurement, and open innovation opportunities for its ecosystem. R3i Impact Foundation is the not-for-profit global foundation committed to closing the funding gap for deeptech pioneers with Proof of Concept and Proof of Value grants.

“Together we are building an equitable ecosystem for technology, entrepreneurship, and innovation that creates opportunities for outperformance on returns and tangible progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Leesa’s inspiration for starting R3i was to address the missing middle of capital for deeptech founders, defined by those companies with a patent or a data moat that were born from research. R3i provides inclusive technical assistance and funding essential to commercializing the world’s most disruptive climate and healthcare IPs.

The highlights of her journey include working with her amazing team of venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, research scientists, high-performance coaches, and Olympians, building R3i across gender, generations, classes, continents, and cultures for impact and returns. The challenges include navigating the opacity of the venture capital industry, its “cultural norms,” and the international funding landscape as a responsible investor. Leesa has several key skills that helped her on her entrepreneurial journey. These include a strong work ethic, persistence, adaptability, financial acumen, leadership, and networking.

“We provide inclusive technical assistance and funding, essential to commercialising the world’s most disruptive climate and healthcare IPs.”

As a female leader, Leesa learned the importance of celebrating one another and our achievements and developing a supportive global network of other women leaders. Studies have shown that women leaders who have a strong network of female colleagues and mentors are more likely to succeed in leadership roles. Leesa loves to watch movies with her husband, travel, try new restaurants, and spend time outdoors with her children to unplug from work. Leesa believes that making equality a priority is important because it leads to innovation, competitiveness, and growth. Women bring unique perspectives, skills, and talents to the table, making it essential to have more women in leadership roles.

Leesa was inspired by the stories of female role models such as Barbara Erskine, Annie Luu, Kelly Forbes, Gayatri Sarkar, Michelle Duval, Professor Marianne Winslett, Christina Lee, Sara Gori, and Shelly Porges. All courageous women, paving the pathways for women.

“Entrepreneurs must be able to adapt to new situations and challenges together with their teams and at speed.”

As a successful leader, Leesa has found several methods and ways that have helped her grow, which she believes can also benefit young women leaders. Seeking out mentors and role models can provide guidance and inspiration, as they have paved the way for others. Developing a growth mindset, viewing challenges and failures as opportunities for learning, can help build resilience and adaptability. Taking calculated risks and building a strong network of diverse peers and colleagues can help expand skills and build confidence. Seeking leadership opportunities, volunteering, and pursuing professional development can provide valuable experience. Finally, advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion can make a difference in workplaces and communities, creating positive change.

According to Leesa, in R3i Group’s talent pipeline, women hold various key roles across different departments. Some of the top positions are held by women, including the General Partner, CEO, and Chief Technical EIR. Additionally, women hold critical roles such as CFO and Chief Legal in the USA. Apart from these key positions, women are also represented in roles such as Venture Partners, Chief Brand and Community Architects, and Community Managers. These leaders play a vital role in driving the growth and success of our organizations. We recognize the importance of diversity and inclusivity in our talent pipeline and continuously strive to identify and promote the best talent regardless of gender, race, or ethnicity.

“Building strong relationships and a solid network of contacts is essential for entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and succeed in a global

R3i Group is committed to promoting gender equality and has put policies in place to achieve this. The company has partnered with Fingerprint for Success (F4S), a revolutionary People Analytics and Artificially Intelligent Coaching platform to provide data-driven talent sourcing and selection. It’s ai-driven Coach and its insights are used as a tool to improve the team’s performance and happiness at work, by measuring company-wide motivation to optimize its unique culture, team values, talent and collaboration. This data is also used in R3i Capital’s due diligence processes, to select and evaluate the human capital in its dealflow, highlighting the cohesiveness of a team, and whether the team are naturally motivated with the skills to build and exit a company valued at $6M-$1.2Bn or to scale a company ten years or more.

A long-term partnership with the Japanese virtual office company oVice delivers a global metaverse to keep its female founders, partners, researchers and portfolio companies safe in the context of public safety and global geopolitics. In addition, R3i has implemented a range of policies to support gender equality, including equal pay, flexible working arrangements, gender-neutral job descriptions, diversity training, leadership development programs for women, and anti-discrimination policies.

However, despite these policies, there are still significant challenges that women in leadership roles face. One of the biggest challenges is gender bias and discrimination, which can manifest in a variety of ways, including being excluded from decision-making processes and being held to different standards than their male counterparts. Another challenge is work-life balance, which can be particularly challenging for women in high-pressure, demanding roles. Limited representation is another major challenge, as women are often underrepresented in leadership roles across various industries and sectors, making it harder to find mentors, build networks, and access opportunities.

R3i Group’s current and future goals are to make a significant impact on climate adaptation and the transition to value-based care. As an organization, we believe in the power of innovation and collaboration to drive positive change in the world. For ambitious women looking to move their careers forward, we recommend believing in yourself and having confidence in your abilities. Building a strong network and continuously developing your skills are also crucial for success. Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself and pursue work that aligns with your values. Remember that moving your career forward is a journey that requires time, effort, and commitment. Stay focused on your goals, embrace challenges, and stay true to yourself.