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One consistent piece of advice that entrepreneurs give is to work toward something that you truly care about — to choose something you’re passionate about.
It is with this passion that Sophia Bush approaches her investments, her work and her life. You probably know Bush for her roles on One Tree Hill and Chicago P.D., but she’s also been making a name for herself in the entrepreneurial world. Her goal is to break barriers, particularly for young women who aren’t getting the opportunities that young men are.
“When you educate girls, invest in girls, you see changes to the entire community,” Bush said in a one-on-one with me at Collision conference. Ever since Bush earned attention as an actress, she has used her platform to champion feminism, along with plenty of other good causes.
But for her, educating young women isn’t just about giving girls equal opportunities; it’s also about making the world better. She isn’t wrong — there’s plenty of economic evidence to support this. The further educated women become, the more good they do for the world.
By encouraging women to continue their education, particularly by helping break barriers to get them into secondary education, Bush is helping to find a solution to the problems of today. Helping others reach their potential is important to Bush, and she knows her mentors played an important role in helping her become who she is today.
Being an activist.
Bush is best known as an actress, a part of her life that has always been important. Early on in her acting career, she began to shadow producer Greg Prange to learn more about the industry, how to succeed and what steps to take. Prange taught Bush about a lot more than just acting. She says that his mentorship helped her gain confidence as an actress and a person, and his guidance eventually led Bush to become a director on some projects.
While she has grown over the years, Bush has always seen herself as a feminist. She’s also taken the opportunity to use her position in the spotlight to draw attention to a number of issues. Notably, she played a role in the fundraiser Fuck Cancer, and she’s since championed human rights, environmentalism and more.
However, about eight years ago, Bush decided that she wanted to get into investing. Fortunately for her, she’s found an excellent mentor in serial investor Chris Sacca. Sacca’s knack for finding promising young startups and investing in them is well known, and Bush still comes to him with some of the investments she gets approached about today.
Activist turned entrepreneur.
Bush has had a long string of success with investments in startups, some of which are beginning to look like promising businesses. Perhaps the most accomplished of these startups is Omni. Bush describes Omni as a sort of physical DropBox, a place where you can store and share items. People can share Omni keys to open up boxes in different locations, facilitating the rental process and making storage cheaper and easier.
When it comes to choosing where to invest, Bush has a simple strategy: determine if the company is a life hack. Ask yourself, “is it solving and making more efficient an issue today.”
She also draws from her experience on screen. While working on Chicago P.D., Bush realized that the way police record information is inefficient. It’s often a mess of digital records and paper records, making it slow and cumbersome to look up information on someone. That’s why she chose to invest in Mark43, a startup that saves all records to a cloud that can be accessed by officers, speeding up the process of recording and looking up information.
Bush also has invested in Penpals Schools, a startup that connects children in the United States with other children around the world. Penpals Schools has Bush particularly excited because it allows children to communicate with other children in areas that aren’t on the best terms with the U.S., politically. This type of experience breeds a better understanding of cultures and empathetic intelligence.
Investing in the future.
Bush’s activism is a culmination of everything else she does. There are plenty of problems that plague the world, and she wants to find a solution to them. The approach is the same with investing, and her investing has gone on to help others.
Women’s education has been a particularly important cause for Bush. She’s been a big supporter of The Girl Project, a business that aims to break down the barriers of entry to secondary education for women. There’s no denying that women deserve better opportunities, especially when it comes to education. This problem is even worse in some areas of the world where women are discouraged from receiving a full, formal education.
To combat problems like world hunger, future energy needs and cures for diseases, people are going to need every resource at their disposal. The more women that receive secondary education, the sooner we solve those problems. Bush is vocal about her stance as a feminist and activist. In a lot of ways, she’s trying to provide strength and assistance to others — much like how her mentors aided and assisted her.
Equal education for women is important, but many wouldn’t expect an actress to champion the cause. But that’s exactly what Bush is doing as an investor, activist and mentor.