F&M Stories

Closing the Gender Gap in Finance

A pair of Franklin & Marshall College graduates are working together to make investments more accessible for female entrepreneurs. 

Kriti Krishna '18 is an investor at HearstLab, a venture fund that provides cash investment and support services to early-stage, women-led startups.

She is joined by Lia Tavarez '20, who recently joined HearstLab as community manager.

We’re here to be a resource to women entrepreneurs and give them a fair shot at raising capital and building huge companies,” Krishna said.

HearstLab operates under the umbrella of Hearst Corporation, a conglomerate of more than 360 businesses in the media, healthcare, transport, real estate and financial services industries.

While the two alumnae first met as undergraduates, they took distinctly different paths to Hearst’s Manhattan headquarters.

See their stories below.

"My F&M education really helps me analyze a business or market from multiple perspectives and ask pointed questions about the path to growth."

Kriti Krishna '18

Kriti Krishna '18

  • Investor, HearstLab

  • Hometown: Cupertino, Calif.

  • Current city: New York City

  • Major: Business, organizations & society, environmental science (joint major) 

Krishna unexpectedly fell in love with finance after a summer 2017 internship at Fitch Group, a global leader in financial information services owned by Hearst.

“It was the first time I was exposed to the finance world. I originally wanted to go to law school, but I really enjoyed the macroeconomic research and financial modeling components of the internship,” she said. 

Krishna returned to Fitch full-time after graduating and later joined HearstLab in summer 2022.

“Women receive about 2% of all venture capital funding, despite women-founded companies exiting at a faster rate and at higher valuations,” Krishna explained.

“Our mission is to shift that narrative and deploy more capital to women. In addition to giving female founders the financial backing to build their companies, we also support our founders in marketing and branding, UI/UX, software engineering, business development, fundraising and legal,” she said. 

Krishna credits her liberal arts education for her seamless transition to finance.

“You have to think through every aspect of a business and hypothesize what its growth potential is, then articulate that in writing. My F&M education really helps me analyze a business or market from multiple perspectives and ask pointed questions about the path to growth,” she said. 

Kriti’s career advice: “Look for a team that matches your values. When you’re going through the interview process, pay attention to the team members: ‘Are these the people I want to sit next to every day?’ Finding a place where you feel like you'll be supported – and the people around you want you to succeed – is definitely important.”

"That’s the best thing about a liberal arts education. It can literally take you anywhere."

Lia Tavarez '20
Lia Tavarez '20

  • Community manager, HearstLab

  • Hometown: New York City

  • Current city: New York City

  • Major: Government

  • Minor: Area studies (Arabic language)

Tavarez’s post-college path took her as far as the Amazon rainforest before returning to her New York City roots. 

Tavarez first dipped her toes in the startup world as a program associate at Robin Hood Foundation, New York’s largest local poverty-fighting philanthropy. There, she worked with Blue Ridge Labs to build tech-based, community-driven solutions.

In 2022, she was awarded a Fulbright Research grant to continue an honors thesis investigation on the impacts of tourism on indigenous communities in Southern Peru.

“Throughout my research, I was exposed to female entrepreneurs in Peru’s tourism ecosystem. Coming back to the States, I was eager to return to the world of startups and entrepreneurship but wanted to devote myself to supporting female founders, especially considering the gap there is in funding for female-led startups,” Tavarez said. 

Now, Tavarez supports female founders working at Hearst headquarters. A large part of her role as community manager is bringing visibility to HearstLab and uniting different stakeholders to celebrate and support female entrepreneurship.

Tavarez is quick to credit F&M for a solid footing in the startup world. 

“Franklin and Marshall’s holistic education style is something that I'm always going back to. The different fields that I was able to touch upon while studying at F&M have prepared me well for the different phases of my career,” said Tavarez, a first-generation college student. 

“That’s the best thing about a liberal arts education. It can literally take you anywhere. You're not tied to a specific career or role,” she said. 

Lia’s career advice: “I have been in this role for only three months, but it has been an incredible experience to join a team and community that is so aligned with its mission and eager to support female founders and each other. There is tremendous strength in finding your community in the workplace. Throughout my various work experiences, I have always sought out mentors and peers who share my passions. My advice is to lean on your community and available resources, and put yourself out there, because finding your people can make all the difference.”

Related Articles

February 20, 2024

Record Number of Fulbrights Earns F&M a Top Producer Spot

For the seventh consecutive year, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program has named F&M a top-producing institution. Eleven recent graduates were awarded Fulbright fellowships in 2023, the highest number in F&M history.

February 14, 2024

Class of '89 Couple Finds Vibrant Community in Lancaster

When Claudia Mandarano Pace and Peter Pace ’89, P’20, P’22 graduated from Franklin & Marshall, they never would have imagined that their lives would bring them back to Lancaster years later, but that’s exactly what happened.

February 7, 2024

'A Perfect Match': Alumni Eye Surgeon on Returning to Lancaster

After graduating from Franklin & Marshall, Wenxin Wei ‘02 found himself on the other side of the country, studying a new form of eye surgery in California. Now, he’s back in Lancaster, helping legally blind patients see again.