Sara Batterby, co-founder of HiFi Farms and founder of the Equity Capital Collective, passed away unexpectedly earlier this week. She was 49 years old.
Born in Gloucestershire in the United Kingdom, Batterby got her career start in management consulting with Accenture; she then moved to the United States to begin a position with American Express. Years later, Batterby made the move to the Bay Area and Silicon Valley to work in the startup community. She worked for companies such as iCiX and Good Citizen Brands, and also founded her first business, Ethix Merchant Services.
After leaving Silicon Valley, Batterby relocated to Portland, Oregon in 2014. There, she worked with Elemeno Ventures and built the first, data-backed portfolio strategy for investing in diverse startup founders.
“I quickly realized that if we eliminated bias and used an evidence based approach to distributing capital, we would automatically find ourselves funding a much greater percentage of female and POC entrepreneurs than typically get awarded venture capital,” she said in 2018.
While in Oregon, she embarked on a journey that helped solidify her place in the state’s entrepreneurial world and furthered her goals of helping underrepresented entrepreneurs of different backgrounds.
Entering the World of Cannabis
After moving to Oregon, Batterby became part of the founding team of HiFi Farms in 2014. The company is a Clean Green Certified, craft cannabis cultivation operation built on the principles of quality, community, craft and sustainability.
In her time as president and CEO, she managed to lead the company to a prominent position in the cannabis industry, also speaking at several cannabis business events to help build the company’s brand identity as progressive and savvy; additionally, helped raise $2.8 million for one of its seed rounds in a three-month period.
In 2015, Batterby founded the Portland Chapter of Women Grow after realizing the number of opportunities available for women in cannabis.
“One thing that’s really important to me in coming into the cannabis industry is recognizing and realizing the opportunity to do that a little differently and create an equal playing field for women in this business,” she said to HuffPost in 2015.
Coaching Diverse Communities Through EqCo
In 2017, she stepped down from her position at HiFi Farms to bring the Equity Capital Collective (EqCo) to life. Launching in 2018, EqCo offers consulting and training to early and growth-stage startup founders. Batterby outlined the collective’s mission and philosophy in a 2019 interview with the Portland Business Journal.
“Our mission is to enable and empower entrepreneurs who have been excluded from access to networks and resources, such as women, people of color and LGBTQIA communities. We’re insisting on a more equitable landscape of opportunity for a greater diversity of founders. Through our systematic methodology, we teach critical skills and insights while addressing the fundamental internal barriers associated with a diminished experience of worthiness and entitlement.”
From then on, she continued working with founders and entrepreneurs from these communities; she helping them achieve a number of skills through a comprehensive curriculum she created, as well as her Capital Masterclass.
In a statement, her family described Batterby’s heart as one that beated “harder for purpose and justice and at the heart of that was an anger at injustice.”
“Injustice would always fuel her. The injustice of capital unevenly distributed. The injustice of a legal system that criminalized cannabis. She used her brain to figure out ways to beat the system or change the system. She used her charisma to convince people to join her. And she made it happen through pure perseverance, determination and stubbornness,” her family added.
Click here to view Batterby’s obituary.