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Breaking the Mold in Private Equity with Kelly Ann Winget

Written by:

Mark Stewart is the in-house Certified Public Accountant, an accomplished author and financial media specialist.

Breaking the Mold in Private Equity with Kelly Ann Winget

In this interview, Kelly Ann Winget, the dynamic founder of Alternative Wealth Partners (AWP) based in Dallas, shares her unique perspective and experiences in the world of private equity. As a trailblazing LGBTQ+ female millennial, Kelly Ann leads AWP in managing investments across a diverse range of portfolio companies and private equity funds. Her innovative approach, which includes a focus on alternative assets and understanding the power of “Pink Money,” has significantly impacted the industry. Kelly Ann, a celebrated author and podcast host, offers a wealth of knowledge on investment strategies, challenges in the sector, and empowering women in finance. Join us as we delve into her journey, insights, and advice for those aspiring to make a mark in the world of private equity.

Kelly Ann Winget

Bio: Kelly Ann Winget is the founder of the Dallas-based private equity company Alternative Wealth Partners (AWP), managing investments across more than 25 portfolio companies in three private equity funds. She is the only LGBTQ+ female millennial to run a private equity fund focused on alternatives — assets outside of stocks, bonds, or cash, such as real estate, commodities, and private equity. One of her specialties is understanding the power of “Pink Money,” a term used to describe the $1.5 trillion spending power of the LGBTQ+ community. A nationally recognized trailblazer and visionary, Kelly Ann Winget has raised close to $1 billion in capital for startups, energy companies, manufacturing ventures, real estate, and other key emerging markets. With an emphasis on diversity, innovation, and collaborative partnerships, Kelly Ann Winget seeks to empower investors, companies, and local communities to thrive together. Dynamic, informed, and engaging, Kelly Ann Winget is the author of the tremendously popular book, Pitch the Bitch, which walks through the female experience in the investment world on both sides of the financial transaction, to help women understand why the investment wealth gap exists and how to close it. She is also host of The Wealth Alpha podcast, educating individuals on wealth-building techniques and investors on what’s coming next.

Inspiration Behind Alternative Wealth Partners

SBS – What inspired you to start Alternative Wealth Partners and focus on alternative investments? 

Kelly Ann – I have always been a contrarian and entrepreneur, which is a natural path to alternatives. Alternatives are everything outside of stocks, bonds, and cash. Privately owned businesses, real estate, energy (oil and renewables), start-up ventures, etc. are all things that require true creativity and grit to succeed. I think the challenge behind recognizing an opportunity, and then knowing how to scale it is why alts are so interesting. I started my firm because I was sitting in the background watching the wrong people poorly manage money while delivering terrible returns to the investors and blaming “the market.” I wanted to give returns, insight, and control back to the investor. Alternative Wealth Partners gives the individual the investment experience that disappears when you dump money into the Vanguards of the world. 

Understanding the Impact of Pink Money

SBS – Can you explain the concept of “Pink Money” and how it influences your investment strategies? 

Kelly Ann – “Pink Money” is the term used to describe the $1.5 trillion spending power of the LGBTQIA+ community. With this level of wealth, every company across every industry and investor group should be paying attention because this purchasing power will only grow over time. In fact, one major study has shown that states with large gay communities have a larger economic growth, so it doesn’t make sense for companies to ignore the LGBTQ+ community if they want to prosper in the coming years. I believe that my identity helps build unique investment strategies that would otherwise be overlooked. I provide a completely different perspective because of my lived experience, probably more as a woman than a queer person, but the empathy I have for certain opportunities is shared amongst my queer colleagues.

Overcoming Challenges as an LGBTQ+ Female Millennial

SBS – What challenges have you faced as an LGBTQ+ female millennial in the private equity sector, and how did you overcome them?

Kelly Ann – Surprisingly, I don’t have a lot of push back but I know not everyone is open-minded about working with someone in the LGBTQ+ community. But more than that, the biggest hurdles I have faced are around my gender and age. This is really unfortunate because when the stewards of our money have biases, they cause us to lose in earning returns because of a belief their own clients may not even share. Even though I have as much, or more experience than another emerging manager who happens to be male, I have to prove a more impressive track record. I receive comments about how I couldn’t have accomplished what I have by my age. I typically push back on those remarks with “Where were you in your career or business at 35?” and they usually proudly respond with “At the height of my game,” and then we sit and smile at each other.

Approach to Identifying Investment Opportunities

SBS – How do you identify and assess potential startups and companies for investment?

Kelly Ann – I can’t give away all my secrets, but typically I look at the geopolitical landscape, identify potential market gaps and opportunities then research and source investment opportunities in those spaces. I will start with diverse leaders and work my way back. If there is an opportunity to buy a company that holds a significant place in the industry, but it has a very “vanilla” executive team, I will explore changing up the team to have more effective representation. Or, I make the business diverse myself. An example is an ammo company. The industry is made up of the same type of individuals so just by being the majority owner, I am now the only female (and queer) owned ammo manufacturer in the world, which is unexpected. There are a lot of industries with similar make ups. We also hold an interest in the only woman-owned battery company, metal forging, and several other typically, male-dominated companies. While it’s tough being an “only” or “first,” someone has to do it — so it may as well be me!

Kelly Ann Winget

Strategies for Raising Capital

SBS – What strategies have you used to successfully raise close to $1 billion in capital? 

Kelly Ann – Listening. I listen to investors and understand their wants, needs, fears, dreams, goals, etc. There is a lot that goes into making investment decisions, which is why most people have someone else do it for them. I listen to investors that most money managers overlook. I will talk to a carpet cleaning business owner on the phone after having my carpets cleaned because I know that eventually, they will want to sell that business or pass it along. Those businesses can generate $1M+ annually and sell for a few million dollars. Taking the time to talk about someone’s dreams when they aren’t working for other people or in their own business is the easiest way to quickly build trust. I play the long game; you may not be my client today, but because I provided value without any expectation, when it comes time to choose where to put some of your money, you think of me.

Highlighting a Successful Investment

SBS – Can you share an example of a particularly successful or innovative investment you made? 

Kelly Ann – Asking to pick a favorite portfolio company is like asking which child is your favorite. I have done some really interesting deals in my career, but I really like the portfolio I’ve built over the last four years. I have a couple of deals that I am very proud of. One in particular is Dapper Boi, a gender-neutral lifestyle brand that is truly changing how people feel in their clothes. While SharkTank said “no,” AWP said “yes” and now Dapper Boi is everywhere. As more millennials and Gen Zs are more intentional about what they wear, having a brand that aligns with people in more ways than just fitting well, is going to put fast fashion out of style (pun intended). Plus, Dapper Boi shirts are so soft and their jeans fit great. In addition to being a clothing brand, they are working on some proprietary technology to make the industry more inclusive, because ultimately that is what we all want — a shopping experience that doesn’t make us feel unsafe, uncomfortable, or inaccessible.

Balancing Risk and Innovation in Investments

SBS – How do you balance risk and innovation in your investment decisions? 

Kelly Ann – Diversification is at the core of our strategy. I believe that if you have enough diversification you can mitigate most risks. Alternatives, in general, give investors diversification from the public markets, hedging against big market swings because the assets are typically non-correlated and have relative risks to their geographical location, unless we are talking about commodities. Investing has historically been so segregated that it keeps returns stagnant. We take a holistic approach to our investments, aligning purpose with profit by blending asset classes that find strength within each other. 

Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in Portfolio Companies

SBS – What is your approach to fostering diversity and inclusion within your portfolio companies? 

Kelly Ann – I start with sourcing diverse lead companies. If there isn’t a lot of diversity at the decision-making table then I typically assert myself into those spaces. I am vocal about the necessity of representation at all levels, especially in the investment world. If there isn’t a variety of minds behind the investment decision, real world solutions don’t get funding and problems don’t get solved.

Key Takeaways from ‘Pitch the Bitch’

SBS – In your book Pitch the Bitch, what are the key takeaways for women looking to close the investment wealth gap? 

Kelly Ann – Take ownership of the process. Stop being passive about your money/wealth journey. The phrase “I just let my husband do it, or my advisor handles all of that,” will burn more cash than you know. It isn’t very complicated and having even a little bit of ownership around where your money is, what it is doing, and what you want it to be doing, can change your whole status. There is one big difference between “regular people” and your ultra-high net worth individuals, which is how much you care about your money and how many people you can help with that wealth. The wealthy are thoughtful about how they structure their money, who they give it to, and why. The most important thing you can do is care and take action.

Future of Private Equity and Alternative Assets

SBS – How do you see the future of private equity evolving, particularly in terms of alternative assets? 

Kelly Ann – I hope it continues to become more inclusive. I hope to see more women and BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ graduate from venture capital into private equity. I hope investors continue to educate themselves about these opportunities and start to demand access from their advisors, and I hope that regulations evolve to include more access to more people. The biggest hurdles in alternatives are all the barriers of entry, such as investment minimums and net worth requirements, plus gate-kept information.

Advice for Aspiring Private Equity Professionals

SBS – What advice would you give to someone looking to start a career in private equity? 

Kelly Ann – Don’t be afraid to step outside of the box and develop your own, unique investment thesis. There is so much “copy-paste” in the industry because being different is looked at as “risky” or “too innovative.” Alpha is achieved when you go against the grain and find opportunities that everyone else overlooks.

Importance of Collaborative Partnerships

SBS – Can you discuss the importance of collaborative partnerships in business? 

Kelly Ann – This is the best part about being a woman in this business! We are collaborative. Deal sharing, due diligence help, talent searches, etc. are so much better when we all work as if we are on the same team. We don’t compete because each of us does very different things. My expertise can benefit someone else’s portfolio company, while someone else’s CFO can help mine. It is instrumental in our success as investment managers.

Wealth-Building Techniques from The Wealth Alpha Podcast

SBS – On your podcast, The Wealth Alpha, what are some wealth-building techniques that you frequently recommend? 

Kelly Ann – Free thought. My podcast simply opens the listeners’ minds to investment concepts that are typically kept behind closed doors. Family Offices have teams of people doing this work on behalf of the wealthy family, and through my media channels, my podcast and book, I give investors that insight without requiring massive pockets of wealth.


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Breaking the Mold in Private Equity with Kelly Ann Winget