Whitney Johns Martin is Co-Founder, Co-Chairwoman and Managing Director of Texas Women Ventures, a Dallas, Texas based family of investment funds dedicated to investing in women led and managed businesses in Texas and across the Greater Southwestern United States.
From TWV’s inception, Whitney has been instrumental in the evolution of the concept of the firm, its mission and its funds. From 2005 through 2010, Whitney served as the firm’s Managing Member and the sole manager of the initial funds. Her areas of responsibility included fundraising, marketing, business development, investment analysis, portfolio management, legal and risk management, financial reporting, investor relations and firm and fund administration. In growing TWV, Whitney has brought together a seasoned management team to manage TWV and its funds. Whitney currently serves as a member of TWV’s Investment Committee and is a Charter Investor in each of TWV’s funds.
Whitney has served as an advocate for women entrepreneurial issues for two decades, including visiting Capitol Hill each year for most of the 1990’s. She’s met with many distinguished leaders including U.S. Presidents, Senators and former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. Whitney met privately with President Clinton during his presidency to discuss her role in providing capital to women. She has also attended several Rose Garden ceremonies and White House briefings by Presidents Clinton and Bush and numerous Cabinet members.
In 2008, Whitney received recognition as one of the “Most Influential Women in Business in Dallas” in the inaugural award selection by the Dallas Business Journal. Whitney received the SBA’s 1998 Southeastern Advocate of the Year award; received a Presidential appointment as a delegate to the 1995 White House Conference on Small Business; and testified before the U.S. Senate on several occasions on the topic of access to capital for women. She was a U.S. finalist for the Woman Entrepreneur of the World award presented for the small business category at the 1996 FCEM World Congress in Los Angeles and was recognized in 2001 as the Distinguished Graduate from the University of Tennessee’s College of Law.
From the late 1990s through the 2000s, Whitney was a prolific keynote speaker, reaching thousands of audience members all across the United States, along with several cities in Japan and Puerto Rico. Speaking engagements often centered around her role as National Association of Women Business Owners (“NAWBO”) President, as an authority on access to capital, on her role with the Federal Reserve Bank or on women leadership issues. Two Governors have recognized her for her excellence (California and Tennessee), several mayors have presented Whitney the “Key” to their cities, and she has several legislative proclamations honoring her work for women entrepreneurs (Texas, Kentucky and Ohio).
In 1998, Whitney created the first Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) to focus on women-led companies, the first in the 40-year history the program. She built a world-class Board of Directors including leaders like the founder and owner of the Build a Bear® retail stores and President and CEO of National Financial®, Fidelity’s clearing subsidiary. That fund and its co-investor partners invested over $50 million in women-led companies. Additionally, the fund was a source of pride for its investors, which included institutional investors Bank of America, Bank One and Wachovia, for its ground-breaking success in changing the landscape of the investment world. The fund earned distinction as the SBIC “Portfolio Company of the Year” and in 2000 was recognized during a ceremony with the U.S. Senate by the Milken Institute as a national “Best Practice” for access to growth capital for women.
Following the management of a 1998 vintage-year SBIC fund, Whitney helped form the concept of TWV as an evolution of how to tap into the market of investment in women-led businesses and how to do it profitably. TWV has not only been successful in delivering on the promise to invest in women-led companies (100% of the dollars going to the target market) but has, to date, been successful financially for its investors. In spite of fundraising during difficult venture capital markets, the TWV funds have secured investments from several prominent institutional investors, along with over 50 individual investors that bring talent and expertise to TWV and who serve on TWV’s Portfolio Advisory Board. In 2006, its first full year of investing, TWV was recognized by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation as a promising practice for supplying patient capital to women entrepreneurs.
Prior to entering venture capital, Whitney founded a mergers & acquisitions (M&A) consulting business in 1984. Prior to selling the company, it had successfully completed hundreds of appraisals and consulting assignments, including numerous acquisitions and dispositions. Over the course of her career, Whitney has gained skills in corporate governance, corporate taxation and M&A and served as a practicing attorney with Leckrone & Holton, P.C. in the early 1980s.
Whitney has served on over twenty private company boards and/or advisory boards in her career. She has been, and continues to be, a business coach and / or mentor to many women business owners. In addition, she was three-time Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Nashville branch (Greenspan appointee); member of the National Women’s Business Council (SBA Administrator appointee); past national President of NAWBO (elected); and past member of the board for the National Foundation for Women Business Owners (now called the Center for Women’s Business Research). She also served on Wyndham Hotel’s and Club Corp’s Women’s Advisory Boards, on Belmont University’s Center for Entrepreneurship Advisory Board and on The University of Tennessee’s College of Law Advisory Board. She was a founding board member of the Women’s Foundation in Nashville, Tennessee and is a member of the Juliette Low Leadership Society for the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas.
Whitney has been profiled or interviewed for numerous national news media including NBC Nightly News, CNBC, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, along with INC., Fortune, Business Week, Entrepreneur and Private Clubs magazines. Her articles have been published in magazines such as the Federal Reserve Bank’s Marketwise and Competitive Edge. She was profiled in a special advertising section for Jaguar and published in Inc. magazine called “Making It to the Top.” Her photo has been on the cover of Women’s Enterprise Texas, Tennessee Law, and Nashville Woman magazines and she has had numerous stories on her career and her companies over the years in local press.
Whitney received her BS in Business Administration with highest honors from the University of Tennessee (emphasis accounting and economics) and graduated with honors from the University of Tennessee’s College of Law. She has lectured as a guest instructor at University of Tennessee’s College of Law, University of Tennessee’s MBA program, Vanderbilt’s Owen School of Business (MBA), and the University of Tennessee’s undergraduate business school. Whitney resides in Irving, Texas with her husband Charles Martin.