Inspirefest

Claire Lee

Head of early-stage banking, Silicon Valley Bank

Claire Lee is managing director of early-stage banking at Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), a group dedicated to working with founders, entrepreneurs and pre-Series A companies. Her team is also responsible for strategic partnerships – engaging with leading global incubators, industry groups and investors that support founders at the early stage.

Silicon Valley Bank works with more than 50pc of the venture capital-backed companies in the US and increasingly has a global focus (with offices in the UK, China, Israel and Ireland as well as partnerships in Australia, Turkey, Latin America and western Europe).

Claire joined SVB in January 2014, after spending almost a decade at Microsoft. She was part of the team that launched Microsoft Ventures in 2013. As a principal in the seed fund, she was evaluating and investing in early-stage start-ups. She was also part of the team that created Microsoft BizSpark in 2008, with 50,000 start-ups and 2,000 global partners.

Outside of running the early-stage practice at SVB, and a team of more than 30 people, Claire is an active adviser, mentor and board member. She often speaks on the topics of international development, entrepreneurship, seed-stage investment and education. She has visited more than 60 countries and lived or worked in 10 of these. She is a recognised advocate and spokesperson for advancing efforts around equality, diversity and inclusion, advancing women and girls in industry. Claire is also the founder of League of Extraordinary Women, which convenes high-profile female funders and founders.

For more than five years, Claire was an adviser to the US Department of State during Secretary Clinton and Secretary Kerry’s tenure, and was closely involved with White House initiatives under the Obama administration. She was personally honoured by former president Barack Obama in June 2016 for her efforts with the Global Entrepreneurship Summit and her contribution to entrepreneurship.

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