Meet Sue Harnett, Angel Investor and COO of Juntos
Sue Harnett is a former C-suite executive in banking and insurance, with over 30 years of experience growing and managing finance businesses. She joined Juntos in 2016 as our first investor, and she has been closely involved in growing the company ever since. Recently, she sat down with us to talk about how she got involved, what she brings to the table, and what she sees in our future.
How did you first hear about Juntos, and what made you want to get involved?
After I retired from banking, I wanted to use my time and money to support young entrepreneurs. I started working with fintech startups in 2015, but I was also looking to diversify my investment portfolio and do something different from what I had always done. I had a conversation with a consultant who knew Mauricio, and the concept of Juntos intrigued me. I’ve always been a shoe freak—I’m very short (just under 5’ 2”), so I have a huge collection of heels. The idea of a sustainable shoe caught my attention, so I agreed to meet with Mauricio and Andy.
We met for the first time at the Soho Playhouse in New York City, and I’ll admit, I went in skeptical. By nature I’m a cynical person, and despite my curiosity, I assumed it would be a waste of time. But I was immediately impressed by the branding work and the commitment to sustainability.
I also liked the way Mauricio and Andy played off each other. Mauricio is measured and thoughtful, while Andy is direct and efficient. They shared a vision for the brand, but they each focused on different aspects of it in a complementary way. It was clear that they each brought something unique and valuable to the company.
They had brought a couple pairs of prototype shoes to the meeting, and I could see immediately that they needed work—and I liked that. I liked being able to start with them from the very beginning, so I could really add value and help shape the product. I felt I could contribute and help the company grow.
Beyond your title, what’s your role on the Juntos team? What do you bring to the table?
I had a long career working for large companies in highly regulated industries, so my instinct is to bring rigor and stability into everything we do. I’ve done a lot to build the business infrastructure, craft solid contracts, and put reliable processes in place. In general, I’m always looking to define what’s most important, what’s the next step, and how do we get to the finish line.
I’m also a great recruiter—I’ve done a lot of work building teams in my career. I’ve brought other people into Juntos who have really helped us move forward.
What do you love most about working with Juntos so far?
I really adore the finished product! The shoe looks great, and everyone raves about how comfortable they are. I have lots of ideas about colors and designs for the future, as well as ways we can continue to improve on our commitment to sustainability.
What is one lesson you've learned from this experience so far?
I move fast, and Mauricio is the opposite—very thoughtful and methodical. We’ve had to learn to find the balance between those two tendencies, which is a good thing, because somewhere in the middle of those two extremes is usually the right place to be.
What are you most excited for in the coming year with Juntos?
We’ll be executing a large-scale launch campaign in the next few months, and I’m excited to have a whole cadre of happy customers. Having people advocate for your product is the best thing. I’m proud of the fact that we have a small number of very striking products, and I think we’ll make a big impression quickly.
Outside of Juntos, what else keeps you busy?
I’m a partner in a women-led venture fund, and I also serve on the board of directors for three publicly traded companies and one startup, which just raised $10 million. I also have four grandkids, so of course I spend a lot of time spoiling them.