Leslie Feinzaig was born and raised in San Jose, Costa Rica, where her family — and her heart — still live to this day. She’s the granddaughter of Holocaust refugees who were refused entry into the U.S. in the 1930’s. Through generations, her family leaned on entrepreneurship, hard work and education to settle into their new home — values that, until recently, were mostly reserved for the males in the family.
After attending a British school in Costa Rica through elementary and high school, Leslie was fortunate to be admitted to the London School of Economics, where she learned about economics, sociology, business and labor relations, and graduated with honors. Her senior thesis was entitled “Women’s Preference, Women’s Choice: An Analysis of the Forces Behind Gender Inequality at Work.”
Having failed to secure a visa to work abroad, in the midst of the dot-com bust and the aftermath of 9/11, Leslie returned home. Her first job — outside of working for the family business — was as an analyst at Procter & Gamble. Even at this renowned multinational company, her first paycheck was well below Costa Rica’s minimum taxable income. In the years that followed, despite earning promotions and awards, that paycheck never got much higher.
In 2005, Leslie was admitted to Harvard Business School and awarded a full scholarship from that institution. The opportunity and experience were life-changing. Following graduation, she joined HBS Professor and Innovator’s Dilemma author Clayton Christensen at his consulting firm, Innosight, were she advised clients on innovation and growth strategy. She later held product leadership roles at Microsoft’s Online Services and Xbox divisions.
After securing permanent residency in the U.S. — and with it, the ability to switch jobs and join smaller companies — Leslie moved into tech startups. She led product management and marketing at Big Fish Games, going into their $1 billion acquisition. She then joined Julep Beauty, an Andreessen-Horowitz backed ecommerce startup, leading product management, front-end engineering, and digital marketing. She left Julep in 2015 to start her own company.
The following year, when her daughter was 6 months old, Leslie launched Venture Kits — games that develop leadership skills through play. Her one-of-a-kind, inspirational concept quickly garnered critical acclaim and customer love. The experience of raising capital for this company, coupled with the realization that only two percent of venture capital is invested in female founders in the US, propelled Leslie to start the Female Founders Alliance in 2017.
Today, Leslie leads FFA full time, dedicated to her personal mission of creating a more just world for her daughter. She was named one of Forbes Magazine’s 100 Most Powerful Women from Central America & the Caribbean, Seattle Magazine’s Most Influential People, and Puget Sound Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. She’s a frequent speaker at events like TEDx Pura Vida, SXSW Interactive, Geekwire Summit, NW Angel Capital Conference, Seattle Magazine’s Daring Women, and more. Her writing has been featured in publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur, and AllthingsD. She lives in Seattle, Wash. with her husband and 3-year old daughter.