NutraWomen Wednesday: Sofia Elizondo, co-founder and COO, Brightseed

This content item was originally published on, a William Reed online publication.

By Danielle Masterson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags nutrawomen wednesday Brightseed bioactives Artificial intelligence

Raised on Flintstone Vitamins, Sofia Elizondo predicts that future generations will grow up with vitamins, minerals and bioactives.

The seasoned biotech entrepreneur has helped build multimillion-dollar companies and brands in the consumer goods, pharmaceutical and technology industries. Elizondo is the co-founder and COO of Brightseed, an AI company that discovers bioactive molecules for health and makes proactive, precision health a reality by using pioneering advancements in machine learning to identify bioactive molecules in nature.

“Brightseed was born because we knew that plants were full of these natural compounds that could have a benefit for health. They are the sources of two-thirds of small molecule drugs, and they are the sources of everyday bioactives that we consume and benefit from, like caffeine in your tea or coffee. But they're widely unknown. So we created a platform called Forager that is fueled by artificial intelligence so that we can use that visibility to see the natural compounds out in plants and then natural sources and to predict which ones actually have a health impact,” explained Elizondo, who cofounded Brightseed with Lee Chae, PhD and Jim Flatt, PhD.

The trio has been really successful fundraising. To date, Brightseed has raised over 120 million from investors.

“Unfortunately, the statistics are really dire for women fundraising. Last year companies that were founded by women, solely women, only received 2% of venture capital funding. And according to research done by BCG, (the consulting company I used to work with) for every dollar that women receive as investment versus men—although they receive less funding when they do raise—they generate twice as much revenue. So it's a really sound bet to invest in women,” said Elizondo, adding that she hopes to see more capital in the hands of women investors so that those natural networks can start to fuel their portfolio companies.

Elizondo said that while she doesn’t know what funding would have looked like without her male counterparts, she appreciates all the different skill sets they bring to the table.

“Personally, you know, I've benefited from working with two amazing co-founders," she added. "Jim, Lee and I are actually pretty different. I mean, obviously, we have a gender difference, but we have very different backgrounds and experiences.

"We have different perspectives. We have different ways of working, different personalities. We're also a couple different generations, and we are three ethnicities. We bring a really diverse way of thinking and problem solving to the table from day one. So I think what really makes this founding trio powerful is that we're very passionate about what we're doing, and we are really prepared to go out and build the technology, translate it to commercial success and then scale it.”

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