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Friday Forum

headshot of a blond woman smiling
Friday, Feb. 15
11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

VCU Brandcenter Lecture Hall
103 S. Jefferson St.

Val Middleton

Partner, West Venture Studio

Topic: Why an investor mindset matters for brand transformation - a chat with Val Middleton, Partner of West Venture Studio


Val is a founding partner of San Francisco based West Venture Studio that specializes in the end-to-end process of designing, building and launching purpose driven brands. As both an operator and an investor, she has worked alongside over 50 founders and their teams to execute client centered brand transformation and build and execute go-to-market strategies. Her experience with so many of the entrepreneurs she has worked with was that their focus was fully on creating their product or service, and while technically brilliant, they were missing the broader context of their customers, markets and cultural environment. The data shows this is a reason so many venture backed companies fail, and that’s why West was created. During her tenure, she has partnered with some of the world’s most innovative companies including Impossible Foods, GoFundMe, Braintree/Paypal,, Chegg and Prelude Fertility to create and define new markets and achieve the holy grail of product x market fit.

In the early years of West she was focused on building the production and operational strategy team, tasked with mobilizing content, digital, experiential and design from concept to delivery. During this time she fostered a broad network creators, researchers, media specialists, PR teams, writers and product teams to activate ambitious growth initiatives.

Her formative years were spent in advertising at the Martin Agency, where she produced work for national brands including BFGoodrich, Hanes, Walmart, Discover Card and was the mainstay producer on GEICO launching the beloved cavemen and gecko campaigns which are still a brand staple a decade later. During her tenure Business Insider named her on the 30-Under-30 list of most creative people in advertising. Prior to Martin she specialized in independent feature production and commercial casting in the Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and Virginia areas.

She holds a BFA in Film from Syracuse University. She is a mother of 3 and a vocal advocate for diversity inclusion and supporting the balance of career and family in the workplace. She also mentors entrepreneurs through the non-profit Endeavor Global.