“Where’s your cash register? I don’t hear the cash register ringing.” Cynthia Fisher (MBA 1990) still recalls the first words her father, a small-town accountant, uttered when he visited ViaCord’s startup offices in 1993. “That was his way of saying we had to make money.”
ViaCord—a service that enabled parents to store their newborn’s umbilical cord blood as a source of stem cells—was her first foray into entrepreneurship. Fisher’s father, however, was reminding her that good intentions need solid financial underpinnings to be of real help. She heeded his words, growing ViaCord’s reach—and value—and ultimately sold it for $300 million.
That financial success gave Fisher the philanthropic freedom to back other ideas that could solve some of mankind’s serious challenges.
“I am passionately engaged in mission-driven enterprises that make a significant difference in people’s lives,” she says.
One was Fisher’s 2011 launch of WaterRev, an investment company focusing on technologies for sustainable water-use practices. Another idea, currently in early pilot testing, is FitMoney, a nonprofit K–12 financial literacy program that aims to turn savvy kids into responsible adults. She still finds time to serve on boards—including at her husband’s beverage company—and oversee another startup in health care.
Fisher jokes that her career has been about “liquid assets”—blood, water, and beer—but she says the common thread is the importance of teamwork across the enterprise.
“When the team pulls together, and everybody is at their best, there’s nothing like it,” she says. “When it’s done well, and done right—wow!”
(Published April 2017)
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