Catherine Hoke

Founder, CEO, Defy Ventures

Raised as a French Canadian immigrant, Catherine Hoke made her entrepreneurial debut at age 8, when she locked down the Davis, California hamster breeding market, selling her baby hamsters to the pet shop for a $1 a piece. She later became the first girl on the Davis High School boys' wrestling team. It was on the wrestling mat that she developed a noteworthy endurance for humiliation (to this day, she owns the school’s record for getting pinned the fastest and the most in her first year). Her bruises and losses prepared her to come alongside others who need to be “scraped off the mat,” shined up, and put back in the fight. Catherine left behind a career in venture capital and private equity to pursue her calling and founding Defy Ventures, which helps people with criminal histories develop entrepreneurial careers. She is driven by her love for God, hatred for injustice, and belief in the underdog.