Mary Lemmer


Mary helps some of the largest and fastest growing companies and their leaders to innovate and solve critical business challenges. She does this using a fun, engaging, and effective improv comedy methodology she developed and discusses in her TED talk “How improv can improve your leadership and life.” Mary cares about social impact and empowering others to do what they can to use their skills and resources to give back. She was instrumental in creating the philanthropic fund, Schox Philanthropy, that helps entrepreneurs make contributions to good causes they care about. As an entrepreneur, recovering venture capitalist, and improv comedian, Mary has worked with tens of thousands of leaders and thousands of companies. She started her first company, Iorio Gelato, at age 14, did early stage VC, was a Director at a Silicon Valley unicorn, wrote Straight From the Investor's Mouth: 111 Pieces of Advice for Entrepreneurs, She started doing improv comedy to help her as an entrepreneurial leader with loads of anxiety. She developed the IMPROVE methodology over the course of a decade as an entrepreneur, investor, executive at fast growing companies, and training as an improv comedian at The Second City in Chicago, The Upright Citizens Brigade in NYC, among other improv theatres, alongside current and future famous improv comedians. She created the IMPROVE methodology inspired by improv comedy, business frameworks, and other research-backed techniques to teach effectiveness and leadership skills and works with entrepreneurs and small startups to Fortune 500 companies and top universities, including Lyft, TED, KPMG, the University of Michigan, Fordham University, Square, Patreon, TechStars, CBSi, R/GA, Silicon Valley Bank, 500 Startups, among others. Mary is a graduate of the University of Michigan and has studied improv comedy at The Second City and The Annoyance in Chicago, Upright Citizen’s Brigade in NYC, among other improv theatres. She is the creator and host of Startup Late Night, a late night comedy show featuring business leader guests, and has performed improv and comedy all over the country, including at Gilda Radner’s Laughfest, The Punch Line in San Francisco, and the Lady Laughs Comedy Festival.

Fluent in



  • TED Speaker "How improv can improve your leadership and life"
  • Author of "Straight from the Investor's Mouth"
  • Launched and grew several hi-tech and low-tech products, leading to growth, fundraising, and acquisition
  • Launched a unique philanthropic fund, donating $250,000 in our first year
  • Selected as Entrepreneur of the Year at the University of Michigan
  • Selected as Social Entrepreneur of the Year at the University of Michigan
  • Started business at 14 years old


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