Half-hearted decency pledges, unkept promises to implement gender bias training, vague commitments to become more accessible, with so much noise and so little action, it’s hard to stay optimistic about the state of venture capital. As an industry, it’s clear that we need proactive investors who are not only willing to lead the charge, but also to recruit peers to change the ratio of female investors and investments in female entrepreneurs. Participation must include all levels of VCs, from early stage scouts and micro funds to larger late stage funds.
Over the past few years, I've built a robust global community of female entrepreneurs to democratize access to top investors who are authentically committed to closing the funding gap. In this ongoing blog series, I highlight the investors who are putting money where their mouths are, funding exceptional female founders, and setting an example for the rest of the industry.
Sara Deshpande, Partner, Maven Ventures
"One strategy I have implemented is increasing the number of women founders in our investment pipeline. The meetings we take are directly in our control, and if we don't take meetings with a broad set of founders, we can't build a diverse portfolio. My goal is for 50% of my initial investment meetings to be with women founders, and it seems to be working. So far this year, two of the four investments we have made at Maven Ventures have a female founder."
Kirsten Green, Partner, Forerunner Ventures
"Nearly half of our portfolio companies are run by women. We believe that women are every bit as capable and ambitious as men and back that belief up with investment dollars and active partnerships."
Rebecca Kaden, General Partner, Union Square Ventures
"We are meeting with every company in our current portfolio to talk about how they prioritize diversity in their teams and asking them to opt in to tracking. We are taking the position very strongly that we want to help those that want to be helped--and we believe that's the vast majority of our portfolio--we don't want to police or shame, we want to be active problem solvers and create alignment around this being a business initiative. We are also excited to continue backing fantastic female entrepreneurs. We think our own diversity helps here too and creates a competitive advantage. But we're increasing our own consciousness and awareness around our portfolio stats to set goals and track them."
Joanne Wilson, Angel Investor, Gotham Gal Ventures
"I made a commitment to be an advocate and fund female founders over 10 years ago. I made over 100 investments and 65% of them are of female founders. Investors all have different thesis' and should be investing in the opportunities that follow that. Committing to invest a percentage of the capital in their fund to female founders is a start."
Drew Koven, Managing Director, LDR Ventures
"70% of LDR Ventures funding, mentoring and advising is dedicated to female and minority entrepreneurs. We have over 50 Venture Mentors who actively assist female entrepreneurs with their experience, relationships, knowledge and financial capital. One of our two Managing Directors, Maxine Kozler, is a woman. A final investment decision cannot be made without her approval."
Jake Chapman, Partner, Gelt Venture Capital
"People talk about pattern matching in VC. While I see value in pattern matching, I work hard to evaluate each and every opportunity as the unique opportunity it actually is. I do this recognizing that female and diverse founders have dealt with a different set of goal posts over their entire life. In practice this means that we acknowledge the extra barriers overcome by female founders when evaluating traction."
Lauren Loktev, Partner, Collaborative Fund
"Two of the five people on our investment team are women, and we seek to invest in female founders by working with organizations and investors that expose us to more deal flow with women-led companies. We feel strongly that prioritizing diversity in hiring is critical to better decision-making and to furthering diversity in our portfolio."
Chip Hazard, General Partner, Flybridge Capital Partners
"1. In July of this year, Flybridge launched a new fund, XFactor Ventures. The fund is focused on making 30 pre-seed and seed stage investments over 12-18 months in companies with billion dollar market opportunities that have at least one female founder.
2. We are partnering with the New England Venture Capital Association on training programs and working groups focused on creating change in the industry.
3. We are evaluating our deal data on an ongoing basis
4. We are spending more time going to and supporting women founder events and making sure when we host entrepreneur events that women make up a significant number of invitees."
Trish Costello, Partner, Portfolia
"Nearly all our limited partner members are women and we focus where women make markets. The success factors of women-led companies are very clear and they are the influencers and market-makers behind most venture-backed companies"
Marlon Nichols, Co-founder & Managing Partner, Cross Culture Ventures
"More LP dollars must flow to firms that take unbiased approach to investing. We actively seek out female founders. Our venture partner is a Korean woman that holds us accountable. At every turn, we highlight the achievements of female entrepreneurs and investment colleagues. Every bit helps to debunk some of the silly stereotypes about women founders."
This post originally appeared on Forbes