By Angie Chang (Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Women 2.0)
Last week, Pemo Theodore interviewed 500 Startups Dave McClure along with several women co-founders in his portfolio: Prerna Gupta (CEO, khu.sh), Elizabeth Yin and Jennifer Chin (Co-Founders, LaunchBit).
“Women founders or co-founders are probably 20-25% of the [500 Startups] portfolio. I think there is probably some bias in investing in what we know and VCs tend to be white males from finance or MBA backgrounds who invest in white males from finance or MBA backgrounds… You invest in things that you know. So for me, I grew up around my mom who was an entrepreneur and other people… and as we’ve got experience as women as founders and CEOs, we’ve gotten more comfortable with that…”
“I do look for [women founders] now because it’s an advantage. My intent is to corner the market on awesome smart women founders because there are plenty of them out and if there is any bias whatsoever, we’d like to selfishly take advantage of that,” — Dave McClure, 500 Startups.
Watch the whole interview with Dave McClure and some female founders in the 500 Startup portfolio:
Diverse Startup Teams Picking Up Steam
“Women tend to network with women, and men tend to network with men,” says Sharon Vosmek, the CEO of Astia. “It plays out on the golf course, in the boardroom and it’s certainly playing out in high-growth entrepreneurship.”
When women are in the Palo Alto garages where tech startups are founded (or the boardrooms where they are funded), the startups with both men and women on the founding team are more profitable and innovative than their less-diverse counterparts.
The Founder Labs incubator, spun out of Women 2.0 earlier this year, boasts teams that are 50% men and 50% women. The key is inclusion, which Women 2.0 drives with partnerships with local hackathons and other action-oriented events that move the needle on creating women founders of tech startups.
Each annual Women 2.0 Startup Weekend has boasted a 50/50 gender split and created successful tech startups. Talented Adaptive Path UI designer Alexa Andrzejewski fetched her first angel investor for Foodspotting at the November 2009 Women 2.0 Startup weekend, raising $3M in 2011 to take her venture forward. Meanwhile developer Mariya Genzel started Ultimate Hire at Women 2.0 Startup Weekend, and announced raising $1M last month for her startup now named Saygent.
Firms like Illuminate Ventures share a similar stance on not relying on “pattern recognition” and seek new and innovative business ideas led by committed, talented and diverse teams, particularly those that are inclusive of women entrepreneurs. Cindy Padnos, foundering partner of Illuminate Ventures, has published a well-circulated whitepaper stating:
“The high-tech companies women build are more capital-efficient than the norm. The average venture-backed company run by a woman had achieved comparable early-year revenues, using an average of one-third less committed capital.” — Illuminate Ventures Whitepaper
If only the startups coming out of Palo Alto garages are as diverse as the rest of the world, we would have a better world — more diverse and profitable startups creating jobs and driving innovation that matters.
About the guest blogger: Angie Chang co-founded Women 2.0 in 2006 with Shaherose Charania. She currently serves as Editor-In-Chief of Women 2.0 and is working to mainstream women in entrepreneurship. Previously, Angie held roles in product management, web UI design, and entrepreneurship. In 2008, Angie launched Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners, asking that guys come as the “+1” for once. Angie holds a B.A. in English and Social Welfare from UC Berkeley. Follow her on Twitter at @thisgirlangie.