Sara T Brand is the Founding General Partner of True Wealth Ventures
With sexual harassment scandals sweeping through Silicon Valley this summer, you may be feeling even more thankful to be a part of Austin’s startup community. But while those scandals expose the harmful reality of venture capital’s male-dominated culture on women entrepreneurs, they have helped highlight an equally important issue that impacts all of us — the lack of diversity in venture capital.
Simply put, there are not enough women in traditional venture capital funds investing in women. Women represent only 1% of investment decision making general partners (GPs) in venture capital today. There is a similar delta with the venture capital investments into women: only 2.19% of total venture dollars globally in 2016 went to startups with female founders. So women entrepreneurs are not getting the money they need to scale their businesses that solve many unaddressed problems.
So how does Austin stack up? Dell just released their Women Entrepreneurs (WE) Cities Index, which measures a city’s ability to attract and support high potential women entrepreneurs and included a deep dive case study on Austin. We are particularly proud to say that women entrepreneurs in Austin do better than average when it comes to attracting VC funding, both by having more women businesses funded than last year and more women founded VC firms, which is great news.
While we did rank #1 for tech-enabled environments for women entrepreneurs across all 50 cities globally in 2017, we ranked #16 in terms of the percentage of capital given to women led businesses and #15 overall for our ability to attract and support women entrepreneurs. We can do better, folks, and this is a huge opportunity for Austin.
Why not strive to be the #1 city supplying capital to women entrepreneurs? The solution is multifaceted, but two big pieces of both the local and national puzzle that need to be solved for are: 1) getting more women into investment-decision-making roles at VC firms and 2) getting more women investing in VC funds.
Women investors are much more likely to invest in companies with a woman on the founding team (x2) or in companies with women CEOs (x3). The good news is that this makes good financial sense too as women entrepreneurs have shown that they outperform their peers financially, to the tune of 35% higher returns and 12% higher revenue using ⅓ less capital.
The second piece is to get more women investing in venture capital firms as LPs (limited partners.) From experience in our own fund, we’re seeing a significant amount of women step up to venture investing at an unprecedented level. Getting more women involved in early-stage investing is extremely important to Austin’s innovation economy because women are projected to control the majority of US investable assets by 2030. If women do not invest in early-stage innovation, this will be a competitive issue for our entire economy.
What if this movement took hold across Austin and more women began seeing themselves as LPs and angel investors? I believe this will change the current VC dynamic more quickly than anything else.
Consider this a call out to the ladies to step up and start moving those investment assets behind more women entrepreneurs to make a great financial return and a great return for your community – as it is shown that women reinvest 80%+ of their increased wealth back into their families, education and health to lift everyone!