Business 20 December 2018
It is no secret that in venture capital, the decision makers and the beneficiaries of those decisions look very homogeneous. It is also implied that in order for startups to be successful, they better be located in the Bay Area of California, New York City, or Boston.
The fact that San Francisco and Silicon Valley alone account for 45% of the venture capital invested in 2017* supports this idea in the minds of entrepreneurial talent. Some investors claim there is a pipeline issue, but more realistically there is a power issue. It is widely acknowledged that this is a problem, but inertia tends to win out and the industry has be slow to adopt change.
We know the highly ambitious, future Fortune 500 founders are equally distributed across the country and will represent the whole spectrum of gender, race, and religion, but right now venture capital is missing this enormous opportunity to capture and support talent that is outside the geographic innovation hubs and homogeneous expectations.
Research is continuing to show that diverse, women-led companies grow faster and are proving more sustainable, but still receive only 5 percent of all venture capital awarded to entrepreneurs. Rarer still are the female founders of color who only see 2 basis points of venture capital. Shockingly, Inc. Magazine shares that only 26 female founders of color have raised more than $1 million of outside capital…ever.
Chloe Capital, a seed stage VC firm focused on women-led innovation companies, is embarking on a National Tour to employ a localized investing strategy and invest half a million dollars over the next six months.
They are leading the movement to close the gap in venture capital given to underrepresented entrepreneurs in overlooked communities by seeking out diverse, high growth potential companies to add to their growing portfolio.
In each of the 5 tour stops in cities across the US, there will be an investment workshop and pitch event, open to the public, where 5 local finalists will compete for a $100K top prize and an additional opportunity for follow-on funding.
The first tour stop is Rochester, NY. This rust belt city is the perfect location to represent the many overlooked and underserved markets with untapped talent, lower valuations and operating expenses, and increased regional support. All five of the Chloe Capital finalists on this stop have some relationship to the Upstate New York Region. BetterBred (betterbred.com) a DNA based conversation software preserving historic breeds and beloved pets, Immersed Games (immersedgames.com) creating video games that power students to love and learn STEM subjects, and Outgift (outgift.com) a retail-tech company changing the way you gift are all based in Buffalo, NY.
The remaining finalists BrandVerge (gobrandverge.com) a marketplace and workflow tool for advertisers to plan scalable media partnerships, and It's by U (itsbyu.com) DIY flower arrangement kits delivered straight from the farm, either have family or grew up in the Upstate Region. If you'd like to attend the pitch event you can register at CHLOESrochester.eventbrite.com.
I predict powerful ripple effects from the rest of the industry following this tour and the movement it represents, especially as Chloe Capital sees above average returns from these investments. The firm is changing the statistic of which entrepreneurs have access to capital, but they are also creating a new power base to diversify the decision-makers who control those decisions.
This movement is a call to be an ally and advocate for awareness and intentionality in investing. If you are an investor, you can diversify the leaders in your organization and be more aware of your own biases when assessing your pipeline. If you are an entrepreneur, you can also ensure your leadership teams are diverse and be bold to inform where the industry is falling short to support you.
If you are a subject matter expert or mentor, offer your talents to coach and guide promising entrepreneurs that are more representative of all entrepreneurial talent.
It is always good to examine the status quo, but in this case, is not being challenged for the sake of controversy. Within the innovation ecosystem, continuing to overlook and underserve certain markets and entrepreneurs is damaging to everyone involved.
Join the movement and get curious how you can be an ally to support diverse, women-led companies as an investor, entrepreneur, coach, or advocate.
Personally, I am over the top excited that we are on the cusp of turning the page on not only a new year but also on a new 10-year window of opportunities and possibilities!
You may be thinking, whoa…I am just embracing the fall season…yikes… it is tough to think about a new decade!
Yet it is this groundwork, this forward thought that you put in place TODAY that will propel you and lead you into greatness in 2020 and beyond. Designing a new decade rests in your ability to vision, in your willingness to be curious, in your awareness of where you are now and what you most want to curate. Essentially, curating what's next is about tapping into today with confidence, conviction, and decision. Leading YOU starts now. This is your new next. It is your choice.
Sometimes to get to that 'next', you need to take a step back to reflect. Please pardon my asking you to spend time in yesterday. Those who know me personally, know that I created and continue to grow my business based on enabling the present moment as a springboard for living your legacy. So, indulge me here! True, I am asking you to peek into the past, yet it is only in order for you to bring the essence of that past forward into this moment called NOW.
One of the best ways to tap into what's next is to clarify what drives you. To design a new decade, ask yourself this question about the past ten years:
What worked? What were my successes?
Make a list of your achievements big and small. Don't type them, but rather use ink and paper and sit with and savor them. Move your thoughts and your successes from your head, to your heart, to your pen, to the paper. Remember that on the flip side of goals not attained and New Year's resolutions abandoned, there was more than likely some traction and action that moved you forward, even if the end result was not what you expected. Once you have a full list of a decade's worth of personal and professional accomplishments, think about how this makes you feel. Do you remember celebrating all of them? My guess is no. So, celebrate them now. Give them new life by validating them. Circle the successes that resonate with you most right now. Where can you lean into those accomplishments as you power into the decade ahead?
Now comes a tougher question, one that I used myself in my own mid-life reinvention and a question I adore because in a moment's time it provides you with a quick reconnect to your unique inner voice.
If it were 10 years ago and nothing were standing in your way, no fear or excuses to contend with…what would you do?
Don't overthink it. The brilliance of this question is that it refocuses purpose. Whatever first came to mind when you answered this for yourself is at its core a powerful insight into defining and redefining the FUTURE decade. Bring your answer into the light of today and what small piece of it is actionable NOW? Where is this resonating and aligning with a 2019 version of yourself?
Then, based on your success list and your answer to the above question, what is your 2020 vision for your business and for the business of YOU?
Designing a new decade begins as a collection of 3,650 opportunities. 3,650 blank slates of new days ahead in which to pivot and propel yourself forward. Every single one of those days is a window into your legacy. An invitation to be, create, explore, and chip away at this thing we call life. One 24-hour segment at a time.
While you have a decade ahead to work on design improvements, you have the ability to begin manifesting this project of YOU Version 2020 right NOW. Based on exploring the exercises in this post, begin executing your vision. Ask questions. Be present. Let go of 2019 and the past 10 years so that you can embrace the next 10. Position acceptance and self-trust at the forefront of how you lead you. One choice at a time.
Don't get bogged down in the concept of the next 10 years. Instead position clarity and intention into each new day, starting today. Then chase every one of those intentions with an in-the-moment commitment and solution toward living a legendary life!