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.
For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.
As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.
Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.
What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein
This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.
Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.
While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.
Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.
In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.
"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."