I was recently asked to speak at two Boulder Startup Week sessions on startup diversity to provide my perspective as a female investor with experience investing in women-led companies. Admittedly, when I was asked to speak on these topics, I was a little miffed. Two more invitations to speak about being a woman rather than what I am truly passionate about – startup investing. In fact, in deciding to found MergeLane – the startup accelerator and fund for startups with at least one female in leadership — my business partner and I had long talks about our ambivalence around this issue. I’ve written about this before. But….I wanted to be a part of Boulder Startup Week, and I was asked to speak with three of my favorite startup investors: Nicole Glaros and David Cohen from Techstars, and Brad Feld from Foundry Group. I am so glad that I agreed to give these talks.
Since my partner and I made the leap to create MergeLane two years ago, there has been extensive media coverage on the benefits of gender diversity and explosive growth of female-focused investing. We talk about our goal of being obsolete, and we’re always wondering when MergeLane’s gender lens strategy will no longer be needed. Talking with Nicole, Brad and David not only convinced me that I am still on the right path, but it also reminded me of three critical things:
1) Investing in diversity is not a charitable cause. It is an investment in innovation.
2) Diversity in the startup community means far more than gender diversity.
3) Diversity requires ongoing attention.
There are dozens of studies that support the case for diversity in business. As I was reminded from my talks this week, there are multiple ways to actually achieve it. You can hear a few examples from my conversation on diversity with David Cohen here.
Additionally, the following is a list of some of my favorite diversity tactics coupled with a few more, courtesy of my co-speakers Nicole Glaros, David Cohen and Brad Feld.
Thanks to Boulder Startup Week and my co-speakers Nicole, David and Brad, I’m reenergized about the MergeLane mission and the importance of diversity beyond gender. Having a network of smart people to keep me in check is yet another reason it’s a privilege to call Boulder and the global startup community home. Onward and Upward.
I am extremely disciplined and focused. However, this can also be a detriment. Anything I perceive as a distraction from my to-do list feels stressful, and I have to constantly tell myself that off-the-to-do-list opportunities are often the best opportunities. I was recently reminded of that.
For the final episode of Fund81's first season, I interviewed Jaclyn Freeman Hester from Foundry Group. As someone relatively new to the industry, she has a fresh perspective on what's compelling to institutional investors and an incredible pulse on the landscape for emerging VC managers. Enjoy!
Could I be more effective if I simply surrendered to a schedule that felt natural to me? After some serious self-reflection and experimentation, I can unequivocally say YES.
I’m trying to focus my time on opportunities to operate in my zone of genius and a few select priority areas in line with my passions and in which I feel I can make the most impact, aka my true north. To help all of us stay the course, I thought it might be helpful to share those priorities.
I gave first without question for almost five years. It came back to me in spades. I don’t regret it, and I think it was exactly the right thing for me to do at the time. But then….it just got to be too much.
Dave Balter, the CEO of one of our MergeLane portfolio companies, Flipside Crypto, shares his perspective on investing in the cryptocurrency space. Dave is obsessed with and extremely knowledgeable about cryptocurrency, and has an interesting perspective from both sides of the table.
Most venture capital funds target a minimum ownership percentage when making investments. In this Fund81 episode, Amish Jani, a founder and Managing Director of FirstMark Capital, shares his take on why ownership matters and how funds of different sizes and strategies determine ownership targets.
Venture capital funds are typically structured to have a 10-year lifespan, but venture-backed companies often take more than 10 years to achieve an exit and return capital to their investors. In this Fund81 podcast episode, we discuss solutions to this problem with our our guest, Roland Reynolds.
This year, I decided to do an experiment. To build our MergeLane investor and mentor network, I dedicated four months to exclusively focus on meetings that involved skiing.
Conscious Leadership has been a game-changer for our partnership and our investing. For this Fund81 podcast interview, I invited my business partner at the MergeLane venture fund for high-potential startups with at least one woman in leadership, Sue Heilbronner, to talk about Conscious Leadership.