As managing partner of Blue Startups, a venture accelerator in Hawaii, we had some specific goals in mind for our upcoming cohort. One of those goals related to the UN Sustainability Goal #5 of Gender Equality. Being that two partners at Blue Startups, myself and Maya Rogers, are rare females in the field of venture capital (just 11% of the VC partners are women), gender equality in the startup world is not just a global issue, but a personal one.
Thus, as we began recruiting for our 12th cohort at Blue Startups, we put a spotlight on our desire for female founded companies to apply. All our marketing materials highlighted this fact and we put the word out through our networks of organizations with similar missions of supporting female founders in technology. Our message was so prominent, in fact, that many male founders reported to me that they did not think they could apply to this cohort (we were taking applications from all, just wanted to put a special call out to the female founders in this male dominated industry).
How male dominated? According to a recent report by Silicon Valley Bank, only 28% of startups have a female founder. Female lead companies are even rarer and the venture capital money follows suit. In the U.S., data from Crunchbase News shows that only 3 percent of venture money was spent on all female teams; 8 percent was given to mixed teams while 89 percent supported all male teams.
So, how did we do in attracting female founders? I regret to report, no better than average:
However, we do have control over our selection process. And, without revealing too much (Cohort #12 to be announced on August 10), I can say that we will be investing in more female founded, and female led companies in this cohort than any previous cohort. What matters most is where the money goes.
Why do we care so much about gender equality? Not just that we are women who are in turn both raising daughters; but we believe, and statistics support this belief, that female founders are more competent and lead to better outcomes for our investors. Women-led startups have a 35% higher ROI when venture backed and generate 12% higher revenue than male-led startups. So, our decision to back female founded companies is both mission driven and ROI motivated. We hope more funders will join us on this journey, women need to not just have a seat at the table, but to be at the head of, it for things to truly change.