TLDR: We’re bringing together a cohort of 15 aspiring founders in San Francisco for a 9 session masterclass on everything from testing an MVP to dealing with harassment, led by rockstar Silicon Valley female founders and investors from the First Round community. If you’re in undergrad, grad, or early in your tech career and care about broadening access, you’re eligible. Read more at https://femalefoundersdrf.squarespace.com/, and apply here: tinyurl.com/drf-female-founders.
The diversity issues that the startup community has faced have not escaped Dorm Room Fund. While our partnership is over 40% female (doing far better than the 8% industry average in venture), we are still noticing a serious imbalance in the companies that seek funding from DRF. In fact, only about 15% of the founders we backed this past semester were women, while 40% business and engineering school attendees we come from are women.
There’s clearly a huge gap between the number of women who have the relevant skillset in startup-resource-rich environments, and those who are actually starting companies.
From informal polling across partners, founders, friends, and different communities, we’ve realized there are 4 key elements that enable women who’ve started companies or plan to.
- Peer group. They have a trusted, supportive group of like-minded women who are going through the same process, who can offer real empathy and a sounding board for new ideas.
- Clarity on the process. While its impossible to know what the journey is really like, they know where to start, understand what challenges they might face, and can goal set for ideal milestones benchmarked against examples.
- Mentors and role models. They have trusted, key advisors both within industry and for their personal life, to provide rational feedback and guidance through the difficult process. Plus, you can’t be what you can’t see!
- Network for the next steps. When they choose to grow their team, find partners, or fundraise, they have an extensive network who can help them accomplish their goals.
At Dorm Room Fund, we’re supporting the most promising student founders who are defining the future of the tech industry. But we realize we need to go one step before that and address the many game changers out there who just didn’t think they could make that leap to founderhood. The need for this support was only confirmed by the incredible number of women who attended our Future Female Founder’s event this Monday.
That’s why we’re building the Female Founders Track, taking inspiration from First Round’s Product and Angel programs. We’re starting with a cohort of 15 high-potential women across undergraduate, graduate and early-career stages in San Francisco, who are all interested in problems relating to Broadening Access — whether that’s financial services, consumer goods, space travel, or anything in between — and haven’t started a company yet.
There will be 9 seminars or workshops led by rockstar female founders and investors from the First Round community, hosted at First Round Capital in SF. The program will take place in 3 stages. The first set of sessions run from October to December, covering the basics of idea generation and building minimum viable products. The second stage is MVP building in December and January, coinciding with university vacations. Finally, the last stage in February will close out the program by covering scaling, team growth, and fundraising. These sessions are interspersed with social events that will help program participants go beyond the professional setting, and develop close relationships with their cohort and the broader Silicon Valley startup community.
We believe that the combination of learning sessions and social events will build those 4 elements mentioned above, and will be the seed of the most incredible community of Future Female Founders. If you, or someone you know would be interested in joining, please apply at tinyurl.com/drf-female-founder by September 3rd.
If you have questions, would like to collaborate, or have more ideas for us, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or directly to the organizer, SF Managing Partner Shohini Gupta at email@example.com.