There are a number of issues impacting everyone’s ability to close the gender gap including making STEM/STEAM education more open and appealing to people of diverse backgrounds.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Ben Lamm, a serial technology entrepreneur dedicated to making the impossible possible. Ben is the Founder/CEO of Hypergiant. Previously, he was the Founder/CEO of Conversable acquired by LivePerson, Founder/CEO of Chaotic Moon Studios acquired by Accenture and Team Chaos, acquired by Zynga.
Thank you so much for joining us, let’s jump right in. According to this article in Fortune, only 2.2% of VC dollars went to women in 2018. Can you share with our readers what you or your firm is doing to help close the VC gender gap?
Texas has a big community of angel investors and VCs focused on Texas companies. I’ve been an avid supporter of making sure that everyone is focused on leading with innovation — and to be a truly innovative company you need diverse leaders with diverse backgrounds who bring a diversity of ideas to the table. That’s what helps all of us change the model. Focusing on these three kinds of diversity is a cornerstone of how I invest and push others to invest too.
Can you recommend 5 things that need to be done on a broader societal level to close the VC gender gap, and explain?
There are a number of issues impacting everyone’s ability to close the gender gap including:
· Making STEM/STEAM education more open and appealing to people of diverse backgrounds.
· Encouraging everyone to become creative problem solvers across all industries.
· Increasing our understanding of engineering on a basic level so that we are tech literate, regardless of which industry we work in.
· Reducing the gender pay gap so that we have more women with more money who can also invest in anyone they consider fundable.
· Investing more often in more women at any stage of business, not just those who are going for VC-backed rounds.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Climate change is the central issue of our time, and, next to something like a giant asteroid strike, it’s the greatest existential threat to our entire species. Our legislators have done little to address it. Instead, we just keep kicking the ball down the road.
Historically, women and people of color have been the greatest champions of justice in our country, and climate change is a social justice issue, an environmental justice issue, and a human-rights issue.
I strongly believe that if we want to have any chance of solving climate change, we need more women and people of color in power. We need to elect more women and people of color to every office. Then we need to get behind them and push!
Who’s a female entrepreneur/ VC you respect and why?
I really admire Lisa Harris, the Founder and Managing Partner of Align Capital. She strategically combines the roles of entrepreneur and VC, and she is an incredibly generous, compassionate individual. Under Lisa’s leadership, Align Capital has truly set the standard for meaningful investment and support for early-stage companies.
Lisa consistently demonstrates that investment shouldn’t stop in the boardroom. Her non-profit work and community service is a testament to the fact that — even in a fast-paced industry like technology venture capital — it’s possible to give back in ways that both inform your investment strategy and support your local community.
What do you think is the purpose and real impact of VC funds who focus their work on women and minorities?
The simple truth is VC funds are often reserved for white, well-educated, socially connected men. It’s something we’ve all heard before, but few are willing to act to rectify this situation. For me, investing and supporting these groups is a no-brainer. Not only are you removing a glass ceiling that has existed for too long, but it also makes economic sense because you’re tapping into ideas that have yet to be explored.
Fortunately, I’m surrounded by VCs who already take this message to heart. For years, Tom Meredith has quietly and consistently invested in women-led companies. It’s been amazing to see the way his investments grow and multiply impact for other marginalized communities.
I’ve also been very impressed by the work of Austin’s DivInc and their founder, Preston James. DivInc succinctly summarizes the importance of diverse investing, stating that “by building successful high-growth companies, we can disproportionately influence the economic, political and social development of communities nationwide.” While DivInc is an accelerator program for women and people of color, not a VC firm, I think their point stands, and their approach, “to change the face of entrepreneurship, one venture at a time,” is a powerful model for the larger VC community to follow.
Can you share with us an anecdote about the real impact you’ve had in this field?
I’ve founded a number of companies, and when I think about the impact I’ve had, I always come back to the fact that I’ve helped create jobs for a lot of great, forward-thinking people. Overall, that’s what I’m most proud of. I’ve had the privilege of working with highly talented and creative individuals, and it’s been a true privilege.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them. :-)
Warren Buffet is perhaps the most iconic investor to live today. Additionally, he’s one of the most giving. I’d enjoy being able to sit down with him and discuss everything from business to his incredible philanthropy.
Thank you for all of these great insights!
About The Author:
Tyler Gallagher is the CEO and Founder of Regal Assets, a “Bitcoin IRA” company. Regal Assets is an international alternative assets firm with offices in the United States, Canada, London and Dubai focused on helping private and institutional wealth procure alternative assets for their investment portfolios. Regal Assets is an Inc. 500 company and has been featured in many publications such as Forbes, Bloomberg, Market Watch and Reuters. With offices in multiple countries, Regal Assets is uniquely positioned as an international leader in the alternative assets industry and was awarded the first ever crypto-commodities license by the DMCC in late 2017. Regal Assets is currently the only firm in the world that holds a license to legally buy and sell cryptos within the Middle East and works closely with the DMCC to help evolve and grow the understanding and application of blockchain technology. In addition to his role with Regal Assets, Tyler is a regular contributor to Forbes, Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global and Authority Magazine. Tyler has also been featured in many news publications and has been a guest expert on “The News with Ed Shultz”. Tyler is a proud member of the Forbes Finance Council a private invite only-group of hand-selected industry leaders.