daphni chronicles
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daphni chronicles

Daphni Takes Action — Included #1

During the spring of 2019, daphni was asked to co-build and -run Included VC. Stephen Millard and Chris Tottman at Notion VC had an ambitious plan to act on and improve one of the most pressing issues they saw in VC — the lack of diversity. We said yes based on a deck, not only because we wanted to work towards a more diverse VC scene, but also because Included VC would be actionable and deliver results. Together with Notion, Creandum, Mangrove, Enern, Seedcamp, Kfund and Point Nine we set off to build a 12 months program to open the door to VC — and ultimately make the ecosystem more inclusive.

After an intense spring organising the program, we announced that the application process for Included VC had opened, without really knowing what to expect. This was something completely new — would anyone apply? The results were incredible. More than 1400 people from all across the world applied for the 30 spots we had for the 12 months program, kicking off later during the fall. To create an inclusive program, one needs to think through the application process in great detail. We used the insanely good and well-thought out HR tool “Applied”, for the selection process, which, among other things, meant that we couldn’t see any information about the applicants (names/age/education/work experience etc.), but only the answers to the questions they had filled in. The questions themselves were oriented around motivation and community engagement. It was absolutely fascinating to read such amazing and interesting stories from people, being so motivated to work in VC. After the remaining interview steps, we had selected our 30 fellows and the congratulations email went out. The excitement started.. and just never stopped. We are so proud to present the first cohort of fellows, from 16 nationalities, 14 cities out of which 56% are black, Asian or mixed, 60% female & 10% neurodivergent. More than these stats, we are humbled by their level of experience, ambition and genuine willingness to help each other and their communities grow.

In the end of October, the first masterclass about Venture Capital Fundamentals was held by daphni, Notion and the brilliant Nikita Thakrar, Founding Director of Included VC. Besides daphni, Stephen Millard and Stephen Chandler, 30 engaged people listened in to us sharing our experiences in VC. It was our first encounter with the fellows, seeing them through the small Zoom boxes, and suddenly it felt a bit more real. Over the course of the year, more masterclasses are to come, as well as workshops, mentoring and retreats where we are sharing and discussing all aspects of venture investing — from deal flow analysis to fund branding.

Just a few weeks later, the first retreat took place in Berlin, where we would spend the weekend with the other Venture Partners and the fellows. Despite knowing the program inside-out, we had no idea what to expect. After welcoming and giving everyone their hoodies, bags and note books, the fellows introduced themselves. In short, they blew our minds. They have built and are building communities, are human rights activists, PhDs, migrants, out-of-the-box thinkers, refugees. Highly intelligent, driven and kind people who have fought to create the change they want to see. We had workshops, deal flow simulations, discussions, and.. fun! Their diverse backgrounds, filled with incredible stories combined with their interest in tech, investments and change-making made the weekend the success it was. They are our definition of inspiration and what we wish to see in this ecosystem moving forward. They want to learn, they want to share and they want to help. It was real.

We are so incredibly excited to get to know the fellows better, and, we have so much to learn from each and every one of them — it is a true privilege to do so.

[..] “Finally I’ve found a place — a fellowship — where I can have thoughtful discussions with fellow cohort members and learn insider knowledge from our mentoring VCs; where I don’t have to constantly re-explain the inherent value in having a diversity of thought, experience and network in decision-making positions; and where everyone agrees that this diversity is critical to the future of venture capital and good for the economy as a whole.” — Carol Tarr, Included Fellow — Article

It is easy to get overwhelmed by all the articles and reports written about the lack of diversity in the tech scene. The figures are unfortunately not shocking, just visit a tech event and you will see how right these reports are. But, we have also started seeing positive change. Multiple initiatives across the globe are taking action, and more and more VCs are jumping on the train. Not doing so would be the opposite of strategic, as it would directly affect the performance opportunities negatively. Diverse teams result in more well-rounded decision making, and in this specific case, it means that promising founders, who otherwise would be overlooked because they don’t “fit the pattern”, would be seen. In other words, diversity decreases the risk of missing out on the next unicorn and opens our minds to new ideas. The VC industry needs to go through internal change, and Included VC is a step towards that.

This cohort of fellows have set the bar high, and we hope that, what started off as a deck, will help them in their lives going forward, as well as help their communities. But, hold your horses — we too, have expectations. We want them to become the most inspiring alumni group this world has ever seen, helping the upcoming cohorts of fellows. And the group after that. And their communities. And each other’s communities. And us. We are excited to follow every single one of them and see the change they continue to make.

Stay tuned for more updates on how Daphni takes action..

Read more about Included here: Included.vcSifted.eu

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daphni chronicles shares lessons learned and analyses from daphnipolis, the great community around the venture fund daphni. It's like having private talks with high level thinkers & doers of the tech world.

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