This is kind of an old story but it will give you a good perspective for the whole “let’s build a venture fund” idea and possibly lessons you can draw from it in case you’d ever decide to go down the venture capital route.
Short summary would be — about two years ago, soon after we actually established hDock42 and the whole European Launchpad idea, we’ve had came to a conclusion, which at that time was hidden to most people in Europe : “Women Are The Next Big Thing In Tech and Business”. It’s who and not what!
And yes, we could debate this till we drop, but it’s a simple fact. If you don’t see it yet, no worries, you will. It’s like gravity, you don’t see it or think about it but if you try to understand how we live on Earth, you find out it’s here and it works.
Now let me tell you how we got to this belief; in the early days of hDock42 we’ve traveled extensively to visit different innovation communities across the world to see and feel the vibes, and to establish or re-establish connections and to find out how we could create or transfer those vibes to Europe. Yes, we were kind of obsessed with “how to get the Silicon Valley vibes to Europe”. I mean look, it kind of makes no sense, no one wants to live in Silicon Valley, because of its beauty and culture and history, we all went there because of people we can meet there and vibe (or atmosphere if you want) we find there. Wouldn’t it be much cooler if you could have the vibes, the people and drive to try and experiment in a place where people actually want to live? In a place which actually has culture, history, and streets you can walk on!
And as we’ve visited trade fairs, job fairs, innovation fairs, makers fairs, business and tech conferences, and startup summits. We loved them all but one trip has felt very special among them all. It was our trip to NYC, Boston, and Pittsburgh. Our main destination was annual EmTech (MIT Technology Review event) in Boston where we went to hear more about emerging technologies cooking in labs around the world.
It was completely unplanned but this whole trip was the first one, after many before, where we saw the female power in action…
- organizers of EmTech kept absolutely balanced the diversity on stage and it struck us as an amazing that at the two days conference focused on fields of deep science, robotics, and new materials, that’s even possible
- we got invited to Boston meetup community Tech-In-Motion running “Women Entrepreneurs” evening where we’ve seen ladies from 12 years old special ice-cream inventor to lady doctors running a healthcare apps for special-needs care and we’ve found out how city of Boston supports innovators and diversity for over a decade, including mayor himself.
- We’ve met amazing female creators at NYC Media Lab.
- and many more little instances where the combined presence of both genders has made us think, wow, they are a great team or it’s a great match these two, etc.
It was during this two weeks trip that we started to watch out for the signs of gender equality and the feeling started to grow into belief — that it’s more important who is involved than what is being done or where.
Let’s try a venture fund
Then we looked around and thought, if we want to make an impact, we should be able to move female founders forward hence we should build a venture fund. But wait, if we are going to work on building a venture fund, it will be number 1001 in Europe, so we should really find some edge no one has. Could that edge be hard-focus on gender?
I mean everyone will tell you they have smart money, smart ass, great contacts, operational expertise, and…you name it. But very few VCs in Europe actually stand for something special; be it deep understanding of the industry and real hands-on experience like Passion Capital, or building a strong supporting community like Hardware Club. And so we decided (on a very high-level) to get the special edge by focusing on female founders across Europe.
And that was it. Our ideation start for the project to create a venture fund focused on female entrepreneurs. It did not have a name back then but we knew we want to focus on female founders or mixed founders teams across Europe because this can have a disproportionate impact and we won’t be competing in a faceless crowd of VC funds. And yes, we thought that everyone will be as excited as we were about this unexploited niche focus. This was early 2017…
Well, we were heading in for a big big surprise…
Wanna know what was the surprise and how we handled it? Follow us to get notified automatically when we publish the next Journal entry or just check back in a week or so…