Today, a group of over 75 CEOs and founders are releasing a public letter to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump regarding the greatest economic opportunity in their potential term — women entrepreneurs.
According to McKinsey, if men and women participated equally in entrepreneurship, US GDP would be $30B higher. That’s billions, with a B. The letter contains a thoughtful list of reasonable bi-partisan policy and leadership recommendations to help move us forward to just that future.
This isn’t political. It isn’t just about social justice. It is essential. That is why I signed my support. Many Lightspeed founders who we sent this letter to felt the same way, including the following leaders:
Jessica Alba & Brian Lee, The Honest Company
Leah Busque & Stacy Brown-Philpot, TaskRabbit
Alex Chung, GIPHY
Max Levchin, Affirm
Katrina Lake, StitchFix
Jon Steinberg, Cheddar
Andy Dunn, Bonobos
Matt Maloney, GrubHub
Tyler Bosmeny, Clever
We are in good company with leaders from Dell to Deloitte, Box to 23andme, Eventbrite to SoulCycle.
Lightspeed is in the business of championing entrepreneurs — we are early-stage investors in technology-driven companies where bright-eyed, visionary founders are changing the world, regardless of their gender.
We believe that consumer technology today is popular culture. And we believe that popular culture is led by young women. It turns out that young women know best what other young women want. As a result, we’ve seen firsthand the power of female entrepreneurs. They are the embodiment of the quote:
“Some women fear the fire. Some women simply become it.” — R.H. Sin
Jessica Alba, The Honest Company. Katrina Lake, Stitchfix. Stacy Brown-Philpot and Leah Busque, TaskRabbit. Those are just a few of the women-on-fire that we have backed.
We put our money where our mouth is. Over the past 5 years, we’ve invested over $125 million in companies founded by female entrepreneurs. Almost 30% of all of our consumer facing investments in that time have a female founder. While that is a lot more than the industry average of 7%, it is lower than the 50% that we would see in a perfect world.
Today’s initiative is a step in the right direction. The topic of women entrepreneurs (and women in technology in general) is one that is top of mind to all of us in the valley and beyond. At Lightspeed we are taking steps to support more women entrepreneurs, from investing in female founders to hiring female investment professionals to celebrating female leaders in technology. Every little bit of commitment helps move the needle. As with the others who signed the letter, we think that the government has a role to play here too.
Part of what we are doing to celebrate women leaders is give them a stage to talk about company-building and entrepreneurship as part of Lightspeed’s “Leading Lights” series. The first of these events features Stacy Brown-Philpot, CEO of TaskRabbit, on Nov. 15th in SF. If you are as passionate about entrepreneurship as we are, send us a note with your LinkedIn profile to apply for an invite at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s take action to make progress. If you’re with us on this; if you’re with your friends, and sisters, and daughters and mothers on this, please show your support and tweet using the hashtag today #WhatWENeedToSucceed (WE = women entrepreneurs).
Lightspeed Venture Partners
A Letter to the Next President on Behalf of Women Entrepreneurs
Nov. 1, 2016
To: Secretary Hillary Clinton / Mr. Donald Trump
Dear Madam Secretary / Mr. Trump:
On behalf of our nation’s leading innovators, entrepreneurs and influencers we write today regarding the largest untapped economic and social opportunity in our country — women entrepreneurs. If women and men participated equally in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, the United States’ GDP would rise by $30 billion.
While women are starting businesses twice as fast as men, they have a disproportionally high failure rate, receive only seven percent of venture capital and are represented in only seven percent of media stories. We see enormous opportunity to overcome these obstacles, and with your leadership, our country can benefit from the economic and social opportunity women entrepreneurs present.
Over the last month top business leaders from enterprise CEOs to leading entrepreneurs developed a set of policy and leadership recommendations that will help women entrepreneurs start and scale businesses. Our ideas encompass access to capital, networks, markets and technology.
Access to capital and resources is the most urgent item needed to foster women’s entrepreneurship;
· Incentivize individuals and organizations to invest in female owned companies through venture funds, corporate venture, private equity, and social capital.
· Modernize and grow existing government grant and loan programs that help female-owned businesses compete to reflect changing investment models and make access to information about these programs more accessible.
· Continue to foster and increase small business lending programs, including continued support for bridge loans.
· Work with innovators to create new sources of capital such as crowdfunding and impact investments.
· Encourage enterprise corporations, federal departments and state/local contracts to commit to supplier diversity with a percentage of contracts being awarded to women owned business.
· Find solutions to shorten payment cycles from 90 days to 30 days for small women owned suppliers.
· Incentivize the adoption of family-friendly policies including access to affordable child care, elder care and paid family leave policies.
Women entrepreneurs and business owners are turning to each other for help and the government can help facilitate connections creating access to local and global networks and markets;
· Incentivize mentorship through funding and encourage multiplier platforms such as accelerators, continuing education & training programs and facilitated networking events.
· Encourage conscience placement of women on boards, in venture partnerships and in executive teams.
· Promote positive success stories of female founders and business owners in the media, through conferences and leadership movements.
· Continue to pursue trade agreements, including strong support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP), while addressing investment safeguards, transparency and due process in government procurement and intellectual property protection and enforcement.
· Promote global and open standards and reliable mechanisms for cross-border data transfers, business support services and networks.
· Support trade agreements to open new markets for businesses of all sizes.
No matter what industry, all women owned business are now technology companies and access to technology is critical to their ability to growth;
· Through technology, streamline the process of registering businesses, applying for government resources, and working with strategic offices such as Patent & Trademark Office, Department of Commerce, Small Business Administration and Federal Drug Administration.
· Emphasize Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and digital literacy in public education and early training programs and work with business leaders and educators to remove unconscious biases in the STEM fields.
· Encourage technology training programs to end unconscious and conscience bias in government, corporations and institutions.
· Provide broadband access in all areas of our country.
· Ensure women have options to the hardware, software and digital resources they need to scale their companies.
Through empowering and promoting women entrepreneurs, we can create jobs and solve some of our biggest economic and social challenges. Women put 90 percent of their income into their communities and families, therefore their success will not only benefit our economy, but will also bring continuous solutions to our society. We hope that you will make fostering female entrepreneurship a top domestic policy priority during your upcoming term. We look forward to working with you and your administration to implement the above recommendations and fulling one of the greatest economic opportunities of our time.