In a recent study of nearly 10,000 founders that received investments conducted by RateMyInvestor and DiversityVC, 9 percent identified as women, 17 percent as Asian American, 2.4 percent as Middle Eastern, 1.9 percent as LatinX, and 1 percent as Black.
At Forum Ventures, we’re fighting to change these statistics. We fundamentally reject the fact that there’s a “pipeline problem” in Silicon Valley and believe that VCs should intentionally build new relationships to broaden their top-of-funnel and attract diverse founders that aren’t on their radar otherwise. We believe that there are numerous underrepresented founders out there who are capable of creating venture scale outcomes. Part two of our diversity strategy focuses on how we will broaden the top of our funnel and fund more underrepresented entrepreneurs.
What does success look like?
When we think about what an ideal outcome for these initiatives looks like, we want to live in a world where Forum Ventures can provide equal access to opportunity (capital, exposure, resources) for everyone. Rethinking how we invest is a means to achieve an outcome where we find and fund more underrepresented entrepreneurs. In order to do this, we will intentionally broaden our top of funnel to include founders that we would have previously missed due to implicit or networks-based bias. And we will take diversity out of a silo and embed it into every function of our fund, especially in relation to how we invest.
How does this work?
First, we have to get the lay of the land and understand the key players building a more equitable technology ecosystem. These are the people who we would build a strong relationship with as a part of our outbound sourcing strategy.
This could be VCs who are active in the diversity ecosystem with diversity focused mandates in their fund strategy, underrepresented investors at traditional firms who are passionate about enabling underrepresented founders, and accelerators and incubators who cater to underrepresented founders.
We will also map out startup communities, and research ecosystems in universities (especially public schools) where there is a large concentration of underrepresented folks who are working on big problems (right up our alley!).
Next, we will figure out which community organizations and individuals are high priority for us to reach out to and we will always lead with value, i.e. something tangible to offer, such as:
Once we start to create these relationships, the next step is to maintain them. We won’t be able to see the value in these initiatives if we only do it once. Based on the type of organization/individual, we have designed a regular cadence for check-ins so that we continue to nurture and build these relationships over an extended period of time.
One of, if not, the most important steps in all this is accountability. How will the investment team and the broader Forum Ventures team keep ourselves accountable to ensure that we deliver on our goals? This part is still a work in progress, but we know that this will include reporting to the broader Forum Ventures team and our LPs who have entrusted us with their capital.
In addition, we hope that by sharing our plans with the broader tech community, all of you reading this will keep us accountable and help us achieve the goals outlined above. We recognize that there’s so much more to be done – stay tuned as we release our community and education strategy – how we engage with the broader tech community more equitably and support and educate our portfolio on how they can lead their companies with inclusion in mind from Day 1. We’re excited to embark on this journey and hope you will join us with similar initiatives in your spaces.
Pranavi works on our investment team and manages our sourcing and investing activities on the East Coast for our accelerator and seed fund. If you have any questions at all, please reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org