I have this vision...
Someone gets all of the most powerful and connected women in NYC--Barbara Corcoran, Beth Comstock, and maybe even folks like Lady Gaga--and puts together a Founder Collective-like venture fund. Everyone could toss in 100k and you could definitely find 1:1 matching from various instructions to bring it up to $10mm. Let's bring in both Clinton women, too, while we're at it. It would literally be the most kick-ass, impressive roster of innovative and well-networked women you've ever seen.
And you know who they'd fund?
Well, of course they'd fund women, too. They'd naturally get 100% of all of the female founder dealflow--but women funding women isn't new.
But having a fund led by and funded by women that ANY guy would fall over themselves to get capital from, or that any group of dude VCs would bring into a deal--now that would be a gamechanger. That's because a fund that has the most powerful group of women would be the most well connected fund, period. And when guys start pitching to women for capital, that's when you really get behavior change.
Don't you think guys would be a little more thoughtful about a slate of bros on their team page if they were pitching in front of a partner meeting of all women? Wouldn't you go out of your way to avoid a frat house environment and reputation at your startup if you knew you had female backers?
My fund, Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, has collected only 2.5% of its investor capital from women, but 57% of the capital I've deployed in startups has gone to female founders. That's not particularly game changing. When I report to my investors, I'm mostly talking to dudes--and kickass women are getting funded left and right. That's kind of more of the same.
The problem is that so few women pitch. I probably get a higher percentage of female founders pitching because I've already funded women, and I've backed companies like chloe + isabel and Refinery29 whose target audiences are female. Still, I'd guess that only around 5-10% of any VC's dealflow is from females. The problem is environmental--women just aren't participating in droves in tech entrepreneurship--and I think a lot of it is cultural.
When all of the investors are guys, the way to get money is to behave in ways that appeal to guys--swing for the fences, talk big, be loud, don't sweat the details.
In other words, more than anything else, money sets the tone.
No matter how many female engineers get educated, or female founders get backed, when dudes write the checks, dude behavior rules the roost.
That's why I'm excited about efforts like 37Angels, where women are being educated to angel invest in both sexes--to step up and write checks. There are lots of successful women who want to get involved in supporting innovation but who don't have an educational inroad into being angels. Unlike guys, women tend not to just start writing random checks when they don't know what they're doing--so education is important.
Fund investing represents an excellent way to break into the angel investing world. You go in on a diversified pool that has the opportunity to throw off co-investment opportunities. Plus, you can impact who the VCs are funding when it's your money they're using. If 50% of the money that VCs were investing with came from women, I think you'd see a pretty dramatic sea change in both VC and entrepreneur interactions.
Because like I said, money sets the tone.