Accessibility as an Advantage in Venture Capital: Why Creating Value for Everyone in the Community Wins

I believe that the next generation of top companies are far more likely to be founded by people not on VC radars today. Today's top founders will undoubtedly start something new in the future, but they won't make up the majority of innovators going forward--just as prior generations of venture backed founders don't make up a majority of those who are succeeding today.

That believe has not only translated into the most diverse portfolio run by an investor who looks like me, with over 50% of the teams including diverse founders, but also into top quartile returns in our last fund.

But diversity isn’t any kind of criteria for us—it’s a function of trying to create value for the whole ecosystem--not just those you back. Opening up our circle to create and scale genuine engagement for people outside of typical venture networks is how we do business—and we’re getting exceptional deal flow because of that.

We backed four of the female founders in the Inc Female Founders 100 list—another five we passed on and two had rounds oversubscribed before we got a chance to invest. (Hey! I didn’t say venture investing was easy—but at least we got a look.)

Just yesterday, I got a note from a female founder of color:

“Earlier this year you invited me to one of your off sites and that made a huge difference for me as a founder raising capital for my first company… I'm just looping back with the individuals who were helpful and who said "yes" to me during a pretty grueling process. You passed on investing in my company but you still made an investment in my leadership and I'm deeply appreciative.”

Last week, we ran Fall Fundraising Days, which featured 11 NYC events on raising capital that 800+ individuals attended across the week. Most were open to the public, but we didn't stop there--we intentionally sought out recommendations for underrepresented attendees and didn't stop making those asks as the events filled up with greater balance than your usual tech event.

This story from Cherae Robinson was just one other example of how our events helped someone we didn’t back (we have a portfolio conflict) reach their potential.

Venture is all about access—getting the best deals. That access cuts both ways—because at our stage, we need to make sure the best deals can get to us.

That means, to start out, no need for warm intros, since everyone’s network looks too much like themselves—but that’s just table stakes.

I generally accept any invite to speak or answer questions in front of a public group that I get.

We run a series of best practice workshops where we put top VCs in front of audiences of new junior professionals at funds and accredited investors looking to start angel investing—and we intentionally seek out underrepresented people to join. (Contact me here to find out more about this.)

We host neighborhood dinners across different parts of NYC—from Park Slope to Harlem, and the West Village to Bushwick, and beyond, to connect startup and tech professionals to their neighbors.

For the last decade, I’ve been sharing open events, opportunities and info in my weekly tech newsletter.

So come participate in the community we’re creating around Brooklyn Bridge Ventures.