Who has access to the opportunities of venture funding?

This first-of-its-kind guide looks at diversity and inclusion in venture capital—who funds, who gets funded, what needs to change, and how to make it happen.

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Better Venture

Improving Diversity, Innovation, and Profitability in Venture Capital and Startups

by Erika BrodnockJohannes Lenhard

When it comes to who gets funded, it matters who has the funds.

Venture capital has been overlooking profitable businesses and talented founders for too long, at the cost of innovation and ideas that could serve the needs of many more people. The industry’s lack of diversity and inclusion has not only cost it in moral standing—it’s costing hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Better Venture is a first-of-its-kind guide to diversity and inclusion in venture capital—who funds, who gets funded, why that needs to change, and how to make it happen.

In this collection of stories, interviews, statistics, and research, we set out to answer four questions:

  1. Why has the industry been so slow to change? We’ll map the economic origins and history of venture capital through a diversity lens, to understand how the economics of VC has contributed to the glacial pace of diversifying the industry.
  2. What barriers are founders and investors facing now? In the second part of this book, we’ll draw on contributions from investors, operators, founders, and journalists. Personal stories and narratives will help us catalogue the barriers for founders seeking funding, and for investors seeking entry and influence in the industry.
  3. Can diversity really lead to higher returns? Building on the conclusions from Part I and the personal stories in Part 2, we’ll bring in new research and data to help us understand how betting on underrepresented founders and investors is really the better venture. Why does diversifying the industry matter, and to whom? How is it linked to financial performance and better decision making? How will it improve innovation across industries?
  4. What can be done now? Drawing again on a range of contribution from investors and founders, as well as research on profitability, we’ll provide a comprehensive overview of cost effective and evidence-based interventions, tools, and solutions to making the VC and startup worlds more diverse and inclusive—and result in higher returns. These are your concrete steps to fulfill the vision of a more diverse, inclusive, equitable, and profitable ecosystem.

This stuff is tough, and no blog post is going to give the industry the deep understanding and vision it needs to make a change. That’s why we came together to write this book and are bringing in so many voices to build out the picture of what is and what could be.

It’s time we all got better.

Many investors, founders, and activists are contributing to the creation of this book. Thank you to Charles Hudson (Precursor VC); Nancy Pfund (Double Bottom Line Partners); Theresia Gouw (Acrew Capital); Sonja Perkins (The Perkins Fund); Bindi Karia (Draper Esprit; Independent); Claire Diaz-Ortiz (Magma Partners); Maren Bannon (January Ventures); Elizabeth Yin (Hustle Fund); June Angelides (Samos VC); Check Warner (Diversity.VC; Ada Ventures); Sophia Bendz (Cherry Ventures); Suranga Chandratillake (Balderton); Ian Connatty (British Patient Capital); Roxanne Varza (Station F); Janneke Niessen (Capital T); Eva de Mol (Capital T); Laura Huang (Harvard Business School); Pam Kostka (Allraise); Eghosa Omoigui (Echo VC); Paula Groves (Impact X Capital); Gurpreet Manku (BVCA); Tom Wehmeier (Atomico); and Grace Lordan (London School of Economics).

Rachel JepsenEditor

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About the Authors

Erika Brodnock
Erika Brodnock is a multi-award winning serial entrepreneur, philanthropist, MBA, Research Fellow at King’s College London, and PhD Candidate at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Through her work at the intersection of technology and wellbeing, Erika specializes in building products and services that disrupt outdated systems. Erika founded Karisma Kidz, and is co-founder at Extend Ventures, where she is leading pioneering research that aims to democratize access to venture finance for ethnically diverse entrepreneurs.
Johannes Lenhard
Johannes Lenhard, PhD is Centre Coordinator of the Max Planck Cambridge Centre for Ethics, Economy, and Social Change at the University of Cambridge. He has spent the last three years researching the ‘ethics of venture capital’ with fieldwork in Berlin, London, San Francisco, and New York. His research has been published in leading academic journals and he regularly contributes to the journalistic outlets Prospect, TechCrunch, Vestoj, Aeon, Tribune, The Conversation, and Crunchbase.
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