Who has access to the opportunities of venture funding?

A comprehensive guide to diversity and inclusion in venture capital—who funds, who gets funded, and how the industry can change. With history, research, and over 40 interviews with investors and founders that explore the moral and financial needs for a more diverse, equitable, and profitable funding system.

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Length: 580 pages
Edition: e1.0.2
Last Updated: 2023-02-11
Language: English
ISBN (Holloway.com):
ISBN (print):
Better Venture is a fantastically comprehensive guide to the critical subject of inclusion in venture capital, packed full of practical advice from leaders in the field.Check Warner(Ada Ventures)

Better Venture

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

by Erika BrodnockJohannes Lenhard

Better Venture is a first-of-its-kind guide to diversity and inclusion in startups and venture capital—who funds, who gets funded, and how the industry can change.

The industry’s lack of diversity and inclusion not only compromises moral standing—it means overlooking profitable businesses and talented founders. That costs hundreds of millions of dollars a year, and neglects ideas that could serve the needs of many more people.

In this collection of interviews, stories, and research, we use the momentum that has been building in recent years to expand the conversation about DEI, venture capital, and the startup ecosystem, and to inspire more concrete action.


  • 43 in-depth conversations with leading investors, entrepreneurs, and researchers, making it one of the most comprehensive and diverse sets of perspectives on the startup ecosystem ever assembled in one place.

  • An economic history of venture capital through a diversity lens.

  • On-the-ground stories from founders and VCs that explore ways to create a more diverse, inclusive, equitable, and profitable venture ecosystem.

No blog post can give the deep understanding and vision needed to address the complexity of the topic.

That’s why we came together to write this book and are bringing in so many voices to clarify the picture of what is and what could be.

Over the course of two years of research and discussion with almost 100 experts, we set out to answer four questions:

  1. Why has the industry been so slow to change? We map the economic origins and history of venture capital 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? We draw on contributions from investors, operators, founders, and journalists to help catalog the barriers for founders seeking funding, and for investors seeking entry and influence in the industry.
  3. Can diversity really lead to higher returns? We 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 for positive change? We discuss cost effective and evidence-based interventions, tools, and solutions that can help to make the VC and startup worlds more diverse and inclusive—and result in higher returns.

We hope this book and the conversations it contains help fulfill the vision of a more diverse, inclusive, and profitable ecosystem.

It’s time venture got better.

Change—when it comes to diversity and inclusion in VC and startups—hasn’t come quickly enough. This comprehensive guide has great concrete examples and best practices that are illuminating and can hopefully affect change.Elizabeth Yin(Hustle Fund)

Table of Contents

Part I
History of Venture I: The East India Company
History of Venture II: Slavery and America’s Industrial Rise
Conversations: Venture’s History
Part II
Conversations: Diverse Perspectives in Tech
Conversations: Overlooked Barriers
Part III
Best Practices
Conversations: VCs Who Are Doing Things Differently
Conversations: Rethinking the Ecosystem
Conversations: The Power of LPs and Policy Makers
Part IV
New Ideas
Conversations: Beyond Diversity to Inclusion
Conversations: Building New Flywheels
Conversations: Supporting Different Kinds of Founders
Conversations: Finding Allyship in Unexpected Places
Better Venture is the definitive guide on DEI in VC—a must read with practical tips for making changes in the industry.Maren Bannon(January Ventures)

Researched, written, and edited by experts.

Written by practitioners. Edited by professionals.

Erika Brodnock (London School of Economics, Kinhub)
Johannes Lenhard (University of Cambridge, VentureESG)
Maya Ackerman (WaveAI, Santa Clara University)
June Angelides (Samos Investments)
Maren Bannon (January Ventures)
Kristina Barger (Cognitive and behavioral psychologist and coach)
Sophia Bendz (Cherry Ventures, formerly Atomico)
Kat Borlongan (Contentsquare, formerly La French Tech)
Dalana Brand (formerly Twitter)
Suranga Chandratillake (Balderton Capital)
Ian Connatty (British Patient Capital)
Mckeever “Mac” Conwell (RareBreed Ventures)
Nicola Corzine (Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center)
Matthew De Jesus (Talis Capital)
Claire Díaz-Ortiz (VC3 DAO, angel investor)
Nick Draper (University College London)
Chuck Eesley (Stanford University)
Marie Ekland (2050)
Leslie Feinzaig (Graham & Walker, Female Founders Alliance)
Suzanne Gauron (Goldman Sachs)
Anne Glover (Amadeus Capital Partners)
Theresia Gouw (Acrew Capital, formerly Accel)
Bibi Groot (Fair HQ)
Paula Groves (Impact X Capital)
Jeff Harbach (Kauffmann Fellows)
Darya Henig Shaked (WeAct Ventures)
Øyvind Henriksen (Checkfirst, formerly Poq)
Maya Horgan Famodu (Ingressive Capital)
William Hsu (Mucker Capital)
Laura Huang (Harvard Business School)
Charles Hudson (Precursor Ventures)
Jolina Hukemann (Student)
Terry Irwin (Transition Design Institute, Carnegie Mellon University)
Nandini Jammi (Check My Ads, formerly Sleeping Giants)
Allan Jones (Bambee)
Dahlia Joseph (Village Capital)
Freada Kapor Klein (Level Playing Field Institute)
Mitch Kapor (Kapor Capital, Kapor Center)
Bindi Karia (Molten Ventures, formerly Silicon Valley Bank)
Eddie Kim (Gusto)
Kesava Kirupa Dinakaran (Luminai)
Pam Kostka (formerly All Raise)
Evgeni Kouris (New Mittelstand)
Emma Lawton (More Human)
Peter Lenke (Twitter)
Amy Lewin (Sifted)
Kevin Liu (Techstars)
Grace Lordan (London School of Economics, The Inclusion Initiative)
John Lynn (Cela)
Gurpreet Manku (British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association)
Heather Matranga (Village Capital)
Manan Mehta (Unshackled Ventures)
Thea Messel (Unconventional Ventures)
Gesa Miczaika (Auxxo Female Catalyst Fund, German Startups Association)
Ann Miura-Ko (Floodgate)
Hadiyah Mujhid (HBCUvc)
Diana Noble (Kirkos Partners, formerly CDC Group)
Steve O’Hear (Zapp, formerly TechCrunch)
Eghosa Omoigui (EchoVC Partners)
Aunnie Patton Power (Impact Finance Pro, University of Oxford)
Sonja Perkins (Project Glimmer, Broadway Angels)
Nancy Pfund (DBL Partners)
Kate Pljaskovova (Fair HQ)
Ines Schiller (Vyld)
Astrid Scholz (Armillaria, Zebras Unite)
Lisa Shu (formerly Newton Venture Program)
Camilla Sievers (Qi Health, Female Founders)
Anna Skoglund (Goldman Sachs)
Monica Spencer (formerly Mellon Foundation)
Bianca St. Louis (Black Innovation Alliance)
Gary Stewart (Techstars, FounderTribes)
Savitri Tan (Isomer Capital)
Lolita Taub (Ganas Ventures, Operator Collective)
Gené Teare (Crunchbase)
Lorenzo Thione (Gaingels, StartOut)
Katja Toropainen (Inklusiiv)
Roxanne Varza (Station F, Sequoia Capital)
Monique Villa (Launch Tennessee, formerly Mucker Capital)
Check Warner (Ada Ventures, formerly Diversity VC)
Tom Wehmeier (Atomico)
Elizabeth Yin (Hustle Fund)
Ben Younkman (Village Capital)
Mara Zepeda (Zebras Unite)
Ed Zimmerman (Lowenstein Sandler, First Close Partners)
Rachel JepsenEditor
Carolyn TurgeonEditor
Eana MengTranscription
Nathaniel HemmingerProduction
Better Ventures is one of the best pieces I’ve read on diversity in VC and startups. For a subject with so much discourse, this is the most comprehensive analysis of where we’ve been and where the industry is going.Natalie Riso(LTSE)
About the Authors
Erika Brodnock
London School of Economics, Kinhub
Erika Brodnock is a multi-award winning serial entrepreneur and philanthropist. Following her MBA, she was Research Fellow at King’s College London, and is currently finishing a PhD 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 is co-founder of Kinhub (formerly Kami), an employee wellbeing platform focused on enhancing equity and inclusion in the future of work. Erika also co-founded Extend Ventures, where she leads research efforts that aim to democratize access to venture finance for diverse entrepreneurs.
Johannes Lenhard
University of Cambridge, VentureESG
Johannes Lenhard is a researcher and writer based in London. Following his PhD at Cambridge, he has spent the last three years researching the ethics of venture capital between Europe and the US during his postdoc. His first book, “Making Better Lives”—on homeless people’s survival in Paris—was published earlier this year. He regularly contributes to journalistic outlets, such as Prospect, TechCrunch, Vestoj, Aeon, Tribune, The Conversation, and Sifted. Most recently, he is the co-founder and co-director of VentureESG.
Better Venture is a rigorously-researched book that provides actionable steps toward DEI in the venture capital industry - a must-read for all investors who want to move beyond intention and enact change.Banu Ozkazanc-Pan, Ph.D.(Professor and Director of the Venture Capital Inclusion Lab, Brown University)

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