In the tech ecosystem, everyone is talking about founder diversity. It is a complex and challenging issue that highlights the inequality that many face. And 2020 has been a year of reckoning. With the Black Lives Matter movement, conversations around diversity in leadership and across sectors have become pressing. To-date, 70% of founders from Highline Beta’s portfolio identify as minorities. But we are committed to doing more.
Recently, we shared our intent to expand our Venture Studio and provided more information on how the model works. Specifically, we launched a page on our site dedicated to recruiting the right founders for the model. A big part of recruiting the right founders for our Venture Studio is diversity.
In October, Pitchbook published a report on the drop in VC funding for female founders. In fact, according to their data, venture funding for female founders hit its lowest quarterly total (Q3) in three years. In contrast, 2019 was the best year ever for venture investment into female-led startups, so the reversal is critical and serious.
Highline Beta has always been committed to founder and funder diversity. We acquired Female Funders in 2017, and helped launch Future Capital in 2020. Both of these initiatives are dedicated to educating and empowering diverse investors. And today we focus our attention on increasing founder diversity.
With that in mind, we are targeting 50% female founder representation through our Venture Studio.
Our goal is for half of the startups spun-out from our Venture Studio to be led by women. We realize there are diversity challenges in tech beyond gender, and we will continue to support all forms of diversity in our portfolios, but we felt as if this was a tangible next step worth achieving. To get there, we are going to invest more into founder outreach–identifying and sourcing female founders that we believe will be a great fit for our Venture Studio.
We’re starting this off by launching a Highline Beta Venture Studio Information Session for Female Founders.
This will be a 1-hour session led by Lauren Robinson, General Partner in the Highline Beta Fund, and members of our Venture Studio team. The session will be held on November 25 at 1pm EST. The webinar will be completely anonymous (you will not have to share your identity with any other participants, although the Highline Beta team will know.) We’re looking to meet with women entrepreneurs, as well as entrepreneurially-minded women that might not have started a company yet. If you don’t fit into either category, that’s OK, but our focus is on introducing the Venture Studio model to people that may be a fit.
To sign up for the session, visit the event page.