Blog Posts

Woeful Funding Stats for Women Entrepreneurs

The Boston Globe recently published funding stats women entrepreneurs for 2016.  It shows how much work we have to do to grow support for women in entrepreneurship.

In 2016, only 9 percent of the $71.7 billion in US venture capital funding went to companies with female founders, according to data prepared for The Boston Globe by the research firm PitchBook.

That was down from 13 percent in 2015, which had been the highest level in years.  The numbers in Boston are marginally better: Last year, about 13 percent of Boston-area VC money went to firms with at least one woman founder, according to PitchBook data, though that, too, was a decline, from 18 percent in 2015.

I wished they had included stats around minority founders as well. Note that this isn't just for companies with a founding team comprised entirely of women.  This is for founding teams that include any women at all. I think it's going to be increasingly clear over time that companies have to look like their target audience / customers if they are going to be successful.  There is a sea change coming in the demographics of the U.S. specfically, and it's going to create new opportunities that more diverse founding teams, and companies, should be better positioned to take advantage of. But it's going to require a lot of work to put in place the support structures from childhood through college and through the startup eco-system to support increased diversity.

The Great Divide

There is an interesting piece in the NYT today about the different political views of David Horowitz and his son Ben, the well known venture investor from Andreessen Horowitz.  It is a look at the divide not just between this family, but between us as a country.  One quote stands out for me, and I've seen this stated before.

The core identity of most people was community, family and religion. But as these other parts of society withered, politics filled the void.
I think this gets to the crux of a lot of what has led to an increase in vitrol and distrust of the 'other'.  We don't have community anymore.  There is no common language, that ties us together.  And so we retreat to our homes, stare out our chose media sources, and shout at the internet. I'm not sure how to solve this problem.  I only see it getting worse.  But I don't know that we get to a better place as a country without figuring this out.

Networking and Deliberate Practice

First Round Capital has a terrific newsletter, First Round Review. If you don't get it, you should go here and subscribe. They constantly publish great pieces on entrepreneurship, managing your career and building a great business. I've read a lot of networking articles over the years. But I was really drawn into one of their recent posts, How To Become Insanely Well Connected. There is a lot of great info in this piece, but one bit of advice really struck me regarding building my dream contact list.

What do you want your network to look like, and what are you trying to achieve?  If you know who your top 5 dream contacts are and what you want to talk to them about, you’ll be ready when you run into someone who knows them. Likewise, it’s good to have a forcing function for keeping those connections healthy — consider creating a rolling reminder to get in touch.
It made me realize that my network was developing in an ad hoc way.  One good meeting would lead to an intro to someone else, and that meeting might lead me to someone else of interest.  But it had been a long time since I had sat down, thought deliberately about how I wanted my network to grow, and what new experiences and relationships would be most relevant to how I'm thinking about the future.   I realized that while my interest in public policy is growing, and as I tried to think through how I could make a great impact in this area, my personal network has almost no one with this kind of experience.   And that brought me back to the work of Anders Ericsson in the area of deliberate practice.  If you're not familiar with Anders' work, this Freakonomics podcast interview is a good place to start. It reminded me that if you want to make progress in any particular area, you have to have a deliberate effort around making it happen.  And as it relates to building and expanding my network in new directions, I have some work to do.

An Opportunity on Health Care

The failure of the Republicans in the Senate to repeal key parts of Obamacare is an opportunity to start to change the debate on health care. To stop demonizing providing coverage for those that need it, and to see the opportunities that exist when we take away the fear of a lack of coverage.  David Frum has a terrific piece in the Atlantic, The Republican Waterloo.  A key sentence for me is: "They’ll find that they have removed one of the most important barriers to entrepreneurship, because people with bright ideas will fear less to quit the jobs through which they get their health care. " The number of new business start ups in America continue to fall. I have to believe that financial insecurity tied to concerns around health care is playing a part in this trend.   As the ACA continues to climb in the polls, it's clear that people want government to play a role in providing health care. Let's hope Congress gets the message. 

Just getting things going here

If you've found this blog, and all that you see is this sad and lonely post, you're a bit early.  We're still getting set up, but we'll be rolling soon.  Stay tuned.

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