TEDx PDX Special Considerations for navigating the venture industry
Special Considerations For (Women) Navigating the Venture Industry
Special Considerations For (Women) Navigating the Venture Industry• Intro to Portland Ten• Disclaimer• Venture Industry Basics• Performance Standards & Tips for Success• Special Issues for Women
Intro: Portland TenEntrepreneur development organization with the mission to get 10 Portlandcompanies to $1MM within 18 months.40 alumni, 6 cycles of 2 bootcamps (Portland Ten, Six Week Sprint), 25Community Partners & Sponsors , 5 advisors, 5 staff, 10 volunteers, startedFeb 2009.Profile client: ShopIgniter, $3MM of venture capital within 6 months ofgraduating, exceeded $1MM in revenue within 12 months. Initial team of 3,now 18+. 2 additional companies on track to hit $1MM within 6 months.Partners with PDC, NedSpace, OEN, Voyager Capital, Willamette University,Mercy Corps NW, Perkins & Company, Davis, Wright Tremaine, Silicon ValleyBank, Startup Weekend, Civic Apps, FundingUniverse, and many more.Grant by Portland Development Commission: $35,000, May 2010.
Intro: Carolynn DuncanFounded Portland Ten to create 10 high-growth startups in thestate of Oregon, the first of which just reached $1M in revenue(ShopIgniter).Managed 40+ Portland startups in the past 18 months, met &advised more than 300 startups in the tech, startup, &angel/venture capital networks in Seattle, Portland, southeastIdaho, and Salt Lake City region in the past 5 years.Launched, co-launched, or assisted in 5 early stage venturedevelopment projects: FundingUniverse Northwest, EPICVenture Fund-- a Draper Fischer Jurvetsen affiliate fund, EasternIdaho Entrepreneurial Center in partnership with Idaho NationalLaboratory, Hundred Dollar Business, Provo Labs Seed Fund.
Our Team1 entrepreneur, 3 MBAs, 1 angel, 2 VCs, and 2 economic dev specialists
What We DoWe find and develop high performance entrepreneursand startup teams in the $0 to $1,000,000 revenue range.• High growth ventures: (have potential to raise angel or venture capital, hit $20MM-$100MM)• Lifestyle businesses: ($300,000-$5,000,000 annually)• Sole proprietorship/small businesses: $40,000- $300,000
When TEDx Portland asked me to speak aboutworking in the “male-dominated ventureindustry”, I thought…Is the work I do really male dominated?So when I was going through photos of PortlandTen for this presentation, here’s what I found—
DisclaimerSo from the photos, you can see that I am an“expert” at being a woman working in a highprofile, male-oriented industry… That said, for this presentation-- I’m not a feminist, Idon’t have an agenda that prefers women’s rightsover men’s or vice versa, and I may say things thatare not politically sensitive, but are true from myexperiences in VC and norms within the industry,whether right or wrong.
Disclaimer- part 2I also “speak man”, which means that Iunderstand some of the driving characteristicsand culture of men, and can communicate withthem effectively, as well as translate “man” forwomen, and hope to shed some light on thosedynamics within this industry.
As a whole, the venture industry is: Hierarchical Status-Oriented Power & Control Performance & Metrics Competition & Achievement Success & Failure Drive & Ego Here are three examples…
Startup Hierarchy High Growth Growth Lifestyle Sole Prop
Performance Standards for Venture-Fundable Startups• Be in the top 2-5% of startups• $500K-$2MM in revenue• Strong team of 3-8• 1-2 year operating history• Stable client base• Prior experience in industry, startup• Brand name clients, MBA/engineering schools, high-profile projects
Qualifications for Investment Professionals• Be in the top 2-5% of professionals• Prior experience building startup teams• Strong reputation, network, credibility• 5-10 years industry experience in tech, life science, clean teach• Significant operational or financial experience• Have been mentored, socialized, and introduced into the investment community by a respected VC firm or professional
Ultimately, no matter what your gender is, if youwant to be successful, you must be able tonavigate through those hierarchies.The best way to do this, is to focus on your ownperformance as a professional, and convert yourpotential into value add for the organizationsyou work at, and the industry overall.
Tips for Success• Find a respected mentor who will open doors for you in the industry.• Focus on your performance, network, and increasing your credibility, not the baggage or negative cultural dynamics within the industry.• Be a high performer and compete based on intellect, professionalism, and accomplishments.
Special Considerations for WomenThat said, there are some issues specific to women:• Male-female relationship dynamics• Asserting your credibility & gaining respect• Perception of gender-specific roles• Appearance• Attraction in the workplace• Management of stress & emotions• Treating yourself & others as equals– letting go of any issues with men or women
The Dark Side• Being asked, “How old are you?” “Are you old enough to be doing the work you’re doing?”• Being asked, “Do you want to get drinks?” “Do you have a boyfriend?” “Why would any startup work with you?”• Public humiliation, exclusion from social circles if/when you accidentally offend someone’s ego• Categorization into secretarial roles• Authority figures automatically speaking to men at the table first• Not knowing what to wear sometimes, not know how to blend in-- standing out…. always. Constant scrutinization of your appearance, performance, right to be in the room.
Advantages of Being A Woman• Automatic standing out in the industry• The ability to perceive & persuade, relationship strengths• A unique perspective on the industry• Detachment from ego, power, hierarchy– ability to go around it• Nurturing from other women leaders in the industry, support from men who want to see women gain traction in the industry• Learning to assert yourself across genders, power structures• Opportunities to influence policy and open doors for women in the future• Extra benefits & respect for being a minority and still “making it”
My hope for today is that you’ll have a betterunderstanding of some underlying dynamics inthe venture industry, which may be generatedby it being a largely male-oriented workplace, ormay be attributable to other reasons, such as itbeing an environment that brokers in power andstatus.And ultimately, that if you are interested inworking in or securing venture capital, that youwill be empowered to be successful in theindustry by focusing on your performance, notthe issues.
For more information, contact Carolynn Duncan Director, Portland Ten firstname.lastname@example.org www.portlandten.comwww.twitter.com/portlandten