Entrepreneurs across America face a significant problem: Most venture capitalists look like me.

It's true.

Your typical venture capital guy has a larger-than-average head.

Your typical venture capital guy is more likely to carry the shame of a secret barbed wire tattoo around his bicep.

(It was the '90s. Don't mock. Whatever that decade's flaws were, we weren't subjected to Bette Midler and Donald Trump fighting over who's the bigger psycho.)

But big heads and barbed wire tattoos aren't the most glaring issue with your typical venture capital guy.

The biggest problem with your typical venture capital guy is that he is, well ... a guy.

Despite some progress, venture capital remains a field dominated by men.

According to the most recent data, in the United States:

  • 2.2 percent of venture capital goes to female founders.
  • 11 percent of venture capitalists are women.
  • 12 percent of venture capital goes to companies with a female on the founding team.
  • 71 percent of venture capital firms have no female partners.

So, what can be done?

For starters, funders should look outside of California, New York, and Massachusetts. Those three states receive 75 percent of all venture capital. This narrow focus means good ideas and good female founders are overlooked in part because of simple geography.

A few years ago, my wife left her job as a stay-at-home parent to run an innovation district outside of St. Louis. The winner of the district's first demo day was Babyation, a startup that manufactures a system that makes pumping breast milk easier and more discreet.

That's a real thing.

WeWork?

Not a real thing.

If VCs take more time searching outside of the coasts looking for the real thing, they will find more women.

Women found companies that do important things. Women start companies that develop sustainable ways to feed the planet. Women start companies that make health care more efficient and effective.

That's just what women do.

"Women often start companies specifically to solve problems they face in their everyday lives," said Rebecca A. Styn, vice president of ventures for the Erie Innovation District in Erie, Pennsylvania. "While they may never grab headlines, startups that solve real, actual problems do not have to try and fool the VC community. Women are solving real problems far more often than VC data would lead us to believe."

This is not a women's issue. This is an everyone issue.  Economic productivity in America has stagnated for decades.

That's the bad news.

The good news?

There are at least 165 million women in America.  

Whether by design or by accident, venture capital has evolved in such a way that it appears to believe all good ideas come from men.

That isn't even true in my own house.

(Let's just say it wasn't my wife's idea for my brother and me to conduct a traditional duel using Roman candles.)

I have met Samantha Rudolph, the founder of Babyation. I have met Rebecca A. Styn. I've known my wife for 16 years. They all have normal-size heads full of world-changing ideas. They--and millions of other female entrepreneurs--are waiting to take America's economy into a new era of productivity.

When that happens, we will all be better off. 

Published on: Oct 30, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.