I am a huge believer in investing in diverse groups to create impact.
So is brilliant venture capitalist Tim Draper.
I had an opportunity to catch up with Tim Draper at a lunch on impact investing in women held by Elizabeth Galbut and SoGal Ventures and am sharing his thoughts with you on the importance and positive impact of investing in strong female founders.
1) Why are you particularly interested in investing in women?
There are fewer women entrepreneurs, so they are more unique, and I have had some real success investing in women: Theranos, Laurel & Wolf, Ariat Boots, just to name a few.
2) How do you feel diversity improves you bottom line investment returns?
For every company, there is a diverse customer base, so the companies themselves should be made up of diverse employees so that they can understand more about their customers.
3) Please describe one particularly successful female founder from your portfolio
Surbhi Sarna, Founder of nVision Medical, a medical device company dedicated to filling the void in female health-related innovation. The device was recently granted FDA approval, and is the only device approved by the FDA for gathering any type of sample from the fallopian tube.
Sarna is alumni of Draper University's Winter 2014 class. Sarna went on to raise $4.5 million from Catalyst Health Ventures, Draper Associates, and Astia.
In addition, Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos is very unique. Great enthusiasm, highly focused on her mission and a good heart. She is very sensitive to her brand. She wears the same outfit every day. Has great attention to the detail around her product. She is currently being attacked from all directions, so she must be on to something.
4) How is Draper University creating opportunities for women?
Draper University aims to support and empower women entrepreneurs in each cohort. DU's Spring 2016 class included 45% females, and we actively strive to increase this number.
We offer various scholarship opportunities for women. Our partner scholarships include the Meera Kaul Foundation ($5k for a female University graduate with a technical background), WomenWhoCode (Full Scholarship for WomenWhoCode members), and SoGal ($2k for members of the SoGal community)
Tim Draper hosts an annual competition for collegiate women entrepreneurs to serve this vision at Smith College. The competition provides $25k total prize money, and scholarship to Draper University. This pastMonday (April 18, 2016), was the 4th annual competition.
We also aim to increase the representation of women in founder roles, by inviting them to contribute to our curriculum and speak during our program. Some previous speakers include Jessica Scorpio of Getaround, Michelle Phan of Ipsy, Emily Drabant Conley (VP of Business Development) of 23andMe.
We started with 18% of our applications coming from women. But we have had such great results with women who go through our program that word has spread. Our most recent class is 45% women. We create opportunities for women to create their own jobs, their own companies. They can build their own ceilings. Women are outstanding entrepreneurs when given a chance, and the Draper University training is that chance.