Diversity

I have a longstanding interest in diversity of all kinds, which started when I learned about the value of structural holes in social networks.  As an investor, I strictly invest based on financial returns, but that said I think I maximize returns by proactively seeking out diversity:

  • Underrepresented founders.  The portfolios of all of the firms where I’ve worked (Coolwater, ff Venture Capital, HOF Capital, HBS Alumni Angels of NY) back as founders far more women, African-American, Latino, and other underrepresented ethnic backgrounds than is the norm for the venture capital industry. 
  • International founders.  I am particularly interested in investing in companies with international roots, including immigrant founders and engineering based outside of the US.  For more on this, see Why VCs are investing in international startups and Why international startups love NY.  HBS Alumni Angels of NY holds periodic pitch nights and other events focused on companies from specific regions and individuals from specific underrepresented backgrounds, e.g., Israel, Canada, Middle East and North Africa, etc. 
  • HBS Angels partnership programs. As Founder and former Chair of Harvard Business School Alumni Angels of Greater New York, I co-founded the Venture Capital Access Program as a JV with the National Association of Investment Companies. We help women and diverse entrepreneurs raise early-stage capital from our members. HBS Angels organizes periodic pitch nights geared to women, African-American, Latino, Arab, and LBGT entrepreneurs, joint with the relevant HBS and Harvard affinity groups.  This helps create diversified deal flow and closed investments. In April 2017, I also organized the first annual MENA Tech Summit joint between Harvard Arab Alumni Association, ABANA, HBS Alumni Angels NY, and HOF Capital.  
  • Angel education.  We evolved HBS Alumni Angels of NY into an educational organization, holding Angel 101 investor education events in New Jersey, NY, Florida, Connecticut, Toronto, and San Francisco, as well as many webinars. Our goal was to diversify and expand our member base, which increased our member diversity and consequently our portfolio company management diversity.
  • Board training.  Many corporate boards are seeking to diversify, but don’t know enough non-traditional candidates.  I developed a training for executives on How to Work with Private Equity and Venture Capital Funds, which helps leaders of all backgrounds grow into executive roles or board seats at private equity and VC-backed companies.  This is particularly relevant for people from underrepresented backgrounds who are seeking to join boards and are not networked in the right circles.
  • Revenue-share VC.  I am happy to invest via a Revenue-Based Finance structure.  Revenue-Based Finance investors disproportionately invest in women & underrepresented founders.

I’ve published some research on diversity: