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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 both ff Venture Capital and HOF Capital include as founders far more women and underrepresented ethnic backgrounds than industry norms.  Both firms are members of MovingForward.
  • 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 venture capitalists are investing in international startups and Diversity, why international startups love NY, and why NY VCs love international startups.  At HBS Angels, we hold periodic pitch nights focused on companies from Israel, Canada, etc.  
  • HBS Angels partnership programs. As Chair of Harvard Business School Alumni Angels of Greater New York, I co-founded the Venture Capital Access Program, which helps 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. I organized the first annual MENA Tech Summit joint between HBSAANY, HOF Capital, ABANA, and Harvard Arab Alumni Association.
  • Angel education.  At HBS Alumni Angels, we evolved into an educational organization, holding investor education events in New Jersey, NY, Florida, Connecticut, Toronto, and San Francisco, as well as many webinars.  Here’s an example: Angel Investing 101.   Our goal is to diversify and expand our member base, which correlates with a more diverse portfolio.
  • Board training.  Many corporate boards are seeking to diversify, but don’t know enough non-traditional candidates, and vice versa.  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.

I write periodically about diversity on my blog.