Why do I care what investors look like or what background they have?
In 2010 I left my cozy senior management job and my regular salary to form my own business. I had no financial backup plan. No bank of mum and dad. I'd worked hard since graduation to gain some form of financial stability and now I had given that up.
Essentially I was attempting to disrupt the assistive technology market where similar "medical devices" had cost between £5-10k and with the touchscreen and low cost of an iPad we could deliver a device and software for less than £500.
When I went out to pitch to raise investment I faced questions such as why can't these people just pick up a pencil, do children actually use sign language who are not deaf? And also do you plan on having children anytime soon?
Very few investors understood my market or me
Very few investors had an understanding of the special needs market, had little patience for working class entrepreneurs who lacked the network to raise friends and fools rounds and struggled to believe that someone of the female gender could have a sound understanding of tech product development.
I was very fortunate to eventually find women and men that invested in me as angels who had family members or personal experience of special needs and then an impact VC (who I now work for). But boy was it hard to find them. We need more people out there like those that have supported me - they were a very diverse bunch.
Changes are happening
I can see the lower ranks of VC changing with new diversity initiatives and this is fantastic but I want to equip these new investors to become key decision makers in their organisations so that critical decisions are representative of the balanced and fair society we wish to see in this world.
In venture capital we need to source outstanding entrepreneurs and I believe we keep using the same hunting grounds - the hidden gems could be in a broader network.
If you work in VC and any of this resonates with you whatever your background, culture, gender etc then join us!