Along with our friends at Alpha Edison, Flybridge and XFactor are excited to have helped create the #StartWithEight initiative. #StartWithEight is a simple commitment – take meetings with 8 women from outside your networks in the month of March – with an ambitious goal – to build parity across the venture ecosystem.
On some dimensions the idea that meeting with eight women outside your network could change the diversity of the venture ecosystem seems crazy, but my personal story would suggest it’s not. For me, Eight led to 25,000 which led back to Eight, which led to more than 60% and over 700, which has resulted to date in 17.
I #StartedWithEight in November of 2016 when I joined up with Anna Palmer, the Co-Founder and CEO of Fashion Project, and more recently, Wondermile, my partner Kate Castle and 6 other women to launch SuitUp, a grassroots organization focused on identifying concrete solutions to issues women confront in their communities. We built a network of over 25,000 women and those conversations resulted in a 100 Day Plan for Women, but also brought into sharp relief for me just how screwed up the funding dynamics are in the venture ecosystem.
So those 25,000 led to another Eight, when Anna, Kate and I, in partnership with the entire Flybridge team, took an idea from the 100 Day Plan for Women and created XFactor Ventures with an amazing team of eight other partners, all of whom are female founders of venture backed companies. Notably – more than half of the XFactor team were not women “in our network” prior to starting XFactor.
One of the questions I somewhat naively wondered about prior to launching XFactor was would we see enough investment opportunities, as prior to the launch female founders made up only 10% of my personal “opportunity flow”, a fact I typically rationalized to being a result of my primary investment focus on B2B software companies. But as we noted in our #StartWithEight medium post, “Startup land is a network-driven place”, and changing your network can have powerful results.
For me the powerful results of #StartingWithEight are an “opportunity flow” that has transformed from 90/10 male/female to more than 60% female, well over 700 new investment opportunities I would not likely have seen otherwise, and 17 new investments.
For everyone joining #StartWithEight this month, thank you for your support and commitment. It has been amazing to see our friends in the venture community sign onto this initiative including 8VC, Accomplice, Bain Capital Ventures, Cosimo Ventures, First Star Ventures, G20 Ventures, Material Impact, New England Venture Capital Association, Pillar, Rethink Education, Rethink Impact, TenOneTen, Tectonic Ventures, Canaan Partners, Fika Ventures, Foundry Group , Genuine VC, Glasswing Ventures, Brilliant Ventures and The Engine. You never know where it will take you, but it will be someplace good, someplace more diverse, and through that diversity, more effective. If you are interested in adding your firm or company’s voice as a committed signatory to #StartWithEight, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As for us, we are #NotStoppingWithEight and feel like we are just getting started. So we welcome more suggestions for amazing founders, joiners, advisors, board members, investors and potential investment partners from your networks with whom we should meet.