Our Diversity Numbers —

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Essays

After seeing StartupLJackson’s tweet today, I was inspired to look inward and take stock of how we are performing today at Collaborative Fund on diversity. By virtue of being a vocal and relatively politically active young black man, I spend a lot of my time and energy thinking about diversity, social justice, and racial equality; when it comes to my day-by-day, it is constantly humming in the back of my mind, but I shy away from getting into the numbers and actually measuring it. I admit this is, at least in some part, out of fear of what I will find. But enough of all that.

This information is available on our website with some mild forensic work, so it isn’t groundbreaking, but counting, doing so publicly, and benchmarking against peers and the industry are an important piece of the puzzle, and I badly want to contribute from all fronts.

So, on women founders. According to Crunchbase, by 2014, 18% of tech startups they measured had a woman founder. Curiously, in New York the number was 21%, making it the better than all of the Bay Area. Las Vegas, at 26%, stood as the regional leader.

Collaborative Fund currently has 28.6% female-founded portfolio companies.

All of the numbers, including ours, are woefully low. Among those companies, too, the majority of them (>60%) had a male co-founder, as well. This number is also interesting, because it means that the total ratio of male founders to female founders is even more skewed, so that is the best possible number I could get us to from the data.

And let’s talk about racial diversity. For the sake of simplicity, I used Black and Latino as the relevant underrepresented minority, but I acknowledge that certain Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern, and of course Indigenous Americans are terribly underrepresented, as well. Here, the industry number is a bit harder to find, but I got to 1% (!) of VC-backed companies as having a Black or Latino founder. That is a terrifying number which makes me want to jump out the window. But such it is. Beyond that, UNH’s Center for Venture Research calculated that 8.5% of startups founded in first half of 2013 had a Black or Latino founder.

Collaborative Fund currently has 8.33% Black or Latino-founded portfolio companies.

I won’t even begin to muse on this number, because it is too frustrating.

I present these numbers without additional context, with no particular desire to justify or defend them, because they aren’t defensible nor are they justified. But I present them in the hopes that others will, too. In the hopes that we, the VC’s, can start keeping track of these things, and holding each other accountable.

At Collaborative Fund, our mission is to invest in companies that help push the world forward, impact culture in a positive way, and reflect our love for one another. Diversity is a critical component of that, and I am motivated to do more.

So I’ll conclude with this: if you’re working on a startup that fits our mission, has a cool brand, and you want to help us improve these numbers: email me today.

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