Thrive Global

06.17.2019

Closing the VC Gender Gap, with Jon Avidor and Tracy Warren

No CEO or founder should have to lead with “I’m female” — focus on the business, the opportunity and commit to maintaining the same expectation of return that other (male-led) ventures aspire to.

As part of my series “closing the VC gender gap”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tracy Warren, co-founder and General Partner of Astarte Ventures, the first fund focused on women’s and children’s health and wellbeing. Tracy has been an early stage venture and angel investor for the past 18 years. Most recently, she announced the Series A closing for Astarte Medical, her third start-up.

Thank you so much for joining us, let’s jump right in. According to this article in Fortune, only 2.2% of VC dollars went to women in 2018. Can you share with our readers what you or your firm is doing to help close the VC gender gap?

To close the gender gap investors have to be purposeful in their intention and set specific personal and fund goals for sourcing and evaluating quality deal flow from a diverse network. For Astarte Ventures, we are actively engaged with groups that coach women entrepreneurs, such as Springboard Enterprises, as well and network with angel groups that focus on investing in women, such as Astia. By diversifying our pipeline, we see more diversity in our CEOs and investment opportunities.

Can you recommend 5 things that need to be done on a broader societal level to close the VC gender gap, and explain?

There needs to be “layered accountability” for closing the gender gap. Studies have shown that people perform according to metrics and goals set for them.

In this case, limited partners, who deploy capital into venture firms need to set standards for diversity and inclusion with specific ratios and allocations accordingly.

At the venture fund level, the partnership should have proactive outreach to bring in female-founded and led companies and afford training where necessary to address inherent biases. A fund and its partners have to drive increased risk tolerance — because there is so little funding that has historically gone to women founders and executives, many outstanding female executives remain “unproven”, which exacerbates the problem as VCs tend to back serial entrepreneurs whom they know. Being deliberate about new CEOs and female and minority candidates can help break the chain.

I believe entrepreneurs own a piece of this accountability as well. No CEO or founder should have to lead with “I’m female” — focus on the business, the opportunity and commit to maintaining the same expectation of return that other (male-led) ventures aspire to. Investors want to make money; tell the story and they’ll follow your dream.

To read the full Thrive Global interview, click here.