Gradually I came to realize that Silicon Valley, was, well, not that different from Virginia after all. Virginia was undoubtedly more conservative, but somehow Virginia had an excuse - it was Virginia, after all, a state founded by stodgy old men in powdered wigs. I expected better of California.
Take the venture-capital industry. I've read plenty of accounts of sexism and sexual harassment in the venture capital world. Like many, I want to believe they are one-offs - that for the most part VCs are unbiased investors thoughtfully nurturing the management teams and businesses they believe in. But last week I was discouraged to read yet another account of a female CEO struggling to raise venture funding in the valley. This narrative was published in Forbes anonymously. At what point does an anomaly become a trend?
As a marketer, I see an opportunity here. Women entrepreneurs are tired of dealing with male venture capitalists whose manners remain stuck in the 1950's. It seems to me that any any VC firm hoping to capitalize on the next-generation ideas and management talent possessed by female entrepreneurs should simply publish and enforce a Code of Ethics. That way women would be assured of harassment-free negotiations and VC firms would have their pick of the most disruptive advancements originating from female founders.
As the writer of the Forbes article attests, there are already female-focused venture firms. She says, "If I chose to solely approach women investors about my business, I would be dramatically reducing our funding options." Would she? Really? Because even that perspective seems dated. We have self-made women billionaires now! Maybe what we need is way more female-focused VCs - enough to put pressure on the traditional, male-focused firms. In fact, if every self-made female millionaire I know started her own fund, we'd really be getting somewhere.
Female entrepreneurs: are you looking for your next start-up idea? Have I got a market for you! And if you do start a venture fund for women, I want in.