Would I invest in a start-up with a woman as CEO? You bet I would. I’ve done it six times throughand likely to do it again.
The odds of encountering two identical startups (with the exception that one is led by a female CEO and the other by a male CEO) is very slim.
However, hypothetically, if I encountered two identical startups with the exception of the gender of the CEO, with exactly the same chance of success, at exactly the same time, with exactly the same investment terms and conditions, and had equal opportunity to invest in either, there would still be something about the startups that would tip my decision in favour of one over the other. Assuming I got along with both CEOs and enjoyed working with either of them equally, but the number of women-led ventures receiving venture investment was still disproportionately less than their male counterparts, I would probably invest in the venture led by a female CEO.
I don’t invest in women-led ventures just because they are led by women. At a very high level, I’m investing in ventures where I believe we stand a chance of getting our money back within a timeframe we’re willing to wait, getting a return on capital (including financial and impact returns), and investing in someone we trust.
Currently, I am seeing ventures that are seizing interesting opportunities or tackling challenges in the process and they tend to be led by female CEOs. I like the business culture they are embedding within their ventures at an early stage. I generally like how they are making decisions in the face of change and uncertainty.
I’ve passed on opportunities to invest in ventures where I didn’t trust the CEO or felt the relationship lacked alignment or the problem or solution presented wasn’t compelling – these were led by women and men.
Being a woman CEO doesn’t automatically make a venture an interesting investment opportunity, but there arefor investing with a gender lens. When women-led ventures are underrepresented in terms of securing venture investment, I will have the propensity to direct investment dollars towards high potential ventures led by women.
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