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Some members of the Diversity VC team with speakers at our first Data Study Launch event at Silicon Valley Bank in 2017

Diversity VC was conceived nearly five years ago by a group of people who believed, passionately, that the future of technology needed to be fair, equitable and inclusive.

Back then, Diversity VC consisted of little more than a powerpoint deck, the beginnings of an event series, and an ambition to affect change.

In 2016, the conversation about diversity in venture capital had begun, but there was very little by way of action in the UK or abroad. Therefore, our first action was to organise a fireside chat about whether an organisation like Diversity VC needed to exist and, if so, what it should do.

Out of that discussion emerged several fundamental priorities:

  • We needed to better understand the state of play concerning diversity and inclusion in VC.
  • We needed to create pathways into the industry for people from any background.
  • We needed to support VC firms with tools and resources to build inclusive cultures
  • We needed to help entrepreneurs from every background raise capital.

We turned these observations into the four key pillars of activity, which have remained consistent throughout.

We’re extremely proud of what we’ve achieved over the past five years at Diversity VC, which is why, today, we have published our first Impact Report to update on our progress and key achievements.

It has been our mission, since day one, to help create a fairer and more representative venture capital industry. The Impact Report is an overview of everything that the team has accomplished since our formation.

We couldn’t have made this progress without the dedication of the many volunteers and partners that do the work on evenings and weekends behind the scenes. In particular, the core Diversity VC team: Travis Winstanley, Lillian Li, Seb Butt, Shriya Anand, Michael Tefula, Ben Goldsmith, Juliet Bailin, Sarah Millar, Farooq Abassi and Julia Rabin. Not forgetting those that have been involved with the team previously — such as Anna Huyghues Despointes, Esther Delignat-Lavaud Rodriguez, Anjuli Koshal, or those that have helped us enormously across training programmes, Future VC, the VC Guidebook and the Diversity VC Standard, who are too many to name here.

Thank you all.

We also couldn’t have achieved any of this without Cooley LLP, who have been steadfast backers of Diversity VC since day one. Alongside Cooley, we’ve been fortunate to have other partners supporting our work, including Capital Enterprise’s One Tech backed by J.P.Morgan Chase, Silicon Valley Bank, Atomico, the BVCA, the British Business Bank and all the Venture Capital firms who have worked with us. Our advisors Suranga Chandratillake (Balderton Capital), Kathryn Mayne (Horsley Bridge), Harry Briggs (OMERS Ventures) and Aaron Archer and Ryan Naftulin (Cooley LLP) have also been essential to our success so far.

We firmly believe that the industry is in a better place now than it was in 2016, and we are pleased and proud to have played our part.

But there is still a long road ahead. As our research and that of many of our peers has demonstrated, decision makers in venture capital are predominantly white men, many groups of entrepreneurs face barriers to raising money and the overwhelming majority of deals are sourced using warm introductions, which are bad for diversity. We still have a way to go to create the fair, equitable and inclusive industry that we strive for.

Diversity VC was designed by people in the venture capital industry, for the venture capital industry.

In keeping with our mission, we’re now excited to seek new perspectives, new ideas and bring in a new leadership team to take Diversity VC to the next phase.

Myself, Travis and Lillian will be stepping back from day-to-day operations of Diversity VC and on to the board, and we’re recruiting a new CEO. The new CEO will bring new energy and a fresh perspective to our mission in order to achieve the next phase of progress.

The new CEO will be guided by the current Diversity VC leadership team, all of whom will take positions on the Diversity VC board, but will have full scope and support to shape the organisation in the way they believe will have the most opportunity for impact.

We would like to take this opportunity to open up the application for the new CEO. You can apply here:!

The CEO of Diversity VC is a fantastic position which provides massive scope for real tangible impact. The candidate should be working in the Venture Capital industry, should share our ambition and be prepared to take on this rewarding challenge.

We’re excited to work with the CEO to increase the successes of our current programmes, and to integrate their new and exciting ideas into our work.

Looking forward

2021 is already shaping up to be a great year for Diversity VC.

The internship programme, Future VC, will continue work on its third and fourth cohorts. Future VC has already placed 100+ internships, including remote placements during Covid-19, which have resulted in over 20 individuals gaining full time work in venture capital. The internship programme is critical, as it enables those from backgrounds currently overlooked by VC to gain employment in the industry.

We are also planning a new research project. Following our reports of 2017 and 2019, and we keen to again increase the scope of our latest research. This is important, as our research has shone a light on areas of venture capital that were not previously illuminated, making the disparities within the industry impossible to ignore.

We’re proud and humbled to witness Diversity VC chapters launching all over the world. We discussed our launch plans, huddled around a breakfast table in Kings Cross; the fact that Diversity VC has expanded to the USA, Iberia, Peru and further afield is phenomenal. What is more, all of our new, global chapters have been established by passionate members of the VC industry, who have proactively sought us out as potential collaborators. We look forward to continuing our mission across the world.

Diversity VC is driven by a clear mission, and we are delighted that so many people share our goals, and have volunteered their time and expertise to the organisation. We believe that 2021 can be our best year yet, and look forward to welcoming our new CEO, and continuing our journey towards a fairer and more representative venture capital industry.

Partner, Ada Ventures. Investing in overlooked founders and markets. Co-founder & CEO of Diversity VC.

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