Versatile VC is strictly a financial investor; we invest to optimize returns for our limited partners. That said, we are particularly excited to invest in underrepresented founders and/or in companies selling to the emerging domestic markets (i.e., African-American, Latinx, and other underrepresented communities).
We know that there’s more work to be done to increase the presence of women and underrepresented people in the innovation community. We are taking a range of steps to achieve our diversity & inclusion goals:
- Focus on capital-efficient companies. Founders from underrepresented backgrounds are more likely to build capital-efficient companies.
- Appropriate financial structures. The alternative VC instruments we have the option of using are disproportionately attractive to founders who are women or from underrepresented backgrounds.
- Training. Many corporate boards are seeking to diversify, but don’t know enough non-traditional candidates. This is particularly relevant for people from underrepresented backgrounds who are seeking to join boards and are not networked in the right circles. We have developed a training to address this: How to Win Consulting, Board, and Deal Roles with Private Equity and Venture Capital Funds.
- Recruiting. Every time a role opens at Versatile VC, we work hard to source a diverse pipeline, and try to monitor for bias in every interview. We promote our openings where we know they’ll be seen by underrepresented audiences, and proactively ask our network to make referrals. We also run structured interviews with a pre-set list of competencies and questions. When we onboard new companies, we discuss the importance of D&I and offer to share best practices we’ve seen from other companies.
- Tracking. We commit to share publicly Diversity & Inclusion statistics on our portfolio.
- Representation. At all the events which we attend or organize, we make a point of including a diversity of perspectives and personal backgrounds.
- Risk mitigation. One of the factors which deters some founders from launching a company is concern about derailing their career. We have built a suite of resources for founders in transition, designed to help them take advantage of their past success in founding a company, or just get a stable job after building a startup which didn’t succeed.
- Cap table diversification. We have committed to use the diversity rider in our investments.
We welcome any other ideas you may have.
Our founder has a history of investing in underrepresented founders at rates much higher than normal for our industry. David Teten founded the Harvard Business School Alumni Angels Venture Capital Access Program, a joint venture with the National Association of Investment Companies (“NAIC”), which helps women and diverse entrepreneurs raise capital. In its first full year of operation, VCAP attracted 159 applicants. 34 went through VCAP committee screening; 17 went to a HBS Angels pitch night; 6 attended the annual NAIC convention, and 3 received funding from HBS Angels and/or other sources. While Founder and Chairman of Harvard Business School Alumni Angels of New York, David organized a series of investor pitch events, joint with many of the major affinity groups for HBS Alumni: HBS African-American, HBS Healthcare, HBS LBGT, and HBS Latino. These pitch events were of course open to all startup founders, regardless of their educational background.
For more on how we think about diversity, see:
- The iconic VC-Backed founders are all White & Asian men. So why invest in diversity?
- Why are Alternative VCs investing in so many women & underrepresented founders?
- Why are venture capitalists (76% white men) ignoring the future?
- Don’t hire people you know!
Versatile VC invests and hires based on the merit, qualifications, and size of opportunities presented, without regard to race, religion, national origin, age, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, or any other basis. We have posted publicly our Anti-Harassment & Anti-Discrimination Policy and Procedures.