|Not enough women
Some of you may remember when we announced the successful fundraising for the b-to-v Fund III back in 2015. Alongside numerous positive reactions to our press release, there was one small article (which you can find here
) that featured an interesting side comment; the author reflected positively about b-to-v, and then he pointed out that b-to-v claims
to be a diverse network of investing entrepreneurs, yet it clearly lacks
The author’s comment was not directly critical, more an observation really. But it struck a nerve with us. He was 100% right. In fact, he was stating the obvious; we had (and still have) very few women in our network. To be very clear, there are very few women in the entire central European venture capital ecosystem, both on the investor side and on the founder side.
First, why is this a problem? Well, I dare you to raise this question in public and you shall find out very quickly...But set all political correctness aside for a moment and look at the real connection to b-to-v: our philosophy and investment strategy puts a deliberate emphasis on the importance of our network. We believe that the
- b-to-v network, i.e. our members, introduces outstanding investment opportunities to us,
- b-to-v network shares its intelligence and expertise with us so that we can learn and take better investment decisions,
- and that the b-to-v network is supportive of our portfolio companies and has, in many cases, proven to be able to open amazing doors for our start-up teams.
With that in mind, it is only natural for b-to-v to think about how we can further improve the diversity and quality of our network, because it is a key element of our investment strategy. And bringing female investors into our network undoubtedly introduces new qualities and perspectives to the network.
So have we done? In the past twelve months, we established new contacts with professional business networks for women such as The Female Factor
and League of Leading Ladies
– previously unknown to me, as I admit very openly. And subsequently we conceptualized and hosted an exclusive event for female investors (see here
) with a total of 28 attending female early-stage investors. The event was not only successful on a stand-alone basis but it also opened doors for us to future potential cooperation partners who are interested in hosting similar events with us.
I am not naïve enough to believe that b-to-v can bring change to the markets alone, i.e. I do not expect to see 50% female investors in the audience of start-up events tomorrow.
But I am idealistic and foolish enough to believe that we can at least try to bring change to the market by making an effort. I think that we can deliver two basic things:
- We can strive to make successful and experienced female investors such as Carole Ackermann, Andrea Kranzer, Gina Domanig or Sylvie Mutschler more visible in the market and thereby indirectly encourage other women to follow their example.
- We can give female investors access to investment opportunities, know-how regarding the screening and due diligence of investment targets, know-how regarding the structure of term sheets, and training regarding the coaching of start-up teams.
Please feel free to contact me if you have an interest in this topic and/or if you have contacts to potential female investors, so that we can eventually reach at least 30% (better: 50%) female investors in the audience of future start-up/investment events.
And now, have fun reading our November newsletter!
On behalf of the b-to-v team, Alexander Stoeckel