WOMEN IN VENTURE BUILDING – DIVERSITY FOR EMPOWERMENT

In the webinar series of May 2022, our speakers Sunny Shuoyang Zhang, Founder and General Partner at Born Global Ventures, Sharon Klaver, MD and partner at Builders and Charlotte Wieder, Lead Venture Builder at Innov’X, gave valuable insights on being a woman in innovation world and diversity in the venture building industry. Here you can find some of the answers that were given during the webinar!

Make sure to follow us on LinkedIn and join our LinkedIn group to not miss the next webinar sessions. If you still have questions after the article, make sure to watch the recording of the webinar. The recordings of previous sessions are available within StudioHub premium membership packages. But now, let’s dive right in …

An overview of the impact of diversity

Last year, in our annual data report on Startup Studios, we found out that the average gender balance across the industry is 38% women and 62% men. In our experience, this number becomes less encouraging when we look at founders and CEOs. While talking about innovation and making companies, the statistics on diversity make it clear that it’s something we need to consider. Over a three-year period, companies with highly diverse teams noticed a significant increase in cash flow, 2.3 times per employee. On average, companies with diverse management teams enjoyed a 19 per cent increase in revenue compared to their less diverse counterparts. Companies with diverse boards also noticed significantly higher profits. 

But how is the actual experience? Down below you can find some of the answers given by our speakers.

Being a woman in venture building

Have you ever thought that there are challenges for women within venture building?

Sharon Klaver: «If you look into the research and numbers, there is a gap between men and women, and there are differences. But if you ask me, I didn’t feel the difference and I have always worked with all genders. There is a difference when you are the only woman in a group of men and you stand out because you are the only one. People come towards you instead of walking towards another man because you are the only one in the field who is physically unique. Looking back on my entire entrepreneurial journey, I have never experienced regular problems like earning less money or feeling like someone had an opinion of me because I am a woman. 

Looking into my team and the women I attracted within my company, I don’t think all companies create a stage to speak out loud and be themselves when they worked in different environments. Within our company, we make sure that these people get the stage to spread the word about who they are and what they love to do.  It helps with creating this diverse environment where people can believe in themselves and thrive and grow. And we do everything to empower them.»

Diversity in venture building

Why do you think that bringing diversity is important in venture building? 

Charlotte Wieder: «I have 18 years of experience in innovation and what I’ve seen is that the best team was with the most diverse talent. This means bringing people from different backgrounds, of different ages representation, and also genders representation. And when you have a multidisciplinary team, it’s when you can really make big things.

You need to have diverse people but also very talented and engaged people. So, when you bring motivation and passion to achieve something together, you will be able to bring something special to the team to achieve big results with a bold and entrepreneurial spirit. So I think it’s key to innovation. »

The example of Born Global Ventures

At Born Global Ventures, you focused on diversity since day one, and you are not only introducing it within your activities but also within the industry. How are you doing this?

Sunny Zhang: «We started 5-6 years ago as Z lab. Z at the time stood for the last letter of the alphabet, which is the early-stage founders, but also the underrepresented, such as women, minorities and immigrants. As Born Global Ventures, we decided to focus on immigrants, because women and minorities are part of it. It’s almost the most diverse kind of founders you could work with. 

Only 2% of women get venture-backed in the United States. When people make decisions, they tend to like people who look like them. When the other side of the table is lacking diversity, they’re not seeing the opportunities, whether from founder potential or market potential.

This is the reason why at Born Global, we’re being very intentional in bringing venture investing opportunities to women investors as well. We believe it’s fundamental to empower the women entrepreneurs, but the next step is bringing more women to the investor side. 

We have to make a conscious effort to empower the women in the venture building space. From a venture builder’s perspective, we are on both sides of the table, so we have to intentionally do more on both the investor and the builder’s side. Only through that, we could have a more comprehensive ecosystem, that supports venture building collectively. »

About the Speakers

Sunny Shuoyang Zhang, Founder and General Partner at Born Global Ventures. Headquartered in Houston, the most diverse city in the United States, Born Global Ventures provide financial capital, intellectual capital, human capital, and social capital for resilient immigrant founders to build born global startups reshaping the world. 

Sharon Klaver, MD and partner at BuildersSharon is an entrepreneur at heart dedicated to bringing together like-minded people to build value-driven software companies at a global scale. Sharon founded her first online company when she was 16 years old. Later, she founded, funded and managed several software companies. Throughout her career in fashion and software, Sharon has developed in-depth operational and financial leadership experience.

Charlotte Wieder, Lead Venture Builder at Innov’X in Morocco. Doctor in Industrial Engineering, she loves to work in a pioneer mode, strategically exploring and making possible innovations & growth opportunities with an entrepreneurial mindset. What drives her: “Empowering purposeful builders, businesses and communities for an exciting future for all”. The Innov’X Venture Builder aims to transform complex technological and industrial opportunities into entrepreneurial success stories, with the motto: “Your toughest challenges, our most scalable ventures”.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chiara Casale

Currently – Finishing my Bachelor’s Degree in Polytechnic of Turin in Management and Engineering, while exploring the world and new opportunities. 

Not planned – Recently found out that I enjoy writing about innovation and the future of business and entrepreneurship.

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