I’ve been getting a lot of questions asking HOW to increase the dealflow of underrepresented founders that I wrote about last week.
Depending on your level of commitment and time availability, I’ll make three suggestions:
1) Just throw open the doors. For instance, I have a habit of screening all unsolicited LinkedIn connection requests. A simple “hey, how’s it going, let’s chat a bit so we know each other” sort of thing. It’s a bozo filter aimed at keeping my network useful.
Female and black founders now get an automatic accept from me. They get a message that asks “how did you come across me and how can I help?” The goal is to remove the friction associated with starting a conversation. Yes, I may get some bozos, but I’m also far less likely to let implicit bias cloud my judgment.
And let’s be clear here, I’m sure I’ve let ingroup bias impact my screening. In the process of vetting with imperfect information (i.e. just a LinkedIn profile), I probably made subconscious snap decisions based on ingroup bias. It’s important to own that because it’s the only way to avoid doing so going forward. As a result, I’ve created a process that fundamentally prevents bias from occurring at that stage.
Seriously, I can’t hammer this one home enough. Just. Take. The. Fucking. Call.
2) There are a growing number of accelerators around the country focused on women and people of color. Reach out to them and become a resource for them. Simply say “I want to help.” Now you have an active pipeline of diverse startups targeted at your front door. You can start here:
3) Hit up the entrepreneurial program or business school at your local HCBU (Historically Black College / University) or women’s college. Reach out to them and become a resource for them. Now you can actively support the next generation of diverse founders. You can start here:
Flat out, I haven’t done everything on this list. I’ve done #1 and #2 is in progress right now. Depending on what my schedule allows, I may get to #3. It turns out that just saying I’m open to conversations and TAKING THOSE CONVERSATIONS has started to fill up my plate.
I urge you to do the same.
— Eric Marcoullier
This is another one of those posts where I may be shooting my mouth off before I know what I’m truly talking about. At the very least, I only know a small fraction of what’s out there in terms of lists and resources for black and female founders. If you know of a valuable web site I should add, please email me at email@example.com and I’ll update my post.
UPDATE July 6, 2020: Thanks to the several founders who took time out of their busy days to discuss this post. I’ve made a few updates since the original publish date and the content is better for it.