I’m a Latina who was born in a small New England town and attended a small women’s liberal arts college in Virginia. But that’s not how I thought of myself during the early days of getting my company off the ground. When I was heads down in code building TaskRabbit, I thought of myself as an engineer. When I was in the throes of pitch decks and investor meetings, I thought of myself as a founder. My identity and background didn’t factor much into how I spent my time each day, and I wanted to believe they wouldn’t matter when it came to my chances of raising venture capital.
In reality, I didn’t match the pattern. VCs had an idea of what successful founders looked like, and they didn’t look like me. It took another woman of color hearing my pitch to open up opportunities for me. And that woman, Ann Miura-Ko, was only in a position to say “yes” to me because another VC (Floodgate’s Mike Maples) took a chance on her. As a founder and CEO, I recruited a diverse team of talented individuals who brought different backgrounds and life experiences to the table. Many of these people have gone on to become founders themselves, building their own teams. Others have gone on to become venture capitalists. This is the virtuous cycle of wealth creation in action. And all it took to get it going was one VC deciding to take a chance on someone who didn’t match the pattern.
We need more of this. And we need more of it at each step of the funding process.