I read a fascinating article in Newsweek last week. It deals with the problem female entrepreneurs have in finding funding in Silicon Valley. Assuming that the gist of it is true and not too overstated, it makes you think that Silicon Valley has reverted to the 16th century.
It tells the story of two female entrepreneurs trying to start a business that many think has potential. “It addressed a well-known problem, one that afflicts the tech industry but also banking, media, advertising and film.”
They have many meetings with venture capital and “pre-seed” financiers with little success, seemingly because they are female.
They are not alone. Another female entrepreneur heard this telling rejection, “I don’t like the way women think. They haven’t mastered linear thinking.” If that is the level of thinking at VC firms in the valley we can assume that they are successful in spite of themselves not because they are good at what they do.
The world today is mostly non-linear and people who can see that and adapt to it do better. Non-linear thinking is about meaning as opposed to structure and history and rules of thumb. I had not noticed that women were particularly better at it, but if they are, there is a huge opportunity for some Venture Capitalist to focus on and nurture start-ups developed by females.
Venture capital, and I suppose all investment, works best when it is merit driven and objective. Gender is not a factor under those conditions.
Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.