Thoughts on Diversity in Venture Capital

This past weekend, I helped to plan and organize the 6th Annual Fordham University Entrepreneurship Conference–which has a fun buzzy name, TrepCon. Overall, it was a great, but sometimes stressful, experience that I’ve been involved with one way or another since my freshman year.

Throughout my college career, I’ve helped plan five conferences, and I can honestly say that it is thankless but rewarding work. It requires handling speakers backing out last minute, constantly checking your email and analyzing read receipts, having the answers for everything, having multiple plan b’s, very fine-tuned multitasking, and more. The main organizer, my friend Joe Halpin, who handled most of the unglamorous aspects of the organization, had asked me to moderate a panel on Diversity in Venture Capital. I like to think that anything with the word “diversity” in it is my absolute jam, so I readily agreed, despite the fact that public speaking makes me fairly uncomfortable.

If you’re uncomfortable with public speaking, the resources and tools suggested should be fairly familiar to you. Basically, all that is stressed to you are the needs to be prepared, practice, and research. Trying my best to set myself up for success, I did all of those things while attempting not to psych myself out for no reason. I read up on articles on how to moderate, created a doc of tips I needed to use, thoroughly researched the topic, came up with questions, and received feedback from my friends concerning my questions. The day of, naturally I was nervous, and spent most of the day wondering when some amount of panic would set in (it didn’t). I like to think that I remained calm by readily confronting the fact that I was nervous but was incredibly comforted by the facts that I did very much feel prepared. Plus, the panelists were enthusiastic about being there.

The panelists were Ramphis Castro and Javier Noris are co-founders of ScienceVest and Impact Science Angels. Prior to the start, we got situated with the microphones, arranged the chairs on stage, and chatted about our experiences. Interestingly, it ended up being an all Latino panel discussing our passions for science, tech, VC, and hustling. They were optimistic but critical and highlighted plenty of areas of improvement as we discussed questions ranging from the life experiences that led them to venture capitalism, their views on diversity in VC, differences between the cultures in San Francisco and in New York are dramatically different, discussing some projects and firms they’ve worked on and whether, whether politics affects VC, and how can students get into VC?

Overall, it went well and I’m happy about the experience, enough so to mention it here. The following are some facts that I remember from the panel:

  • 45% of venture capitalists are women while only 11% are partners.
  • You need to hustle harder than others and figure out how to “hack” things.
  • Become familiar with different ecosystems.
  • Be prepared
  • How to get involved and set yourself up for success
  • Go to meetups, meet professionals and offer mutually beneficial relationships

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