Leadership

Diversity-Minded Venture Capital Group Gets Startup-Minded About Growth

By / Apr 10, 2019 The members of All Raise's founding team, a group of 34 senior female investors in the venture capital sector. (via All Raise's website)

All Raise, a nonprofit that aims to increase the influence of women in both the startup and venture capital spaces, is in full-growth mode with a newly hired CEO at the helm.

A nonprofit targeting women in the venture capital field is growing—and, fittingly, it’s borrowing some ideas from the startup world from which it was born.

All Raise, a group formed last year to increase diversity in the venture capital field, is boosting its efforts with a laser-focused growth strategy, something seen this week as numerous outlets in the technology space covered the hiring of its first CEO, Pam Kostka, after a nine-month search.

The nonprofit came to life during the #MeToo movement, which rocked Silicon Valley along with many other industries. High-profile figures in the venture capital space, such as Binary Capital Cofounder Justin Caldbeck and early Twitter and Uber investor Chris Sacca, were accused of inappropriate behavior, as were many in the general world of technology. But while All Raise gained notice amidst a wave of headlines in 2017 and 2018, the group has broader goals, Kostka told Recode this week.

“We’re about first shots—giving people first shots—not necessarily about the scandal,” Kostka told the outlet. “The scandal is helpful in raising visibility. We’re going to keep on doing this.”

The group aims to build upon the momentum gained during its creation, which has led to initiatives such as VC Champions, which draw attention to new generations of investors, and Female Founder Office Hours, which help to highlight women working in the startup space.

Speaking to TechCrunch, All Raise Cofounder Aileen Lee of Cowboy Venture explained that the growth strategy tried for a grassroots approach that expanded beyond the Valley, comparing the approach to TED’s affiliate-heavy event strategy.

“What we are trying to do is quite different than other nonprofit models,” Lee told the outlet. “If we are lucky, it might have some similarities to TED. TED has a big conference where they bring together a lot of people and share lots of ideas, and you can go to TED.com and watch a talk. We want to make All Raise accessible like that so people can learn from us and be inspired, or they can host a workshop or a book club regardless of where they are.”

The group’s collaborative approach—Kostka and Communications Director Steffi Wu, the only other hired employee currently, often work nights and weekends in an effort to collaborate with well-connected investors during off-hours—has already shown major results, with $4 million in donations thus far and a successful event, the Women Who Venture Summit, already behind it. There are plans to grow the staff further, and there’s still plenty to do, Kostka says, as women make up only 11 percent of venture capitalists in the U.S., an increase of 2 percent in the prior year.

“I think it’s no coincidence that All Raise started a year ago and we’ve since moved the needle, but we’re not done, not by a long shot,” she told TechCrunch.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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