Russell Goldsmith
Russell Goldsmith 20 February 2019
Categories Research

Podcast - VC and Female Founders Report

In our latest csuite podcast, we discuss the findings of the VC and Female Founders report from British Business Bank, Diversity VC and British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (BVCA), which highlights the fact that female start-up founders are missing out on billions of pounds of investment

Show 77 of the csuite podcast was produced in partnership with British Business Bank, Diversity VC and British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (BVCA) to discuss the findings of their VC and Female Founders Report, commissioned by HM Treasury, which highlights the fact that female start-up founders are missing out on billions of pounds of investment. 

The research identified specific barriers faced by female led firms in accessing venture capital and its aim is to help inform ongoing government work to tackle these barriers and boost the untapped economic potential of businesses.

Russell Goldsmith was joined by:

  • Alice Hu Wagner, Managing Director for Strategy and Economics, British Business Bank
  • Francesca Warner, CEO and Co-Founder of Diversity VC
  • David Mott, Chair of the BVCA's Venture Capital Committee and Founder Partner, Oxford Capital.


Photo: L-R: David Mott, Russell Goldsmith, Francesca Warner, Alice Hu Wagner

The British Business Bank is the UK Government's Economic Development Bank that looks after increasing access to finance for small and medium sized enterprises in the UK. Alice said that HM Treasury commissioned a piece of work with regards to patient capital or how to get increasing amounts of long-term capital for innovation to UK small businesses. As part of that, venture capital (VC) is a critical element and so they looked at not only the supply of capital but also where it was going. British Business Bank wanted to look specifically at whether VC got to female founders.

Forty-Five VC firms provided anonymous data on the gender makeup of founding teams that they had had contact with, first when the founders pitched themselves and presented to them for the first time and secondly at investment committee when the VC firms decided whether or not to allocate capital.


Source: VC and Female Founders Report

Of the £5.6bn of venture capital invested in 2017 in the UK, 89% went to all male founder teams.

Francesca (Check) said that all-female teams [accessing funding] have only seen a 2% increase over the last 10 years and she feels that the industry needs to get much better at making targeted interventions now, in order to make sure that that number doesn't just continue to move as slowly as it is today.

13% of senior people on UK venture capital investment teams are women and 48% of investment teams have no women at all.

Check said that it looks like the funds which have a female decision maker or female partner actually attract a higher level of deal flow from all female and mixed gender teams. However, she didn’t want to just imply that you have to have a female partner to see if you have valid companies, because anyone can invest in great businesses.

Warm Introductions

Alice said that the venture capital industry works off of networks around people that you know and that what they see with female VCs is that, in general, their networks might be slightly more likely to contain other women.  However, she agreed that there isn’t any requirement that says someone who isn't female can't have women in their networks.  She believes that it behoves venture capitalists to look at their networks and be more open about them, to be more inclusive in the broader sense of having their networks reach out to people who don't necessarily look like them or are not from the exact same backgrounds because it's good business, because a richer more diverse network will originate better transactions.


Source: VC and Female Founders Report

Warm introductions are 13 times more likely to reach an investment committee and be funded than cold submissions but only 36% of all female teams have a warm introduction compared to 40% for mixed gender and 42% for all male teams.

A quarter of the funds in the sample did not see a single woman in investment committee last year. 


75% of pitch decks that the industry receives are from businesses with no women on the founding team and pitch decks from all female founding teams make up just 5% of all approaches.

David said that the venture capital sector is a really long-term industry that thinks in terms of decades and their typical funds could go on for 12 years or more. He said that small changes that are made today are going to have big impacts in the future.

Women in VC

David said that the number of women working in the venture capital industry itself is clearly too low and that women have limited opportunities to being promoted and reaching the partner level.

Next Steps

Check wants to see more training - Diversity VC have created a toolkit for VC funds, which helps them look at their VC business and break it down and look at what the sourcing strategy should be, what they should be doing around hiring and onboarding people, what the culture should be and then giving people really tactical advice about ways that they can change their processes to become more inclusive.

The BVCA wants more member firms to submit data and try and raise the degree of transparency around this issue as much as possible, promoting the resources and showcasing best practice and giving practical, simple advice. They are running a number of events including their Diversity conference and 'women in private equity breakfast'.

Alice wants the venture capital industry as a whole to commit to saying that, first of all, this matters and then to actually back that up with collection of data, which is absolutely critical, and to share that - secrecy abounds but nevertheless - and to connect with other people and not think that you have to reinvent this.

You can download the VC and Female Founders Report from the British Business Bank website.

All previous shows of the csuite podcast series are available on the website and on all podcast apps.

There is also a growing community on FacebookInstagramLinkedIn and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.

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