Earlier this month, we (Nauta), together with UnternehmTUM, the main start-up accelerator and incubator in Munich, hosted a Female Founders Night. The successful evening connected more than 60 people in the start-up and VC universe. The goal? To foster a more diverse founding team starting with more females.
The evening kicked off with an informative panel compromised of Svenja Lassen, founder of the Female Investor Network, Friderike Bruchmann, the founder of XO Life, Amanda Birkenholz, Investment Manager at UVC Partners, and our Associate Juliane Elsner. These four exemplary women discussed the importance of diversity within the start-up and VC community, touching upon their own experiences. Below are some of the key highlights of the discussion:
- What does diversity offer? A different perspective. For example, female investors ask different types of questions; normally more personal than those of their male counterparts. Thus, helping an investment committee gain a more holistic picture.
- Groupthink vs. slow decision-making. If the team is diverse there are concerns reaching a consensus will take longer, but it also avoids groupthink – quick decision due to everyone thinking the same way. Diversity means that different scenarios have been considered before reaching a decision. But let’s not forget that a decision still needs to be made and that compromises may be needed.
- Implementing diverse practises. Recruitment can make a big impact on the diversity within teams. Make sure you broaden your search as much as possible, use inclusive language and cut down the must have’s – women only apply when they fulfil 100% of the requirements, whereas men happily apply if they only meet 60% of the criteria.
- Creating a diverse culture. It’s a human phenomenon that we are attracted to people who are like us. Therefore, it’s equally important that we know this happens and that we help mitigate it. As a company or team ask yourselves: ‘Are we welcoming enough?’ and ‘What can we do to approach more diverse people?’
- What can we do beyond the work environment? Beyond our workplace, we can encourage society to continue to adapt and change to the reality of our world – 50% of the world’s population are women. Whether it’s becoming role models for others (both younger and older) or taking heed of how we treat our daughters/nieces and sons/nephews – pink doesn’t only have to be for girls, girls can play rough, etc.
Beyond the discussion on diversity, we also touched upon what do start-ups look for in their investors, besides capital. The key things mentioned were network support and a sparring partner. Thankfully, Nauta offers its portfolio companies both 😊. And a Female Founders Night would not be complete without start-ups pitching, so thank you to Finway (financial planning for SMEs), Vyoma (automation in space), Heynannyly (childcare service platform), Sim4care (AR & VR for healthcare), XO Life (patient insights platform) and Aluco (logistics software).
It was an amazing evening, albeit one with an unfamiliar sensation – after all, for women in our field, we are normally the minority not the majority. Diversity starts with us. Let’s make sure the future is more diverse!
Interested in learning more? Join the Female Founders Office Hours.