In June 2020, global events shined a spotlight on widespread systemic inequality. We chose not to respond with a tidy public statement or social media post. Instead, we decided that the best way for us to reaffirm our commitment to the very simple idea that all people deserve the same respect and access to opportunity was to take a close look at ourselves and make changes for the better. So we stopped, took a deep breath, and did just that.
Through research and first-hand conversations, we discovered something that, in retrospect, seems so clear. Speedinvest and the VC industry as a whole are not immune to the systemic inequalities that are so common in society. To make matters more difficult, the connections between the symptoms and the root causes aren’t always obvious, including to us. All of this aside, the bottom line is that, while talent is evenly distributed, networks of opportunity are not, especially in such a small, highly networked ecosystem as ours.
VC is the only asset class where historic performance highly correlates with future success. One could argue that this is just another signal of how closed this industry really is. As a result, countless traditionally excluded groups of founders and talented professionals never get the honest chance they deserve to make their mark.
There is good news as well: study after study points to an inescapable conclusion, namely that actively engaging with these underserved networks, such as women, people of color, the LGBTQIA+ community and people with disabilities, is a win for all.
With that in mind and after several months of development and revision, we are proud to present Speedinvest’s comprehensive Equal Opportunity and Inclusion (EOI) strategy. As one pillar of our larger ESG policy, this ambitious five-year plan aims to strengthen EOI within our company by focusing on both the development of our team and our portfolio.
By actively building connections with largely untapped founder and investment networks, market segments and talent pools, we also hope to expand our role as a leader in European VC.
The VC and startup ecosystems are no stranger to lofty words when it comes to diversity and inclusion. But unless you put your money where your mouth is, then there is little point. That’s why Speedinvest has partnered with the SoftBank Vision Fund Emerge accelerator program, the first of its kind in Europe.
Emerge champions diversity in tech and entrepreneurship by connecting underrepresented entrepreneurs with the capital, tools, and networks they need to help them scale. The program is open to European startups that have at least one founder who identifies as a woman, a person of color, a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, a person with disabilities and/or is a refugee.
Due to the role technology plays in our lives, the decisions made in venture capital filter down not only to the larger tech ecosystem, but also influence society as a whole. Enter Diversity VC, which was founded in 2020 to ensure these decisions are being made responsibly and without bias.
To further this mission, they created The Diversity VC Standard, an assessment and certification process that sets a benchmark for best practices for Equal Opportunity and Inclusion (EOI) in VC. After much hard work, we are proud to announce that we officially achieved our Level 1 certification in June 2021 and are on track to reach our goal of Level 2 certification before the end of 2022.
As mentioned above, the foundation of Speedinvest’s EOI strategy rests on the idea that there are untapped pools of founders and talented professionals. That’s why we’ve chosen to form and develop relationships with organizations that can give us greater insights and visibility within those underserved networks. So far, we have partnerships with Female Founders, Sozialheld*innen and Unicorns in Tech.
If you are interested in partnering with us or have other questions on the topic, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our outreach to women specifically is further strengthened through Speedinvest Venture Partner, Deepali Nangia. A winner of the UK Business Angels Association’s Investor of the Year 2021 award, Deepali is an accomplished Angel investor and advocate for female entrepreneurs who has proven over and over to be an invaluable asset during our journey.
We are, naturally, very excited to be able to share the news of partnerships and certifications, but a culture shift in VC will not come from quick fixes and virtue signalling. The most meaningful results will come from learning to recognize and be consistently mindful of the biases that influence our decisions on a daily basis. This is what will lead us to achieving our goal of making EOI an integral part of Speedinvest’s DNA.
Therefore, going forward, we will continue to create and deepen relationships with groups and individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds. The more Speedinvest includes such perspectives and engages with these partners, the more we’ll be able to learn how to become more attractive and accessible to neglected founders and talented professionals. As time goes on - and our team and portfolio grows to include a wider variety of points of view at all levels - we’ll benefit from voices that consistently challenge our assumptions.
The path to achieving this vision will not always be easy, but it will be worth it. Only if we start with ourselves can we credibly inspire founders and other investors to do the same.
Speedinvest is a leading pan-European, early-stage venture capital firm. Our portfolio includes Wefox, Bitpanda, TIER Mobility, GoStudent, Curve, CoachHub, Schüttflix, TourRadar, Adverity, and Twaice.
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