The Great “We Support Female Founders” Lie Continues…
At the Y-Combinator Female Founders Conference this year, every single company that presented on stage had a male co-founder. Every. Single. One.
For the panel with YC partners, they invited questions from the audience via email, so I sent several asking them to skip talking about how many female founders they’ve invested in and tell us how many companies they’ve invested in with zero male founders. The question was glossed over with (a) no actual, numerical answer, and (b) the worst excuse ever — we can’t get women to apply.
I have been told repeatedly that my company would be a lot more easily funded if I had a male co-founder. At the (500) Startups Unity and Inclusion Summit in Los Angeles, one of the speakers asked if I’d tried to “get a guy” to help run the company. Let that sink in — it was the UNITY AND INCLUSION SUMMIT.
Newsflash: You are NOT investing in women when you require them to team up with men in order to get money.
Women are held to different, often higher standards than their male counterparts in the earliest stages of their companies, when investments are likely to be based on the investor’s gut as much as anything else, and this is where the startup community loses them. When it comes to money, apply the EMILY rule: Early Money Is Like Yeast — it grows the dough.
Without money early enough, founders cannot sustain what is needed to go from prototype to beta to MVP to growth to unicorn. Maybe the reason there hasn’t been a female-founded unicorn yet, as Jessica Livingston lamented from the YCFF stage, is that they had to jump through too many hoops before even getting started, and as you know, when it comes to jumping through hoops, that horn is a killer.
Y-Combinator just released their latest batch stats.
Notice the phrasing — “companies with a female founder.”
So I’ll ask again, YC, in this batch of 124 companies, how many had ZERO male founders? In the whole portfolio of 1,430 companies that you’ve funded in the past 12 years, exactly what percentage were founded and funded without male co-founders?
I get it if you’re not willing to share these stats publicly, as I imagine they would be quite embarrassing. But at least start tracking it for yourselves. As you say, it’s all about the metrics, and what you don’t measure, you can’t change. And if you truly support female founders, this is the first thing you can change.