A window of opportunity: taking advantage of early-stage investing
The reality of the world has shifted from December 2019 to today. The COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting economic impacts have created unprecedented challenges for innovative ventures due to uncertainty for what the future holds. Yet this uncertainty has also created a new window of opportunity. Now, more than ever before, for innovative ventures to succeed what they need is the capital and partners to help them navigate uncharted waters.
In the fall of 2019, Melinda Gates wrote a moving piece announcing her 1B investment into women over the next 10 years. In that piece she highlighted a set of harrowing facts that illustrate a blatant lack of women in leadership roles; she aimed to change this by investing in women. Her investment was both meaningful and strategic, creating a focus on women at a critical time. In her words ‘‘a window of opportunity for women has been painstakingly pried open, but there is no reason to believe this moment will last forever.’ We believe, more than ever, this moment is now.
The moment has come for women to lead and invest in great companies and ideas; for women to be bearish about great ventures and the roles they can play. At a time when new ventures have an unprecedented need for capital and expertise, women have the opportunity to gain access to incredible companies at critical moments by opening more than just their checkbooks. This is the moment for women to roll up their sleeves, share their expertise, networks, and skills, and provide the much-needed fuel that high-growth, early-stage ventures require to succeed in a changing world.
We’re already seeing the negative impacts of change in the startup ecosystem: investments in seed-stage companies fell 22% globally from Q4 2019 to Q1 2020 (CB Insights Report 2020). But what if we could shift this downward trajectory by infusing the market with a previously untapped source of capital and expertise? Women have the experience, the personal capital, and the networks that make shrewd angel investors and corporate advisors, yet women have not invested or engaged with the venture ecosystem en masse. So how do we capitalize on this unique window of opportunity to bring more women into the venture ecosystem benefiting both companies and the women that come to their aid? The answer is simple: provide them with education and the right network that allows them to activate the connections between their own business experiences and the world of startup investing.
Future Capital was developed to provide investment education through diverse experiences ranging from intimate one-hour engagements to more hands-on, immersive learning experiences that span 12 weeks: all designed to connect the dots between professional experience and investment decisions. By learning to be an investor, women learn how to value an opportunity and analyze its potential. They learn how to gain access to closed networks by understanding what skills they bring to the table and how to leverage them to help a venture succeed. Future Capital teaches women to connect these dots, equipping them with the necessary skills to assess and understand the value they create as an investor, advisor, mentor, or board member of any early-stage company. In turn, through both the skills and leadership opportunities provided by Future Capital, women become more skilled and valued corporate leaders.
At a time of unprecedented change, comes a time of unprecedented opportunity. As many early-stage companies seek out new networks of investors and advisors, women have an opportunity to get their foot in the door and shape the future of our economy. The window is here and we say to all the women who have thought about early-stage investing and education: the time is now.
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Future Capital is an initiative developed through a partnership with Female Funders, Highline Beta, Microsoft, and Simon Fraser University. Through a unique partnership: between Fortune 500, venture, and research, these groups have come together to deliver world-class innovative training, network, and support.