A Tale of Two Squirrels: The Not So Simple Math on Venture Portfolio Size

By now most VCs are familiar with Dave McClure’s theory of venture portfolio size. In short, he believes that at seed stage, it doesn’t make sense to have a fund with fewer than 50-100 companies, because venture returns depend on outliers and you need a big enough portfolio to consistently capture them.

In the post, he outlines a range of typical outcomes for a large portfolio of seed-stage investments. You can see some variation of this trend in most published venture returns data such as Crunchbase or PitchBook.

Range of Potential Venture Outcomes from Dave McClure’s “99 Problems” blog post (May 2015)
Fig. 1: Range of Potential Venture Outcomes from Dave McClure’s “99 Problems” blog post (May 2015)

These are large ranges (because there’s a lot of randomness in startups), and depending on where you end up in these ranges, you could make or lose a lot of money. Most investors prefer a bit more certainty.

Thankfully, statisticians have invented something called a Monte Carlo analysis, popularized by Nate Silver of 538 fame, to simulate the impact of this randomness by simulating a large range of possible outcomes. And my friend Yannick Roux (@yanroux, blog), a London-based VC, kindly built a Monte Carlo simulation in Excel to help me model the range of possible outcomes for venture portfolios.

The “Blind Squirrel” Portfolio

We have an expression “Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while.” In other words, any VC with decent deal flow and a reasonable selection process, if they write enough checks, should eventually pick a winner. I’m not saying that’s a good way to invest, but let’s do the math.

“Eew, this one tastes like Ad-Tech.”

Working with Yannick’s model, I plugged in some assumptions from the middle of the ranges above. This represents the “average” venture investor, hence with outcomes that fall in the middle of these ranges.

Then the Monte Carlo engine quickly ran through 10,000 simulated portfolios and listed the outcomes. I repeated this five times, changing only the portfolio size each time, and leaving all other variables constant (such as fund size average investment per company per outcome). These are the results:

Distribution of portfolio return multiples (gross of fees) from a Monte Carlo simulation of 10,000 “Blind Squirrel” venture portfolios.
Fig. 2: Distribution of portfolio return multiples (gross of fees) from a Monte Carlo simulation of 10,000 “Blind Squirrel” venture portfolios.

As you can see, the results for the three largest portfolios are almost identical, but the results for the 20- and 50-company portfolio are worse. That’s because, in this model, we’re only expecting big (e.g. >50X returns) winners to occur 1% of the time. And in a portfolio of 20 companies, 1% of 20 is, more often than not, zero. But in a portfolio of 200+ companies, you could pretty reliably see a couple 50X outcomes in each iteration of the portfolio.

Here’s a frequency distribution showing the breakdown of return multiples 10,000 simulated portfolios of 20 companies vs. 200 companies. It’s a bit easier to visualise this way.

Frequency distribution histogram of portfolio return multiples (gross of fees) from a Monte Carlo simulation of 10,000 “Blind Squirrel” venture portfolios.
Fig. 3: Frequency distribution histogram of portfolio return multiples (gross of fees) from a Monte Carlo simulation of 10,000 “Blind Squirrel” venture portfolios.

But We’re Not Average! Enter the Super Squirrel.

The “blind squirrel” portfolio was designed to match the outcomes of the venture universe in-general. These are the middle of our ranges – and a median return of 3.18X before fees and after a 10-year lock-up isn’t terrible.

But we should hope that a well-known venture fund with a recognized brand and a large team of experienced partners would attract better than average quality companies, and be better than average at picking and supporting winners. So I re-ran the model with input assumptions towards the higher end of our ranges, a different picture emerged: 20 companies is still not a great portfolio. But in this model, 200 companies can get you better than 4X before fees.

Distribution of portfolio return multiples (gross of fees) from a Monte Carlo simulation of 10,000 “Super Squirrel” venture portfolios.
Fig. 4: Distribution of portfolio return multiples (gross of fees) from a Monte Carlo simulation of 10,000 “Super Squirrel” venture portfolios.

Now these are much better returns. And in this model, the impact of portfolio size becomes much more pronounced. That’s because payoffs in venture are asymmetrical, meaning the impact of the losers (e.g. you lose 1X your investment) remains the same regardless of how amazing you are, but the impact of the winners is exaggerated for Super Squirrel VCs, because there are more bigger winners in Super Squirrel’s portfolio.

Frequency distribution histogram of portfolio return multiples (gross of fees) from a Monte Carlo simulation of 10,000 “Super Squirrel” venture portfolios.
Fig. 5: Frequency distribution histogram of portfolio return multiples (gross of fees) from a Monte Carlo simulation of 10,000 “Super Squirrel” venture portfolios.

What about the 50 company portfolio?

As you saw above, the 50 company portfolio doesn’t do badly. The top quartile returns more than 6.34X, which is better than the 100 company portfolio. But it carries a lot more risk, and you can see that in the shape of the curves:

Frequency distribution histogram of portfolio return multiples (gross of fees) from a Monte Carlo simulation of 10,000 “Super Squirrel” venture portfolios with 50 or 200 companies
Fig. 6: Frequency distribution histogram of portfolio return multiples (gross of fees) from a Monte Carlo simulation of 10,000 “Super Squirrel” venture portfolios with 50 or 200 companies.

Notice that second gray hump on the right? That squirrel looks more like a camel! (a bi-modal, or Bactrian camel at that) That’s because your chance of hitting a “big winner” (50X – 100X) is about 1%. And in a 50 company portfolio, that will happen about half of the time. So the fund outcomes in the hump on the right have that one big winner in them, and the ones on the left don’t.

But in those great outcomes, it’s really down to that one big winner. If I re-run the Super Squirrel model and remove the top performing company in each scenario, then that whole second hump goes away. Notice below, the top quartile return for the 50 company fund drops by 49%, but the top quartile return for the 200 company fund only loses 20%.

Top Quartile returns for Super Squirrel funds with and without their single best performing company.
Fig. 7: Top Quartile returns for Super Squirrel funds with and without their single best performing company.

Now imagine you’re the manager of the 50 company fund. You’re six years in and you have that one company – late stage, growing fast, looking good. What if they “only” sell for $200M and you get crushed under a stack of liquidation preferences? What if Amazon goes after them? What if a similar company tries to IPO and it’s a disaster? What if the Wunderkind founder gets hit by a bus? Or suppose that company does well and you decide to raise another fund. Then you’ve got to convince your LPs that lightning will strike twice, and you’ll find another big winner again in your next fund. You explain that even though nearly half your returns from your last fund came from a single company, you’re sure you can pull that rabbit out of that hat again. These questions will haunt your dreams.

But We’re Not Squirrels!

It’s true, most VCs will tell you their investments are not random. They will claim they are able to access and carefully select the best companies in which to invest. So, as an LP in a 20 company fund, all you need to do is pick a fund manager who is consistently able to attract and consistently select the top 5% of seed stage startups.

But remember, if you have someone who can consistently select the top 5% of publicly-traded equities year after year, you have Charlie Munger of Berkshire Hathaway. That’s not a simple task!

And it’s theoretically easier to identify good companies in public markets, where you have decades of historical data, competitive data and armies of analysts poring over every available scrap of information. So the person who can consistently pick the top 5% of seed-stage startups is much smarter than Charlie Munger. (When you meet that person, please please please send her my way!)

But what about Sequoia Capital? Kleiner Perkins? Andreessen Horowitz?

Concentrated portfolios have been the venture game for the last few decades: Most institutional investors allocating into venture capital (representing at best a single digit percent of their asset allocation) have been fighting for allocations into a very small number of top-decile fund managers, typically based on Sand Hill Road.

How do we explain all those famous funds with concentrated portfolios that have done so well? It’s true, a few fund managers have done a great job of landing their outsized share of big winners fund after fund. So this must be possible.

We believe, the main difference is that these people are investing in later stages (Series A onwards). At later stages, a more concentrated portfolio might make more sense, as a higher proportion of your investments should be “winners” and fewer will go to zero. And in that case, your ability as a fund manager depends less on your ability to “select” winners and more on your ability to get into the best deals. That said, although companies in later stages may be 10X further along in traction and the likelihood of success may have improved somewhat vs. the prior stage, their pre-money valuations may have increased much more. (Our typical entry point on valuation for seed-stage is about $2.5M pre-money, whereas a Series A might start at $15-$20M pre-money and a Series B might be at $40M-$50M pre-money). Finally, entering at higher valuations means you need to exit at higher valuations to see a comparable multiple. For example, to get an Amazing (50X) outcome on an investment at $50M pre-money requires getting more than $2.5B exit valuation, whereas to get such an outcome on an investment at $2.5M pre-money requires getting only a $125M exit valuation (before dilution to simplify the math). The net of all of this is that, in our opinion, later-stage investing may have a worse risk-adjusted return profile than seed-stage investments, especially for fund managers who do not have the same kind of branding and deal access as the Legends of Sand Hill Road.

How Big Should My Portfolio Be?

We believe, if you’re 1) investing at seed stage, and 2) you are an average investor (in terms of deal flow & selection experience), and 3)  your main goal is maximizing financial returns, you’d want a minimum of 100 companies to get a decent shot at a 3X gross return. If you’re a really good investor, 50 companies might be enough. But if your one big winner doesn’t deliver hugely… that’s the risk. So, in our opinion, if you want consistent outperformance and unicorn failure insurance you should aim for 200 – 500 companies.

This is Not Revolutionary

I’m not the first person in the history of finance to suggest that diversification might be a good thing. And 500 Startups isn’t the first early-stage fund to favor a large portfolio. (That was Y Combinator, or Ron Conway before them). But we keep having this debate for some reason. So I wanted to unpack the math a bit.

Notes: I originally published this post on my Medium blogIf you’re seriously interested in learning more about early stage venture investing check out our investor education programs at education.500.co.


Acknowledgements

None of this math would have been possible without the portfolio Monte Carlo simulation engine developed by Yannick Roux, who also reviewed and improved drafts of the post. Plus great inspiration from @twentyminutevc in his great discussion with Josh Breinlinger and the ensuing tweetstorm. And many thanks to Dave McClure, Aman Verjee and Eddie Thai for all the feedback on drafts & constantly prodding the math. (And Yiying Liu for photoshopping the Patagonia vests on to the venture squirrels – priceless!) If you learned anything new from this post, it was truly from the shoulders of giants on which I stand.


About Matt Lerner

Matt Lerner, 500 Startups PartnerMatt Lerner (@matthlernerMedium blog) heads 500 Startups in the U.K. He has led over 30 early-stage  investments across Europe and the Middle East, and runs their “Series A” growth program for seed-stage startups. Prior to joining 500 Startups, Lerner worked as a Marketing Director and later Head of UK SME at PayPal. He built and managed growth teams that helped grow PayPal from an $800M business to an $8B business in 10 years. Lerner occasionally lectures on “growth hacking” at Stanford Business School and Imperial college.

 


LEGAL NOTICES

THE STATEMENTS HEREIN REPRESENT THE CURRENT OPINION AND BELIEFS OF THE AUTHOR.  UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD ANYTHING IN THIS POST BE CONSTRUED AS INVESTMENT, LEGAL, TAX, REGULATORY, FINANCIAL, ACCOUNTING OR OTHER ADVICE BY 500 STARTUPS. THIS POST IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE THE BASIS FOR ANY EVALUATION OF AN INVESTMENT IN A VENTURE CAPITAL FUND BY 500 STARTUPS OR ANY OF ITS REPRESENTATIVES OR AFFILIATES. THIS POST DOES NOT CONSTITUTE AN OFFER TO SELL OR A SOLICITATION OF INTEREST TO PURCHASE ANY SECURITIES BY 500 STARTUPS, OR ANY OF ITS REPRESENTATIVES OR AFFILIATES.

POTENTIAL RETURNS AND MODELS IN THIS POST ARE THEORETICAL AND PROVIDED FOR ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSES ONLY.  THE PROJECTED RETURNS PRESENTED ARE NOT BASED ON PAST PERFORMANCE AND MAKE CERTAIN MATERIAL ASSUMPTIONS AND PROJECTIONS WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT PROVE ACCURATE. THE PROJECTED RETURNS HEREIN DO NOT PURPORT TO GUARANTEE FUTURE RETURNS, AND RETURNS FOR INVESTORS IN ANY 500 STARTUPS OR OTHER VENTURE FUND MAY BE LESS OR MORE THAN THE RETURNS REFLECTED IN THIS POST AND MAY DIFFER MATERIALLY FROM ANY PROJECTED RETURNS, PERFORMANCE EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED IN THIS POST.

THE VIEWS AND PROJECTED RETURN INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN HAVE NOT BEEN AUDITED OR VERIFIED BY ANY INDEPENDENT PARTY AND SHOULD NOT BE RELIED UPON IN MAKING ANY INVESTMENT DECISIONS.  NO REPRESENTATION OR WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IS MADE BY 500 STARTUPS AS TO THE REASONABLENESS OR ACCURACY OF THE PROJECTIONS OR ESTIMATES CONTAINED HEREIN, AS A RESULT, SUCH PROJECTIONS AND ESTIMATES SHOULD BE VIEWED SOLELY AS AN ORDERLY REPRESENTATION OF ESTIMATED RESULTS IF UNDERLYING ASSUMPTIONS ARE REALIZED.

VENTURE CAPITAL INVESTMENTS ARE CHARACTERIZED BY A HIGH DEGREE OF RISK, VOLATILITY AND ILLIQUIDITY. THE PROJECTED PERFORMANCE HEREIN IS NOT NECESSARILY INDICATIVE OF FUTURE RESULTS, AND THERE CAN BE NO ASSURANCE THAT ANY 500 STARTUPS FUND WILL ACHIEVE COMPARABLE RESULTS, ACTUAL RESULTS COULD DIFFER SIGNIFICANTLY

 

The Build Up to Batch 20 Demo Day

It’s two weeks out from Batch 20’s demo day and the energy is building in the 500 Startups San Francisco office, also known as 500 Del Norte.

Startup team members are flying in from around the world to join their founders in the office in preparation for the flower-power themed extravaganza that is a 500 Demo Day (yes, the theme is ‘Summer of Love’).

Thirty-six percent of Batch 20 hail from countries outside of the US, including Thailand, Hong Kong, Latvia, Estonia, Brazil, Britain, Australia, Russia, Ukraine, Nigeria, India, Canada and France. We also had our first team from Belarus in Batch 20, FriendlyData, a natural language interface for databases, who recently topped the 2017 charts on ProductHunt.

(You can see the growing number of B20 companies hunted on ProductHunt here, as well as a full list of all 44 companies on TechCrunch.)

The move to the US has proved fruitful for other international teams as well. Russian startup VisaBot has quickly reacted to the current immigration environment and is helping hundreds of US immigrants access services via their chatbot and previously Latvia-based Funderful opened their San Francisco office while signing UC Berkeley and Rhodes Scholars as clients since their move to the Bay Area in January for the 500 Seed Program.

With the addition of the full teams, the office is packed, hot and buzzing. Pitches are heard whisping through the air almost 24/7. Founders crowd around war room tables in meeting rooms named after the 15 of the most populous cities in the world.

Furniture is pulled left and right in an ever changing landscape. White boards turn into art pieces of partially erased mysteries. It’s the true beauty of the world’s most active accelerator in full bloom.

Pitch prep continues into the night more often than naught. Drinks are poured to cool off from the sweat equity spent. VC office hours are sprinkled throughout every day now. Post-it notes line the doors with names like Accel, A16Z, Bessemer, and FundersClub.

Fireside chats continue weekly from the likes of Silicon Valley’s best: Jason Lemkin, Andrew Chen, Scott Farquhar, co-founder of Atlassian, and Ken Lin, the founder of CreditKarma, one of 500’s unicorns. There’s a constant need to be on the top of your game. Founders become well versed in disguising their few hours of sleep in energetic sentences.

But it’s all worth it in the end. After four months of growth, preparation, practice, Marketing Hell Week, investors, experts, Sales Hell (no one said this was easy), office hours, batch self-made videos, and more late nights than one can count, everything coalesces in the grandeur of a 500 demo day. An event that never stays the same.

From flash mobs to rap battles to a fireside chat with Mattermark founder Danielle Morrill while Dave wore a unicorn wig to Demoween, there will always be surprises in store for the audience of 450+ investors.

So, we hope to see you there. The next generation of tech companies is waiting for you.

Apply to attend 500 Startups Batch 20 Demo Day here.

500 Startups Kobe Accelerator Launches Second Batch

500 Startups is returning to Kobe! After last year’s successful 500Kobe program, 500 Startups is partnering again with Kobe City to launch its second accelerator program that will be coming to Kobe this summer. The program is a 7-weeks course which will focus on bringing growth hacking techniques and Silicon Valley expertise to emerging companies in Kobe, while also boosting Japanese and domestic entrepreneurship in the region.

After launching the $30M 500 Japan Fund in 2015 with the goal of engaging and investing in local startups, alongside seeing how more than half of the companies from last year’s program succeeded in raising capital, it naturally made sense to deepen the relationship with the City of Kobe by creating another program in Kobe, Japan. The international scope of the program aims not only to work with Japanese companies but with startups from around the world who are invited to one of Japan’s most cosmopolitan cities.

The 500Kobe program will select 20-25 startups and is targeting companies with traction and a working product. Companies accepted to this program will also be given the opportunity to meet with some of Japan’s leading corporations.

Apply here: 500kobe.comThe deadline for applications is May 31, 2017

The program will be spearheaded by 500 Partner, Zafer Younis, with a number of the Silicon Valley team members flying out to Kobe for the duration of the program. Members from the accelerator team will also be staffed on site full time to aid in mentorship and Growth strategies.

500 Startups is coming back to Kobe for the startups and staying for the beef!

500 Startups Kobe Accelerator Program

Duration: August 21 – October 10, 2017

  • Phase 0: July 31 – August 20
  • Week 1,2: August 21 – September 1
  • Week 3,4: Break (September 2-18)
  • Week 5,6,7: September 19 – October 5
  • Preview Day: October 6
  • Demo Day: October 10

Venue

  • The Design and Creative Center Kobe (KIITO): 1-4 Onohama-cho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan.

Conditions

  • Startups in Seed stage.
  • Startups in the following fields: B2B, B2C, E-Commerce, FinTech, EdTech, Health Tech, IoT, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, SaaS and Messaging Service.
  • Startups with traction, which already have a working product.
  • We accept startups of all sizes. However, multiple team members are preferable.

Number of Teams

20-25 teams

Applications

We are now accepting applications to the 500Kobe accelerator. If you are a startup interested in participating, apply here: 500kobe.com. To contact the team, reach out here: 500startups.kobe@gmail.com.

Program Summary

500 Startups will ring experts from our global team of partners, mentors and entrepreneurs to work closely with the startups to accelerate their development through best operational practices, growth hacking, data driven sales techniques and tailored advice from successful Silicon Valley and global entrepreneurs. Our main goal is equipping startups with the tools they need to become growth ninjas, to help get their startups to the next milestone.

Phase Zero: 500 Startups mentors will remotely mentor each team.

Mentoring: One-on-one mentoring by 500 Startups staff.

Lectures: Professional lectures on marketing, capital raising, product design, etc.

Community: 500 Startups creates an ecosystem for global startups to excel in.

Guest speakers: Special lectures lead by prominent guest speakers from Silicon Valley.

Please Note:

  • The program is conducted in English and we will provide simultaneous translation service.
  • Participants in this program will receive mentoring, growth hacking learnings, and access to 500 Startups’ extensive ecosystem without financial investment from the firm. However, 500 Startups will be monitoring the companies for potential future investment.

Support Team (mentors)

Dave McClure (500 Startups Founding Partner)

Zafer Younis (500 Startups Partner)

Marvin Liao (500 Startups Partner)

Arjun Dev Arora (500 Startups Partner)

Matt Ellsworth (500 Startups Distribution Partner)

 

About 500 Startups 

500 Startups is a global venture capital seed fund with a network of startup programs headquartered in Silicon Valley with over $330M in committed capital across 4 main funds and 13 micro funds. We have invested in 1,800 technology startups all over the world since our inception in 2010 including: Twilio (NYSE: TWLO), Credit Karma, Grab, Udemy, Ipsy, Talkdesk, Intercom, MakerBot (acq’d by SSYS), Wildfire (acq’d by GOOG), and Viki (acq’d by Rakuten). Our team of 150 people based in 20 countries manage seed investments across 60 countries and speak over 25 languages. The 500 Seed Program emphasizes internet marketing and customer acquisition, design and user experience, and lean startup practices and metrics in San Francisco, Mountain View, and Mexico City. The 500 Series A Program delivers growth marketing and investment for post-seed and Pre-Series A companies and runs in multiple locations globally. In addition to investments, we are passionate about helping build viable startup ecosystems around the world and run educational programs, events and conferences, and partnerships globally. Our investment team and mentor network has operational experience at companies such as PayPal, Google, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Twitter and Apple. In September 2015, we established a $30M (about 3.3 billion Japanese yen) 500 Japan Fund in 2015.

Website

 

500 Startups “Hacks Health” with Planned Parenthood Partnership

500 Startups has announced today a partnership with Planned Parenthood Federation of America to offer more opportunities for both growth and technology to be applied to Planned Parenthood’s digital health offerings.  Planned Parenthood will be sending its Spot On app team through the 500 Seed Program in 2017, which is known for its tactical approach to rapid customer acquisition, also known as “growth hacking”.

Spot On is Planned Parenthood’s free, award-winning birth control and period tracking mobile app that empowers people to take control of their period, their birth control, and their sexual health.  The goal of this partnership is to enable and empower more people to use Planned Parenthood digital tools to take charge of their health. The first project will be focused on Spot On. Subsequent projects will focus on other Planned Parenthood assets.

“We realized that 500 can help non-profits gain more reach and have an even bigger impact on the world by offering the same growth hacking resources we provide our startups,” said Rebecca Woodcock, EIR at 500 Startups. “Rather than do nothing, we decided to take action to positively affect the trajectory of the non-profits like Planned Parenthood, who has a mission we believe in.”

To kick off this ongoing relationship, Planned Parenthood and 500 Startups are planning a “growth hackathon” April 22-23 to help more people access the Spot On app. The partnership is part of Tech Stands with Planned Parenthood, an effort by tech leaders and innovators to show their support for Planned Parenthood’s health centers and patients and calling on their peers to do the same.

“We’re incredibly grateful for 500 Startups’ support of Planned Parenthood and thrilled to work with them to find new and innovative ways to share Spot On, our popular period tracker and birth control app,” said Jenny Friedler, Senior Director, Digital Product Lab at Planned Parenthood Federation of America.  “Planned Parenthood was founded on the radical idea that women should have the information and care they need to live strong, healthy lives and fulfill their dreams. Technology helps us bring that information and care to the millions of people who rely on us — whether they’re on their phones or in a health center.”  

500 Startups recently launched a digital health accelerator as part of their core seed program, lead by Rebecca Woodcock their Entrepreneur-in-Residence, a startup founder with direct experience in building healthcare and digital health related startups.

ABOUT PLANNED PARENTHOOD

Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With approximately 650 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.

Announcing Diversity Scholarship for VC Unlocked with Stanford CPD

Diversity is in our DNA 

Anyone familiar with 500 Startups knows diversity is one of our core values. 

We are concerned with the current “mostly male, mostly white” panorama in the VC world. According to TechCrunch, only 7% of senior partners at the top 100 venture firms are women and less than 1% are black or hispanic.*

At 500 Startups, our team comes from more than 20 countries, and we have invested in startups in over 50 countries. About half our team is female, and more than half are people of color. About half of us like peanut butter and jelly; the other half thinks disco dancing is still cool.

We look and act different from most other venture capitalists, and we kinda like it that way. Our founders are also diverse; we work hard to discover and invest in people who come from many different walks of life.

The most diverse (and the craziest) team of unicorn hunters in Silicon Valley

Diversity Multiplier Effect

In the past, we have offered scholarships to VC Unlocked to people traditionally overlooked in the VC world. Their participation in the program helped them catapult their careers in venture to success. Here are just a few examples:

Arlan Hamilton – Arlan became the first black woman to launch a syndicate on AngelList after participating in our program in 2014,  Her fund focuses on  black, latino, gay or female entrepreneurs.

Katherine HagueKatherine launched Female Funders after taking our program. Its an online community where female angel investors can get inspired, learn, network, and invest. The organization’s mission to empower 1000 women to make their first angel investment.

Pocket Sun and Elizabeth GalbutAfter meeting each other in our inaugural 2014 class, Pocket and Elizabeth co-founded SoGal Ventures, the first female-led millennial venture capital firm.

Pocket and Elizabeth, co-founders of SoGal Ventures

We are proud of all of our past scholarship recipients, who have used the knowledge and network they acquired in the program to really start tipping the scales in the venture ecosystem. 

We want to continue to be part of the solution.

Scholarship Details

This year, we will once again be offering ten 12K scholarships for VC Unlocked: Secrets of Silicon Valley Investing.

We run this two-week executive education program for investors in partnership with Stanford Center for Professional Development. It will take place July 24 – Aug. 4th, 2017 in Palo Alto, CA.

The scholarships are earmarked for accredited investors who have been traditionally under-represented in the VC industry, especially women and/or ethnic minorities.

We are looking to identify individuals who will use the knowledge learned in the program in order to build diverse innovation ecosystems in and around their community.

To qualify, applicants should fill out the main application form as well as the additional scholarship application on the program website: education.500.co/stanford. The scholarship application requires a short essay and a video about participation in the program will benefit the applicant’s community. 

*https://techcrunch.com/2015/10/06/s23p-racial-gender-diversity-venture/