The assumption that all founders have access to 'friends and family rounds' still bewilders me. We need to develop an empathetic understanding that this is not accessible to all, and thus develop inclusive pathways that level the playing field.
These pathways look like community groups, diverse angels and early-stage pre-seed funds. Initiatives such as Natwest Back Her Business are making those first steps, the program match funds female founder crowdfunding campaigns. On YSYS pre-accelerator FoundersDoor, one of our alumni Emilia Servane Founder of The Good Hair Co, took part and was able to crowdfund £1,500 to which Natwest matched an additional £1,500 - this capital will now give her the ability to validate her ideas and move forward.
We need more impactful interventions like this to truly have a diverse and inclusive European startup ecosystem.
In November 2019, Notion, a European VC investing in early-stage SaaS and enterprise tech startups, published a comparison of people hired into leadership teams of B2B software $1B+ companies (unicorns) and B2B software companies that raised the same amount of VC money at the same time as unicorns, but did not enjoy the same levels of success. The research paints a useful picture of the diversity of leadership teams (Founders, C-level, EVP, SVP, VP) of these companies.