The second annual Included VC fellowship tackles the lack of diversity in venture capital head on.
Notion Capital and Included VC 2021: The second annual Included VC fellowship tackles the lack of diversity in venture capital head on.
At Notion we challenge ourselves to think big. We want our firm to be a multi-generational, tier one fund, investing in the very best European tech entrepreneurs. We believe entrepreneurs can come from anywhere and are often outsiders. Yet European VCs – unlike the entrepreneurs they like to invest in – are largely from the same backgrounds, with similar life, work and educational experiences. If we as European VCs want to stay relevant, and continue to invest in the very best founders regardless of their background, we must change.
That is why we are delighted to be supporting Included VC 2021 as it announces its second annual and first global VC fellowship, along with our friends at Creandum, Daphni, Enern, K Fund, Mangrove Capital, M12, Seedcamp, Santander Innoventures and Wilson Sonsini. The fellowship will immerse 40 diverse fellows in the world of venture capital, with the ambition to prepare them for careers as VCs and tech investors.
Human potential is equally distributed, but venture capital clearly is not. What’s more, many overlooked communities – BAME founders, female founders, refugees, first-generation immigrants, disabled entrepreneurs, ex-inmates – are often far more entrepreneurial than the norm.
Chris Tottman, one of Notion’s founding partners, paved the way for this programme. Long a supporter of inclusion, diversity and pathway programmes, Chris had the idea of a VC Academy in late 2018 that had gained enormous traction; the simple idea being to give people the chance of a career in VC, which they may not otherwise have even considered a possibility. Perhaps even he did not realise at the time how far this programme would come and how much it would be needed. Now, more than ever, we need to take action to change our industry and ourselves for the better, tackling the pervasive lack of diversity in our industry.
“Venture Capital’s record of hiring and investing in people from diverse backgrounds is weak. The fact that opportunity is not distributed equally means the sector is missing out on a diversity dividend. The simple truth is, diverse teams win big and diversified funds win bigger as success comes with finding, investing and rapidly scaling outlier founders in under-invested markets. Like Included’s fellows, I have first hand experience of being an outlier, hailing from a working class background and leaving school at sixteen, so I understand that there’s huge value in being self taught and thinking in a different way to my peers.” Tottman continued, “The sector must welcome difference because the next generation of big outcomes will come from a community of outliers unlikely to be in their traditional networks - this was one of the drivers for founding Included VC and why so many VCs are investing in the programme.” Chris Tottman.
We, Nikita Thakrar, Chris and I, came together to found Included VC and recruited world-leading funds to join us. Together we launched Included VC 2020 in 2019 and the first cohort will graduate in October 2020.
That first cohort has been a revelation. We had received 1,400 applications from 99 countries for the 30 places available and the selection process was entirely blind. So the first time we met our inaugural fellows was at our kick off retreat in Berlin in 2019.
I approached the retreat with a degree of trepidation. Nikita had asked me the previous week if we could start planning the rest of the programme and also the subsequent years, but I pushed back and said, “let’s wait until the retreat is over.” After all, it was one thing to read about our fellows, but another to know them. I was also very conscious that we were working with 10 other VCs and desperately wanted them to have an incredible experience.
One by one our fellows introduced themselves at that inaugural event and I felt myself turning inward. Every single one had a story, a career, an education and a life experience that made me feel overwhelmed and, in many ways, inadequate. Who was I to think we were giving these people an opportunity. I had it the wrong way round, in fact, the real opportunity was for us - the VCs - to learn from 30 of the most extraordinary people I have ever met.
Our fellows came together through this fellowship with nothing in common other than incredible, perspectives, experiences and achievements. They all share grit, resourcefulness and a determination to succeed. But what has been most remarkable has been to see how they have come together to achieve a community, one with real power and authority. I imagine them as cheque writing VCs in the years to come, sharing deals and challenging each other to continue the change they helped to start.
Recruitment for our 2nd cohort, and our first ever global fellowship, starts now. The Included VC 2021 Fellowship will commence in October 2020 and end with its graduation ceremony in October 2021.
If the 40 Fellows for Included VC 2021 are half as good as the first cohort then together we’ll have the opportunity to achieve something extraordinary.
If you would like to learn more about Included VC:
Visit the site: https://www.included.vc/
Apply to join: https://app.beapplied.com/apply/zckbzlo0jz
If you are interested in sponsoring and supporting Included VC please do not hesitate to get in touch.