Women representation – or the lack thereof, in tech has always been a thorny issue; thankfully, there has been an emergence in women-led platforms such as Glassbreakers and Plum Alley that aim to shake up the status quo.
e27 speaks to Pocket Sun, the Founding Partner of SoGal Ventures and a recipient of a Forbes 30 under 30 award under the ‘Finance & Venture Capital’ category. She is tackling this pain point in the venture capital scene to correct the poor gender ratio in the tech industry.
How she started
Prior to the founding of SoGal Ventures, Sun first hosted conferences such as the SoGal Summit and SoGal Startup Bootcamp; helping many young women get inspired to pursue tech, discover actionable steps and meet role models in technology.
She then attended ‘The Venture Capital Unlocked Program’, or ‘VC Unlocked’, a training course started by 500 Startups and the Stanford Center for Professional Development.
At this programme Sun was able to network with investors from global markets, as well as meet her future business partner, Elizabeth Galbut.
The inspiration to start her own VC firm came during the process of building SoGal’s global community, where Sun was able to meet many female founders and hear their stories and problems.
Chief among their concerns was funding – which is no surprise. Only a single-digit percentage of founders who get VC funding are women.
Sun then partnered with Galbut, and together they would establish SoGal Ventures in July 2015, with the aim to improve gender diversity in the VC space.
SoGal Ventures is the first millennial cross border venture capital firm to be led by women.
“I saw it as a huge opportunity to bring innovations to the venture capital industry and create opportunities for women who seek funding or a VC career,” says Sun
SoGal Venture’s vision
SoGal’s mission is focussed on tech innovations built by and for the millennial generation. The VC firm is built on the goal of funding Founders who solve global problems, not those who make minor improvements.
The SoGal network’s social map is connected with some of the coolest global communities of young entrepreneurs, including Forbes 30 Under 30, Global Shapers by World’s Economic Forum, 3 Billion Under 30, Crazy Ones, and both partners’ prestigious university networks.
(Sun attended The College of William and Mary for undergrad and University of Southern California for graduate school, while Galbut went to Georgetown University before achieving and MBA from The Johns Hopkins University).
This gives them a huge advantage in capturing entrepreneurs while they’re early and hungry.
SoGal Ventures aims to fund startups in verticals such as consumer tech and digital healthcare because that is what Sun and her business partner Elizabeth Galbut are most familiar with.
“We also believe some SaaS companies are best positioned to improve global interconnectivity, which enables Elizabeth and I to work together effectively while in two different continents. Early stage investing is mostly about the entrepreneurs, and we are best positioned to discover and support the ones we believe in.”
The ideal VC model
While Sun has established herself in the VC world, she doesn’t think that an ideal model for a VC exists.
“Honestly, VC is such a young industry that there’s so much more to explore. If we only follow existing models, there’s no way we can create exceptional returns. We’re constantly trying to disrupt ourselves and encouraging others to do the same.”
The obvious challenges that arise mostly come from fundraising, but Sun remains positive.
“We’re fighting the battle right now with full commitment and conviction. Whatever it takes, we’ll get it done.”
And there’s no stopping Sun when it comes to her goals, even when numerous obstacles come her way.
“Anything we do now will become history one day, to inspire other women and minorities to step into the game. So we’re in full force! The other day a young male VC who recently raised a fund told me that he really wants to see me succeed, because he hopes his future daughter would have role models that will make her believe she can do anything. I was so touched!”
Also Read: Why women entrepreneurs aren’t always honest
What’s in store for Sun and her team for the future?
The future is looking bright for Sun. In 2016, she will be involved in hosting Her Startup, the first global female-focussed startup competition.
These initiatives will serve to raise awareness for diversity in tech and venture capital.
Sun believes that the tech industry needs to see more women leaders in the space to make it more accessible to younger women , and make tech less of a male-dominated industry.
Image Credit: LadyBoss.Asia
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