Growing up in a working-class family, I did not see investors nor entrepreneurs. My mom was a bank teller. My dad was a postal worker.
What I did see was my parents take great personal risk to invest in the future of their children. Maybe that’s why I work so hard or more women and underrepresented and underestimated people to be investors and entrepreneurs and for more people to be able to access the resources they need to survive, thrive, and be happy.
When my mom was my age, she did a courageous thing. After 17 years of being a stay-at-home mom, she got new training and returned to the workforce. And now I’m following in her footsteps and getting new training! However, the goal is far bigger and I hope to help more people as a result.
Stepping Into the Belly of the Beast
I have been accepted to VCUnlocked at Stanford University, an intensive investor training program. It is a highly sought after program, meant to educate and accelerate early-stage investors and venture capital managers. Having successfully passed a competitive application process, I have the rare opportunity to access and connect with leaders from a global network affiliated with Stanford University and 500 Startups. Incredible leaders like Arlan Hamilton of Backstage Capital and Pocket Sun and Elizabeth Galbut of SoGal Ventures graduated from this program and went on to help hundreds of women and underrepresented entrepreneurs.
Through this program I hope to:
- Find aligned partners and potential investors for Pique’s second fund focused on tech for good and leadership diversity,
- Get help and mentorship,
- Gain insights into how I could manage and lead Pique better.
Fighting for equity, inclusion, and taking care of people and the planet feels so hard sometimes - like I’m pushing a boulder up a mountain.
I founded Pique Ventures to move money in a more purposeful way and to enable a more diverse community of investors. We’ve been around for 7 years and now it’s time to level-up. Please help me do that.
"Talent is equally distributed, opportunity is not." Leila Janah
You may have seen some of the stats about women in the VC industry:
- Only 2.2% of venture capital went to women-led companies.
- Less than 15% of venture capital partners - the people making the investment decisions - are women.
- Women hold only 9% of startup equity.
And if we look at the numbers for minorities and people of color, they are even smaller.
Although personal savings and bank debt are the main sources of startup capital, venture capital is still an important source of capital for startups. Venture capital-backed businesses affect us significantly because they are supplying your banks, your grocery stores, your news outlets, your social media platforms, your healthcare providers, your schools, and your employers, just to name a few.
Women and minorities are underrepresented, underestimated, and almost shut out of the VC industry. Their perspectives are not adequately taken into account when products are made or services are delivered. It means products and services are not designed with us in mind - and that leads to dissatisfaction, inconvenience, or worse yet safety risks.
It Takes a Village
I spoke with McKeever (Mac) Connell, II, co-manager of the Build Fund at the Maryland Technology Economic Development Corporation, who will be attending VC Unlocked as well.
He said something that really resonated with me. An entrepreneur had said to him, "The community I come from it’s a sign of weakness to ask for help and money.” I feel this too - people seek my advice and help all the time and I love helping people. When it comes to asking for help, I recoil in shame. However, I realized that this had to change. In order for me to help more people, I can’t do this alone.
Help me access the training, resources, and connections needed to scale these impacts and outcomes. I’m hoping I’ll gain new insights that will help us grow Pique to be able to help even more women and underrepresented entrepreneurs.
About Me (Bonnie Foley-Wong)
I'm the founder of Pique Ventures , an impact investment firm investing in a diverse community of leaders building early-stage companies that care, connect, and protect. I have over 20 years of experience of advising and financing entrepreneurs in Europe and North America. I wrote and published Integrated Investing: Impact Investing with Head, Heart, Body, and Soul and I have been published in Business Insider, Time, Inc., Forbes, Huffington Post, Apple News, Green Money Journal, and National Observer. I'm passionate about developing the next generation of entrepreneurs and finance professionals and often give my time as a mentor to emerging leaders and startup founders.
I serve on the Board of the Women’s Enterprise Centre of BC. In 2018, my efforts to create a more diverse community of investors and entrepreneurs was recognized by the YWCA Women of Distinction Awards, in the category of Entrepreneurship & Innovation. This year, I'm a nominee for a Startup Canada Entrepreneur Promotion Award, and a nominee in the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards. I'm also qualified as an alpine ski instructor and puts my decision-making and negotiation skills to use with my two children!
About Pique Ventures and Our Impact
I built Pique Ventures to change the ratio and with our first fund, we invested in 7 women-founded tech ventures in Vancouver with the backing of 41 investors - 32 of which are women, representing 75% of the capital. Around a third of our investors identify as people of colour.
Looking at all the members of the management teams of our portfolio companies, 42% are women (more than 3 times better than the industry average of 13%). 26% are people of colour (I don’t know what the industry average is because it’s really challenging getting business owners and leaders to even gather this data!)
Pique has inspired others to invest in and with impact. We’ve helped and championed entrepreneurs through big changes, tough decisions, and success on their terms. It’s through Pique’s business model that I’m able to provide help and advice to people who don’t have the resources nor experience yet.
Who We Help
Since we launched our first fund in 2014, Pique Ventures invested in seven women-founded ventures including:
- Jessica Regan - who is using technology to divert food waste from landfill and reducing CO2 emissions at FoodMesh .
- Jennifer Li Chiang - who is disrupting influencer marketing at MuseFind .
- Christine Sommers - who is innovating how we connect and find each other during emergencies at ePACT Network .
- Catherine Dahl - who is disrupting accounting software at Beanworks .
- Dr. Alexandra Greenhill - who is leveraging technology to make care patient-centred and collaborative at Careteam .
And we want to help many more entrepreneurs!
We’re investing in companies that reduce inequalities and level the playing field.
We want to invest in more companies that help make our planet and natural resources last longer and for future generations.
About VC Unlocked
VC Unlocked at Stanford University is a 2-week residential educational program, led by 4 faculty members from Stanford University (Michael Lepech, Mike Lyons, Trevor Loy, and Pedram Mokrian), alongside Christine Tsai and Bedy Yang from 500 Startups. It is an invite-only investor training program for emerging leaders who want to shape the future of the venture capital industry.
VCUnlocked attracted leaders from around the world, not just the Bay Area:
- They encouraged a diverse group of leaders, especially women and underrepresented investors to apply.
- They included managers of impact funds.
- They sought mutual contribution - participants can shape the conversation, we’re not going to just be talked at.
I plan to run this fundraising campaign starting May 6th and ending on June 12th with the goal of raising $40,000 - that’s just 400 people contributing $100 each. Or just 160 people contributing $250! Any amount that you contribute is valued and appreciated.
BY DONATING to this fundraiser, you are supporting the empowerment of more women and underrepresented and underestimated people to be investors and entrepreneurs. *Note = those who donate in the first 10 days will get 3 ebooks as a special thank you (Integrated Investing and my 2 upcoming books, Capitalize and What Counts (working titles).)
BY SHARING this opportunity with your friends and colleagues through email, social media or word of mouth, you are contributing to advocating for leadership diversity in the venture capital and startup ecosystem. Each and every one of us plays an important role in transforming the venture capital ecosystem and I wish you would be able to take part in changing how women & underserved entrepreneurs get funded.
We thank you for your generous donation. Your support is greatly appreciated.
Uses of Funds (in %)
92.5% towards the cost of attending VCUnlocked at Stanford (the majority of this is program fees, but also includes travel and accommodation).
7.5% transaction fees and extras.
The program fees must be paid well in advance and so we need to raise the funds immediately.