Updated: Feb 1
Initiative developed at AspenTech Policy Hub aims to close funding gap for underrepresented startup founders and emerging fund managers.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
SACRAMENTO (January 29, 2021) -- Tech Funding Equity Project (TFE) an initiative developed at the Aspen Tech Policy Hub, to close the funding gap experienced by diverse startup teams, launched a partnership with Emtrain, a company providing culture analytics and actionable insights for growth-stage tech companies. The partnership is designed to support the goal of increasing institutional funding to underfunded founders and emerging managers 10X by 2025.
The Tech Funding Equity project is lead by Emerging Manager, and Founding Partner of DiverseCity Ventures, Mariah Lichtenstern, who, in addition to working with founders on a daily basis, comes from an entrepreneurial background herself. Seeing inequities in startup culture as a set of policy problems, she devised a plan to apply technology to solve them. This includes the Tech Funding Equity Project’s Opportunity Pledge. It is designed for limited partners (LPs) and venture capital firms (VCs), and includes a framework that supports its implementation. More information is available at: https://techfundingequity.com/opportunity-pledge
The Pledge captured the attention and support of former Intel Ventures Partner, Cheryl Beninga, who co-founded FourthWave, a female tech founder accelerator that Emtrain participated in before raising $10 million to scale. Emtrain’s founder and CEO, Janine Yancey, was formerly an attorney working to solve labor and employment problems for tech giants like Google, Intuit, and a variety of start-ups. No stranger to policy, Janine has provided expert testimony and advice to state legislatures, helped shape policy within companies around harassment, diversity, and ethics, and produced compliance programs. “It just made sense to use technology to solve these issues within companies at scale,” Yancey explains. With Lichtenstern joining the board of FourthWave, Cheryl made the introduction to Yancey, and it was clear that a partnership was in order.
While Emtrain generally works with high growth company of over 200 employees, TFE addresses problems starting at startups’ pre-seed stage. “Studies show that culture is set by the time an organization reaches 15 employees. After that, an established culture must be ‘fixed’ - a much harder undertaking,” Lichtenstern says. Her thesis supports creating a cohesive, diverse culture early to create more opportunities for overlooked operators to build wealth and invest back in similarly overlooked founders.
Speaking of the pledge process, Lichtenstern explains that it begins with an assessment that, “walks them through the framework and says ‘here are the different areas, what are you doing in each of these areas? And here are some suggested activities. Are you doing any of these things?”‘ The Pledge assessment results serve as a benchmark that can be measured internally, and against the aggregated performance of peers externally. From there, participants can tap into Emtrain’s advanced tools. Venture Capital firms, can, in turn, influence their portfolio companies to introduce DEI tools like the Startup DEI Pledge.
“We spend $5 billion each year on harassment training for a problem we don’t diagnose, measure or benchmark,” says Yancey. “We pay an even higher cost for diversity issues.”
“In startups, the Center for Global Policy Solutions has found that over nine million jobs and $300 billion are lost in annual income due to discriminatory finance practices. We can’t afford to continue the cycle of economic oppression,” Lichtenstern asserts. “By closing the racial wealth gap, we’ll lift the entire economy,” she adds. The Emtrain/Tech Funding Equity project partnership intends to do its part.
Interested parties can find more information at the link, above.
About Tech Funding Equity: Developed by Founding Partner of DiverseCity Ventures, Mariah Lichtenstern within the Aspen Tech Policy Hub, the Tech Funding Equity project is designed to help close the early-stage funding gap for Black, Latinx, and/or female founders and other underrepresented groups. Venture capitalists bear the brunt of media criticism for demonstrated inequities in tech funding. A closer look reveals that the limited partners who invest in venture capital funds, and regulators who constrain capital formation, are also part of the larger, systemic problem.TFE proposes a twofold solution: 1) Address systemic racism put in place during the Great Depression; namely, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) definition of "accredited investor." This can help put an end to discriminatory barriers to capital formation and wealth creation based on unfair and unproven assumptions. 2) Increase funding to underrepresented founders and fund managers 10X by 2025 with the Opportunity Pledge to Accelerate Equity in Startup Opportunities. This pledge offers a framework for sustained effort and lasting change.
About Emtrain: Emtrain’s workplace culture platform reinvents compliance training with provocative content that sparks dialogue and unique culture analytics that drive individual and organizational behavior change. Emtrain.ai allows you to benchmark your culture against our global community to identify issues before they become toxic problems that become compliance issues and destroy culture. Emtrain partners with industry experts and uses current events to teach on topics such as sexual harassment, unconscious bias, and ethics. Emtrain’s innovative platform is used by more than 800 companies, such as Netflix, Yelp, Dolby, LiveNation, and others. Recognized by Fast Company on the “World Changing Ideas 2020” list, Emtrain is a woman-owned and women-led company.
Contact: Mariah Lichtenstern
Media and images available in Electronic Press Kit