Action 5

Finding What Works:

Pathways to Improve Diversity in Venture Capital Investment

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Ranked 5 out of 14 actions

Venture capital firms should use ‘office hours’ to network with and provide support to diverse entrepreneurs.

Overall effectiveness: Medium

Potential to connect venture capital firms to underserved founders; however, the impact of these connections is unclear

Target Audience

Venture capital firms seeking to increase investment in diverse groups of founders

Relevant investment stage

Seed, venture and growth

Ease of implementation

Medium – this action requires venture capital firms to set up and host office hours and engage meaningfully with founders.

Wider considerations

Office hours need to be carefully monitored and reported by individual firms to understand their effectiveness.

A column graph showing that more than half of the VCs scored this action a 3, more than a quarter scored it a 2 or 4, and the remaining scores were split between 1 and 5.
Venture capital firm ranking
A bar chart showing that more than half of entrepreneurs perceived this action as highly effective, while over a quarter perceived it as somewhat effective, and 13% as ineffective.
Entrepreneur perceived effectiveness

Perceived effectiveness score 1 = Least effective, 5 = Most effective

Findings by entrepreneur characteristics:

  • Venture capital-backed/venture capital-ready: A moderately higher proportion of venture capitalbacked entrepreneurs said this action was effective (59%), in comparison to venture capital-ready entrepreneurs (53%).
  • Gender: Limited variance was observed; a slightly higher proportion of female respondents said this action is effective or somewhat effective (88%) than male respondents (80%).
  • Education (socio-economic): Respondents that went to Elite, Russell Group or Top 100 International universities were more likely to say that this action is ineffective (25%), compared to those that went to a university outside of these groupings (16%).
  • Ethnicity: Ethnic Minority respondents were more likely to say this action was ineffective (18%) than White respondents (11%).
  • Age: 80% of respondents aged 30-39 years old said this action was effective, in contrast to 39% of respondents aged 60 or over. No major variance between other groups.

Venture capital firms’ feedback:

Many of the firms interviewed provide office hours for entrepreneurs and they are seen as an opportunity for venture capital firms to connect with and support underserved founders. They also help those who cannot attend evening networking events.

However, feedback suggests that, while office hours are helpful in providing feedback and one-toone support for underserved entrepreneurs, there is limited evidence that these interactions result in more deal flow to underserved founders.

The founders then get a chance to properly sit and talk with the decision makers. There's a lot of learning on both sides. Where we have found deals is exactly from these types of ‘women-focused’ founders hours.

Existing research:

  • There was limited evidence on the effectiveness of using office hours in improving diversity in venture capital investment. Four papers were identified, based on surveys and author opinions.
  • Holding office hours can be an effective way to broaden sources of deal flow beyond traditional channels and to also give back to the ecosystem (Diversity VC, 2019).
  • They can also help venture capital firms gain access to those entrepreneurs who may find the cost of attending industry events prohibitive (GenderSmart, 2021).