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5 Ways to Close the VC Gender Gap, with Drew Leahy and Tyler Gallagher

Closing the gender gap is about creating the women leaders of tomorrow right now. The ‘movers and shakers’ that make great entrepreneurs need to be cultivated throughout our society — youth organizations like Scouts, at the high school level, at the university level, and also in the workplace. How can we better support women leaders? Especially, those […]


Closing the gender gap is about creating the women leaders of tomorrow right now. The ‘movers and shakers’ that make great entrepreneurs need to be cultivated throughout our society — youth organizations like Scouts, at the high school level, at the university level, and also in the workplace. How can we better support women leaders? Especially, those who show a propensity to learn quickly, execute, and drink knowledge through a firehouse? These types are the entrepreneurs of tomorrow who typically show these very signs ambitious signs at an early age.

As part of my series about “the five things we need to do to close the VC gender gap” I had the pleasure of interviewing Drew Leahy, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Hawke Ventures. Drew Leahy is Managing Director and Co-founder of Hawke Ventures, an early stage consumer and B2B marketing technology fund. Prior to Hawke, Drew was Chief Marketing Officer and Co-founder of SnapSuits.com, a tech-forward men’s fashion e-retailer with over $2M+ in revenue. He leveraged his seasoned product team, based in Colombia, South America, achieving an 8x ROI with technology enabled marketing strategies. Drew was also Entrepreneur in Residence at memBrain in Los Angeles, making investments with tech and entertainment angel investors Ken Hertz and Liz Heller. Originally from Brighton, MI, he graduated from the University of Michigan and is the 2010 Ross School of Business Entrepreneur of the Year.


Thank you so much for joining us, let’s jump right in. According to this article in Fortune, only 2.2% of VC dollars went to women in 2018. Can you share with our readers what you or your firm is doing to help close the VC gender gap?

Supporting women and minorities is absolutely a part of our investment agenda, considering media and technology covers a massive swath of consumers and perspectives. Our first investment out of the Hawke Ventures fund was Steereo, a technology company run by two Irish women. We fiercely believe in their vision, as well as their day-to-day handling of operations.

Can you recommend 5 things that need to be done on a broader societal level to close the VC gender gap, and explain?

Closing the gender gap is about creating the women leaders of tomorrow right now. The ‘movers and shakers’ that make great entrepreneurs need to be cultivated throughout our society — youth organizations like Scouts, at the high school level, at the university level, and also in the workplace. How can we better support women leaders? Especially, those who show a propensity to learn quickly, execute, and drink knowledge through a firehouse? These types are the entrepreneurs of tomorrow who typically show these very signs ambitious signs at an early age.

1. Teach and encourage entrepreneurship at the youth level to organizations that are powered specifically for women

2. Focus on the qualities of successful entrepreneurs, noting that there is no “one size fits all” personality or quality for entrepreneurs (notice how different Tim Cook and Steve Jobs are?) — women from all types of life and background can succeed.

3. Continue to add and attract female GP’s to investing positions at funds

4. Support programs for women’s leadership programs within cities and towns where women leaders are organizing

5. Quickly promote women internally in organizations who are performing above their peers

Empowering girls in mixed environments is important too, as it’s important to also nurture and supports girls where they feel most comfortable — which many times is in groups geared specifically toward them.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

One of the best things you can do for people is signal that you have their back. Waving a flag in the air saying, “We see you, we hear you, we support you, we will fund you” is a great way to start. Our investment with Anne and Jennifer who run Steereo represents our ability to see and hear female entrepreneurs who have a big vision for the future while executing that vision along the way,

Who’s a female entrepreneur/ VC you respect and why?

Jesse Draper is doing amazing things for female entrepreneurs and does a fantastic job representing the top tier of female focused investing. She is a great figure for the LA investment community and beyond.

What do you think is the purpose and real impact of VC funds who focus their work on women and minorities?

There’s research from the 1950s that says we tend to trust and work with people are most like ourselves. Homophily, coined by a social scientist named Lazarsfeld (article), is a perfect explanation for why the investment world has been a “boys club” for many years. The investment world at large can break that mold and find other commonalities in VC/investing to latch onto at the founder level. Interestingly enough, since female focused VC funds have a natural homophily, the impact there is great for female entrepreneurs and the market as large.

Furthermore, investors tend to lean towards specific personality types. But there are many personality types and paths to the C-suite. All different people and their journeys should be supported. From a social sciences perspective, we see women being “socialized” in either a typical way or a non-typical way. The archetypes that emerge (cheerleader vs softball player vs video gamer vs debate captain, etc.) should theoretically all be supported equally, as each archetype brings a certain level of optics, perspective, and vision to their fields of interest. VC funds who have a focus or thesis around women and minorities do a great job of supporting this notion that we can embrace a broader swath of human beings that can and will be successful.

Can you share with us an anecdote about the real impact you’ve had in this field?

Hawke Media (a partner, sponsor, and investor with Hawke Ventures) has a leadership team that is 41% women in a company of over 150 people, with 50% of the hires in the last 12 months also being women. Our first investment from our venture capital fund was Steereo, a company run by two women. We will continue to see, hear, and support female entrepreneurs in technology and business.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Mark Cuban’s mentality towards business and investing is fantastic. He represents both entrepreneurs and investors extremely well, playing both side of the table. Since our background at Hawke Ventures is based on starting businesses of our own, I think Mark would totally understand and complement our DNA.

Thank you for all of these great insights!

About The Author:

Tyler Gallagher is the CEO and Founder of Regal Assets, a “Bitcoin IRA” company. Regal Assets is an international alternative assets firm with offices in the United States, Canada, London and Dubai focused on helping private and institutional wealth procure alternative assets for their investment portfolios. Regal Assets is an Inc. 500 company and has been featured in many publications such as Forbes, Bloomberg, Market Watch and Reuters. With offices in multiple countries, Regal Assets is uniquely positioned as an international leader in the alternative assets industry and was awarded the first ever crypto-commodities license by the DMCC in late 2017. Regal Assets is currently the only firm in the world that holds a license to legally buy and sell cryptos within the Middle East and works closely with the DMCC to help evolve and grow the understanding and application of blockchain technology. In addition to his role with Regal Assets, Tyler is a regular contributor to Forbes, Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global and Authority Magazine. Tyler has also been featured in many news publications and has been a guest expert on “The News with Ed Shultz”. Tyler is a proud member of the Forbes Finance Council a private invite only-group of hand-selected industry leaders.

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