We need to listen more and figure out effective ways to invest in women. One way to identify women-owned businesses to fund is to partner with women working in the VC sector itself. This course of action has multiple benefits: We’re supporting women with and in venture capital.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Navin Goyal; managing partner and co-founder of LOUD Capital. Navin Goyal is an anesthesiologist who has been practicing for more than ten years in both hospital and ambulatory care settings. He is a co-founder of SmileMD, a mobile anesthesia company that is widening access to care and providing cost efficiencies across dental practices. Stemming in part from his expertise as an entrepreneur, he set off and became a co-founder of LOUD Capital, a Columbus, Ohio-headquartered venture capital firm with eight offices around the world and the US, including in Chicago. LOUD positions itself to be an entry into the venture capital community for both investors and entrepreneurs, primarily working with early-stage companies. LOUD also works to provide value to later-stage investors by mitigating risk with early-stage investments and portfolio management. Nearly half of LOUD’s portfolio companies are either women or minority-owned.
Thank you so much for joining us! 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?
LOUD Capital is conscious of those stats. First and foremost, venture capital needs to open its doors to all culture. This field is extremely enticing but very secretive in how it works: what happens in the decision-making process, getting investors. Since day one, LOUD has focused on showcasing how VC can apply to and benefit everyone. Of our portfolio companies, 48 percent are owned by minorities, including women. To address this issue — the lack of VC dollars going to women — LOUD Capital is developing a pilot women’s wealth innovation initiative that will expose women to and encourage them to engage with the global venture capital sector to create real impact. The goal of this initiative is to identify and collaborate with other VC entities that share our goals of women’s VC empowerment. We want the story to be about amazing entrepreneurs who happen to be women, rather than a story about “women entrepreneurs.” We look forward to partnering with existing, like-minded VC firms.
In addition, we host educational seminars and community events to educate and inspire, for example, on how to secure VC funding. Throughout our events, we market and document our progress.
One success story in our portfolio is SHARE, an on-demand microtransit service serving the greater Columbus area. Since its founding in 2016 by Hoa McManus, SHARE has created more than 100 new jobs and provides accessibility for thousands more people to get to their jobs. To put SHARE’s tremendous growth into perspective: in June 2018, the company was providing roughly 2,000 rides per month. Some four months later, that amount had grown to more than 17,000. SHARE’s monthly ride totals have continued to grow; and the startup plans to add three more cities to its service area soon.
LOUD also partners with universities to get students involved during the most formative stages of their careers. Education is the first step. Although it will take time to really change the landscape, we believe in long-term sustainable solutions. In the near term, we promote women’s advancement in our events by making it a point to have women on our panels, have them as guest speakers, working to increase women among our own staffing, and making an overall conscious effort to make the conversation more inclusive to include all cultures.
Can you recommend 5 things that need to be done on a broader societal level to close the VC gender gap? Can you please explain?
1.The VC sector needs to be intentional in providing capital to women entrepreneurs and create a business environment that welcomes women as leaders, rather than a reminder that they are an add-on to the business model of investing in entrepreneurs. According to the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), more than 11.6 million firms are owned by women, employing nearly 9 million people and generating $1.7 trillion in sales as of 2017. Women-owned firms (51 percent or more) account for 39 percent of all privately held companies and contribute 8 percent of employment and 4.2 percent of revenues.
2. We need to educate all people on VC. Having just an intention to invest in female entrepreneurs is neither sufficient or nor comprehensive enough. To build an ecosystem where women are part of the fabric, we need to include women when having talks, events, communication, and so forth. I’ve been to events where everyone talks about how to include women — yet none are present to give their input!
3. We need to have media highlight the great things women are doing out there, not in the context of just “hey look women are also doing this” but more of an approach along the lines of “look at this bad-ass individual who happens to be a woman.” Let’s focus on them being great entrepreneurs and the variation of ideas that diverse perspectives bring to the table.
4. We need to listen more and figure out effective ways to invest in women. One way to identify women-owned businesses to fund is to partner with women working in the VC sector itself. This course of action has multiple benefits: We’re supporting women with and in venture capital.
5. Ask non-VC people: The best way to get an outside perspective is to go outside. 🙂
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.
I feel I personally have that intention with LOUD. We are a VC firm educating and marketing what you can do in venture and how that applies to everyone. It’s actually a movement inspiring people to have ownership and to impact others around them for the betterment of society. That’s LOUD and I wouldn’t change that potential impact for anything. Everything we do at LOUD Capital is centered around our motto: “Venture for People.” I hope that ethos resonates through all our activities.
Who’s a female entrepreneur/ VC you respect and why?
Shiza Shahid is my new favorite entrepreneur. She was friends with Malala Yousafzai prior to her getting shot by the Taliban. When Malala recovered and wanted to start educating and empowering women, Shiza stepped up and said she would help her. Before the two of them met, Shiza had already been involved in education camps in Pakistan. She is now CEO of NOW Ventures, which supports mission-driven startups. I specifically like the program’s comprehensive model of building schools while educating different cultures on why women should be getting an education. It’s extremely aligned with the way we think at LOUD and how to build a sustainable impact.
Mentorship means an experienced person, in a specific field, supports, and guides another one towards success or a specific goal. In this sense, a successful person should be able to mentor another one independently of their gender. What do you think is the purpose and real impact of VC funds who focus their work on women and minorities? Don’t you think that this tends to confine specific groups making it even more difficult for them to have a seat at the table?
No, clearly we know there is a lack of people of color and women being represented in the VC space. It is important for women and people of color to see, and be mentored and learn from others who look like them and have experienced the unique challenges in gaining access to capital and resources. As a person of color, this is very important and is very relevant at LOUD Capital. In addition to our women’s initiative, we are in the process of creating a fund with Morehouse College, one of the foremost historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in producing African-American male scholars and global leaders to support students and alumni in entrepreneurship.
I think the intention to help all underserved populations should be in the DNA of the firm or institution in question. By creating an only women’s fund or minority fund, I feel like it suddenly takes away from the entrepreneurs and companies that are doing great things but not getting credit on their own.
That being said if it’s in the DNA of the company to incorporate diversity as part of its investment strategy, then having a fund-specific narrative may be preferred by certain fund managers, as long as that fund isn’t the only vehicle to support that specific group of people.
Can you share with us a specific anecdote about the positive impact you’ve had in this field?
Being a physician myself who has practiced anesthesiology for more than 12 years, I have pushed many other physicians to think outside the box. One thing that happens often is that people have said, “Wow you don’t speak like a doctor.” My response to that is that I have created my opportunity to speak on this platform and there are many other doctors who will soon be leaders in society beyond just the healthcare industry.
Another is one of my investors/friends who is a very successful orthopedic surgeon whose eyes have opened slowly to our mission at LOUD. He is now working alongside us. It’s very cool to see another physician join the team!
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. 🙂
I would love to have a meal with Bill and Melinda Gates. Their foundation is very inspiring to me and I would love to get some pointers on how to have a global impact but in a for-profit model. I know Bill and Melinda have been doing really big things in the nonprofit sector and I would ask them for their advice on how to do that within a VC context. I would ask if they would do things earlier or differently so that they could help inform the long, exciting and impactful journey ahead of myself.
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.