You’re likely familiar with the gender pay gap. Well, there’s also a very real and very large gender investment gap when it comes to startup founders who receive funding. It’s one of the statistics that you keep waiting to see improve, and it doesn’t really budge much from 2% — that is 2% of all investment dollars go toward women founders. Far, far less goes to women of color.

It’s an issue that’s both global and local. To be sure, we’ve seen some individual success stories. A couple examples: Lora Haddock, founder of Lora DiCarlo, raised $1.1 million last November for her innovative sex toy company. And Rita Hansen, CEO of Onboard Dynamics, has raised several million for her cleantech startup.

But for every woman founder who has raised, there are dozens more stories of founders who struggle to get noticed. They get asked different questions by often mostly male investment firms. The VC world remains between 82% and 91% male, according to different studies. The article I just linked to notes that whole landscape is complicated, but even as there’s been some exciting developments in the world of funding aimed at women, there’s still an insanely long way to go.

Personally, I’ve interviewed many, many female founders who have great ideas, solid experience, and need the important fuel of capital to really light up their company. Nearly to a one, they have crazy anecdotes about their fundraising experiences, their rare encounters with women investors, their ideas for women-focused products that male investors don’t quite get.

But one of the proven ways to get more women funded? Get more women involved with investing. Research shows that when women do the investing, more women get funded. Which brings me to an exciting local project that a couple of us are working on (thanks to Teri Hockett and Talena Barker) called Invested. The idea is simple: To introduce more women here in Central Oregon to startup and angel investing, provide education in a private, informal setting, and connect them — if they’re inclined — to local funds such as BVC, Cascade Angels, Founder’s Pad, and more that already doing great work supporting Oregon startups.

Investing is way to make a powerful difference in your own community. And before we get too far, yes, it can 100% be about making money. But it can also be about supporting your community in an innovative way. As an investor, you can:

  • Support a business that positively impacts our community or society or drives innovation that makes a difference in an area you care about.
  • Promote more women in leadership and create a business world that looks more representative of the real world.
  • Earn a potential financial return, which helps build wealth for you, your family and your community.

So if you’re an accredited investor, nearly accredited, wondering what accredited means, or not there yet, but maybe someday in the future, and you’re interested in learning about investing in startups and the many ways of doing so, then we’d love to meet.

As a first step, we’d like to assess your interest. Then we can gather as a private group, plan our curriculum (there’s a whole lot of great resources), and hopefully activate even more awesome angels in our community.

Your participation is confidential, and no commitment is required. Email [email protected]

Kelly Kearsley

Kelly Kearsley

Kelly Kearsley, the co-founder of StartupBend.com, is passionate about startups, entrepreneurship and Bend. In addition to writing this blog, she creates content and manages content projects for global financial companies, tech firms and startups. She began her career as a newspaper journalist and later worked as a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in WSJ.com, Money Magazine, CNNMoney, MSNBC and Runner's World. See her work at kellykearsley.contently.com or kellykearsley.com.

You can reach Kelly by email at [email protected].
Kelly Kearsley