Startups should be an equal opportunity sport

It was great to see some amazing women join this year’s AngelCube program, with three of the six teams having female co-founders.


Prior to the program, AngelCube co-founder Adrian Stone declared he didn’t think enough was being done to foster diversity and that he was willing to “put his money where his mouth is” and offer up a $10,000 grant to Startup Victoria, should one team with a female-led founder make it into AngelCube.


He also offered the team that made it into the program an additional $1,000, with that grant going to the program’s first all-female team.


Now that the AngelCube program has wrapped up for the year, Stone has written about what has happened as a result of that initiative and what more he thinks needs to be done.


Here is the post in full (republished with his permission):

Earlier this year, I wrote about my plan to donate $10k to Startup Vic if just one female-led team made it into AngelCube’s 2014 cohort.


That happened and the grant was made, and I’ll wait – along with everybody else – to see what comes of it. I know that plans are already afoot (but, I’ll leave it to Startup Vic to make their own announcements when ready).


It was mainly for two reasons:


1. Out of the 19 startups that we (AngelCube) accelerated through to the end of 2013, only two female founders participated.


2. Founders Institute trumpeted their Female Founders Fellowships which amounted to little more than some discounts on their fees and a small $1k prize.


So, I went on a bit of a Twitter rampage and tried to stir up some mud, with mixed results …


Fast forward to 2014 and AngelCube had three teams with female-led founders, including one all-female team. Sadly, I can’t take credit; it was just the universe karmically rebalancing.


Brandspot, as Kate and Amanda’s amazing startup is called, won my personal $1k grant, which was in addition to the $10k that Startup Vic also received, but either of the other two female founder-led teams could easily have taken the prize.


All of which goes to highlight a point that I have been making all along …


Startups should be an equal opportunity sport.


For me, I would never like to see an end-game where there is either affirmative action or negative action – both of which, to me, are just forms of discrimination – when it comes to launching, funding, and scaling Australian startups.


Alas, AngelCube’s current cohort aside, the gender-unbalanced shape of the Australian (probably the world’s) startup ecosystem doesn’t yet support my dream; hence the grants.


Whilst I failed to get Founders Institute or Scale or any of the others that I hassled to match my donation (yet!), FI did manage to bring me on board as an occasional mentor … I guess Matt Allen’s simply a better negotiator than me.


I’ll do another update when Startup Vic announces their ‘more female founders’ strategy … stay tuned!”


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