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What It’s Really Like to Risk It All in Silicon Valley

Before Nathalie Miller decided to walk away from Instacart, the grocery delivery start-up now worth more than $2 billion, she made a spreadsheet to analyze how much money she was leaving on the table.

She had been Instacart’s 20th employee, managing operations during a period of extremely rapid growth, and the sum could have been huge. She quit anyway. Like many strivers in Silicon Valley, she had a bigger plan: to start her own company that could not only make millions, but also fulfill a mission she believed in.

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"Venture capitalists, who hold the keys to success in Silicon Valley by providing start-up money, are even more likely to be white and male than tech company employees are. Theirs is an insular business. Most investors accept pitches only from entrepreneurs who come through an introduction, and they tend to finance people who have succeeded before, or who remind them of those who did.

According to a 2014 study published by the National Academy of Sciences, investors prefer pitches by men, particularly attractive men, to those by women, even when the content of the pitch is the same. In addition to studying the results of three entrepreneurial pitch competitions, the researchers conducted two experiments in which a representative sample of working adults heard identical pitches in male and female voices. Sixty-eight percent of people preferred to finance the company when it was pitched by a male voice, while 32 percent chose the female.

Venture firms with female partners are three times as likely to invest in a company with a female chief executive, according to the Diana Project at Babson College. Yet just 6 percent of partners at venture capital firms are women.

Because of investors’ lack of diversity, they do not necessarily understand the value of companies that make products for customers who are not like them, said Tristan Walker, founder and chief executive of Walker & Company, which makes health and beauty products for minorities, including the Bevel razor. On his first pitch, the investor told him she didn’t think shaving irritation was a big enough societal issue.

“All she had to do before she said that was get on the phone with 10 black men or women and eight or nine would have said, ‘This is an issue I’ve had to deal with my entire life,’” Mr. Walker said."

They make a good point.

It's tough for anyone to successfully create a company but with these extra factors it's even harder. 

Not to be unkind, but I don't trust anyone who says they made a spreadsheet of all the money they were leaving on the table. Instacart is a prime candidate to be a bust, they had such a high valuation and need so much capital and have some other issues. They recently laid off ALL their recruiters, which is never a good sign.

Also it's not that easy to get financing these days for any kind of recruiting site because they are thought to have limited upside.

Points taken, Joyce.

It's not easy to get funding for anything these days, as Sam Altman says in the article.

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