London, England-based venture capital investment fund Fuel Ventures is anonymizing its pitch decks for the next three months in an attempt to remove any bias from its investment process. The trial was undertaken after the fund learned only four percent of the 4,000-plus pitch decks submitted to it over the past four years were from companies with female founders. It will report the results of the trial after those three months.
The initiative comes after founder Mark Pearson stated investment equality between male and female founders would not be reached ‘until 2040 at least’.
Just 13 percent of companies submitting pitch decks to Fuel Ventures include a female as part of the founding team. By anonymizing pitch decks, Fuel said it aims to address any unconscious bias in its own processes, and hopes the venture capital industry will follow suit in a bid to level the playing field for the UK’s future entrepreneurial success stories.
The identity of founding members will will be anonymized in each instance after submission by a small team before the principals making investment decisions view the investment decks, although previous founder success, often an important arbiter for a deciding investor, will be highlighted by sector and financial information. By judging the initial deck without any identifying personal information attached, proposals will be assessed without bias and judged on the merit of each idea, particularly in terms of traction and scalability.
Fuel Ventures is a venture capital firm specializing in providing seed funding to early stage technology companies. It invests in founders who have the ambition to build a global, market leading company, with the passion and ability to execute. Fuel provides entrepreneurs with expertise and insights in business development, marketing and brand-building through its experience of building, scaling and exiting global companies.
At present, Fuel Ventures is investing at the rate of one company a month, setting aside up to £2m per portfolio company.
Mark Pearson, Fuel Ventures founder, said:
“It’s ridiculous that such a gender imbalance even exists so we’re making a stand,” Mr. Pearson said. “By removing unconscious bias, we hope that Fuel will buck the trend and encourage not only female founders but also level the playing field for founders from all backgrounds.
“By assessing the initial deck without any personal information attached, ideas can be judged purely on merit, and any fears founders may have about discrimination will be quashed.”
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