Less than 3% of venture dollars went to female-led companies in 2019. For black and Latinx founders, that number dropped to 1%. Combining both factors, less than 1% of funding was directed to black or Latinx women-founded companies.
“That seems like a real misallocation of capital,” says Jemma Wolfe, head of Launch With GS. “So for us [Goldman Sachs], this is clearly an investment opportunity.”
The entrepreneur cohort program is a customized, 8-week virtual workshop with access too specialists across Goldman Sachs’ investment banking and research teams, curriculum on various subjects, such as market predictions, branded marketing, and legal expertise, as well as Goldman Sachs’ sprawling network of Fortune 500 companies, leading startup advisers and executives within the venture ecosystem.
Selected applicants will also collaborate closely with the program’s external advisory council, featuring the likes of Jennifer Hyman, CEO and cofounder of Rent the Runway, and Jewel Burks Solomon, head of Google for Startups in the U.S. and a 2016 Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree.
“Goldman is just one organization. We can’t do it along and we shouldn’t do it alone. There are a lot of incredible VCs and investors who are focused on this space and we really wanted to tap into the strength of that community and the work that everyone is doing,” Wolfe says.
At the culmination of the program, attendees will participate in an invite-only investor showcase, with attendees ranging from Goldman Sachs’ private clients to institutional clients, family offices and other venture firms.
“Whether or not these companies are looking for capital, we think it’s really important for them to be able to start building those relationships with investors early,” says Wolfe. “Even when thinking about our investing business, we always tell entrepreneurs that the time to get to know us is 12 months before you might actually need to engage. Really build those relationships over time.”
To be eligible, applicants but must own and operate a fintech, enterprise software, consumer or healthcare company based in the U.S. and have a 2020 projected annual run-rate revenue of at least $1 million.
This diversity initiative comes just one month after Goldman Sachs’ CEO, David Solomon, announced that the firm will no longer carry out IPOs for companies without at least one diverse board candidate. Since the start of Launch With GS, nearly two years ago, the company has invested $230 million globally.
“Our thesis is that if you invest in businesses with diverse management teams, they will outperform their peers,” Wolfe says. “But our long-term goal is for initiatives like Launch With GS to not exist anymore because the way people access capital, the way entrepreneurs are evaluated and the way investors think about their portfolio has become a more diverse and equal process that’s deeply embedded.”
Applications for the black and Latinx entrepreneurs cohort close on April 17, 2020.
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