Friday, May 29, 2015

In Seattle we practice diversity

We recently had our first member dinner at Seattle Angel to celebrate the Seattle Angel Fund coming into existence, our first SAF investment, the great success of another Seattle Angel Conference, and of course the great investors and sponsors that make it all happen. Seattle Angel members consist of current and former investors from the Seattle Angel Fund and the Seattle Angel Conference.

We went for a formal dinner at one of the 100+ yr old social clubs in Seattle and about 20 Seattle Angel investors attended to get to know one another better, share some great food, and of course celebrate our progress. The conversation was great and I learned a lot about investors in the group. For example, I found out that one of our members wrote the network ROM for HP Calculators back in the day... I laughed, "Why would you need a network for your calculator?"... He went on to explain the use cases they were dealing with and I realized that HP was decades early to the Internet of Things. Timing obviously means a lot. Fine, I guess being a young guy has it's downsides. One of the older women angel investors in the group smiled at the story and started telling us about her early work life as an engineer using that specific calculator.

For some reason during the conversation, it struck me that our group was different than the media portrayal of angel investors and capitalists and it prompted me to write this post. Everyone keeps handing out kudos for speaking up about diversity, I'd like to see more people getting kudos for actually doing something and practicing diversity. For example, Jonathan Sposato recently keynoted the Seattle Angel Conference and announced that he will only invest in businesses going forward that include a female co-founder. That's #PracticingDiversity!

The investors and entrepreneurs that I interact with regularly have a wide mix of gender, nationality, color, age, and just about every other attribute you could throw in the mix to claim diversity. I wouldn't have even noticed except for the fact that this is a prominent topic of conversation amongst startups and tech in general. This week I was hearing the talk a lot. Maybe practicing diversity instead of just talking about it is more of a norm here in Seattle than in other ecosystems. Maybe that's one of the unique things about building companies and being an angel investor in the Northwest. There's a lot more practicing diversity here instead of just talking about it.

Btw, if you're thinking about becoming an angel investor or just want to learn more about being a great angel investor... Join the world renowned Susan Preston for Angel Portfolio 101 on June 9th @6PM. We'll cover the academic theory behind designing your portfolio and she'll be joined by Geoff Harris, Eric Doebele, and Josh Maher for a panel discussion with real life portfolio critique!