On Wednesday, Eric Brodnock and John Lenhard published their book, “Better Venture: improving diversity, innovation and profitability in venture capital and startups”, which serves as a guideline for those seeking to increase diversity, equity and inclusion in the venture capital market.
The authors conducted more than 80 interviews to gauge how much progress there is — and isn’t — in the U.S. and European startup ecosystem, suggesting that the current venture capital funding model is archaic. They point out that in its current structure it resembles the economic model used by European slave traders. This perspective puts into context how, centuries later, black founders raise less than 2% of all venture capital funding.
“The diversity of an organization is really just the starting point. If you do the ‘D’ without the ‘I’ you immediately lose people because people don’t feel like they belong.” John Lenhard
Brodnock and Lenhard sat down with australiabusinessblog.com to discuss their book and what impact they hope to have on the industry.
Editor’s Note: This interview has been shortened and edited for clarity.
How did you meet and why did you decide to write this book?
JL: I started to dig a little more into diversity, equity and inclusion topics in the VC world. I did a few pieces for Crunchbase, mostly around women, and Erika was one of the people I talked to. As it turned out, there was a much bigger project that it felt like we had to start attacking immediately.
EB: I think the first piece we wrote together literally jumped out and hit the page. It was very easy. He wanted to explore writing this book and came up with a proposal. I quickly jumped in and started adding bits and said, “You know what, shall we take a look at the history of the business, a look at where we’re going and a look at where we’ve been?”
Personally, I’ve always had these bold ideas, and I’ve always wanted to change the system I’ve come up with, whether it’s edtech for kids or venture capital. I want to disrupt the system. [Johannes has] opened the doors for us to get, quite frankly, some of the most incredible people to speak to us, who are incredibly senior in the venture capital world. It was an absolute pleasure to create this book.