🗒️ Women and underrepresented founders aren’t going to wait for the VC industry to transform itself

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Techcrunch: Women and underrepresented founders are not going to wait around for the VC industry to transform itself, so what can be done in the meantime?

The organization I work for, Village Capital, recently worked with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), academic researchers, and a consortium of partners to identify ways to address discrepancies in investor behavior when evaluating startups.

Here are a few tips for founders based on our findings and other research studies, coupled with my experience providing acceleration support to over 100 underrepresented founders.

During the due diligence process, investors tend to ask women-led startups more risk- or prevention-related questions and men-led startups more growth- or promotion-related questions. A Harvard Business Review study found that the majority of entrepreneurs (85%) responded to questions in a manner that matched the question’s orientation — a promotion question leads to a promotion answer, and a prevention question leads to a prevention answer — which is problematic, as it perpetuates the cycle of bias in the Q&A process.

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🗒️ Venture capital funding in video games has fallen to a three-year low

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Video Game News: Venture capital funding in video games fell to its lowest in three years last quarter.

According to data from PitchBook as reported by Bloomberg, venture capital groups invested a total of $700.3 million in video games in the third quarter of 2023, which is the lowest since the second quarter of 2020.

The report points out that venture capital groups invested more than $2 billion every quarter for two years, up to the second quarter of 2022 when it hit a peak of $5.9 billion, but investment has since sharply dropped.

A number of factors are attributed to the drop, including the fallout from a boom in gaming during the Covid-19 pandemic which saw many people turning to video games to pass the time indoors.

Other factors include dying hype in Web3 and the metaverse, as well as an increase in layoffs, delays and cancellations across the games industry.

PitchBook analyst Eric Bellomo told Bloomberg that “game development is risky”, adding: “Having a small collection of games yields tremendous returns, but it’s very hard to pick those games at an early stage.”

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🗒️ Alaska Airlines launches aviation-focused startup program with Los Angeles venture lab

An Alaska Airlines plane at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The airline is partnering with UP.Labs to launch an aviation venture lab. (GeekWire File Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Geekwire: Alaska Airlines wants to help more startups take off.

The Seattle-based airline announced Thursday a partnership with UP.Labs to launch Airline Venture Lab, a new collaboration to create aviation-focused spin-out startups.

The partnership, announced at the UP Summit event in Dallas, plans to deliver its first startup by next year. UP.Labs said it will focus on building startups that solve various pain points in consumer aviation travel, including routing, aircraft maintenance, revenue management, guest experiences, and more.

“We know that sometimes our innovation comes from within our company, and sometimes it takes key partners to unlock,” Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci said in a news release.

UP.Labs operates under the umbrella of UP.Partners, a Los Angeles-area investment firm that also manages a venture capital fund called UP.Ventures. Alaska Airlines is a limited partner in the fund.

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🗒️ How to stretch your venture dollars

Image Credits: Builders Stage E. Slomonson The Photo Group (opens in a new window)Flickr (opens in a new window)under a CC BY 2.0 (opens in a new window)license.

Techcrunch: I didn’t know exactly where I was driving, but the sun was setting behind a field full of cows, the battery in my hybrid was nearly depleted, and the fuel light was blinking. I needed a plan.

Despite intermittent cell phone service, I navigated to a gas station, driving 5 miles per hour the entire way. If you’re managing runway at a seed-stage or Series A startup in Q3 2023, that’s what English majors call an allegory.

Follow-on financing is hard to raise these days, which means founders must watch their spending like hawks while keeping the peace with their investors like sweet, cooing doves.

Which proofs are investors looking for before they’ll commit to additional funding, what’s an acceptable burn rate, and how much runway do you need before raising more? At TechCrunch Disrupt, I spoke to three early-stage VCs to get their unfiltered advice for founders who are trying to keep the lights on long enough to reach product-market fit:

Anamitra Banerji, managing partner and founder, Afore Capital
Frédérique Dame, general partner, Google Ventures
Rick Yang, partner and head of technology, NEA

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Top 3 book summaries this week 📚

When Buyers Say No by Tom Hopkins
Through their work, the authors have found 8 different reasons why a prospect might tell you “no” when they really mean something else.
Learn these 8 reasons, and what you can do about it, and you’ll be on your way to making more sales than you ever thought possible. Most importantly, there are no manipulations or aggressive moves required.

The Leadership Gap by Lolly Daskal
In her book, The Leadership Gap, Lolly Daskal introduces us to a system of seven archetypes that will help you view yourself objectively so you can identify the gaps you face as you work towards greatness.
You will see parts of yourself in each of these archetypes and in what Daskal calls leadership gaps. These gaps sometimes lead us to the “shadow side” of our leadership archetypes, ultimately holding us back from becoming successful.

Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Although there are no hard and fast rules for living a life you love, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has uncovered 8 elements for finding meaning in everything you do - including your job.

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