By: Jess Erickson
We’re excited to announce the return of our flagship VC training program, Venture Capital Unlocked: Secrets of Silicon Valley Investing (formerly called IGSVI). 500 Startups, in partnership with the Stanford Center for Professional Development, will be once again running this popular two-week program. In this program, individuals will learn 500s investment playbook and gain firsthand access to world-famous Silicon Valley VCs, Angels, SV startups and entrepreneurs (including 500’s portfolio). This session will run from February 8-19, 2016. For more information and to apply, please visit: 500.vc/apply
500 Diversity Scholarship
We’re pleased to announce that we will be offering several 12K scholarships to selected investors from backgrounds that have been traditionally underrepresented in venture capital, including women and candidates from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds and geographies. Candidates must have an investment budget of less than 1M to qualify for the Diversity Scholarship.
In the spirit of recognizing some of our diverse participants (and hopefully encouraging more to apply), we’ve highlighted three women that have taken their careers to new heights with the applied knowledge of this program. In the second part of this series, we sat down with Pocket Sun, Founding Partner of SoGal Ventures.
Can you please tell us a little bit about your background?
I grew up in China and moved to the US for college. Before VC Unlocked, I founded SoGal, a global platform to empower and inspire the next generation of diverse entrepreneurs. In the process of working with many female-led startups, I learned first hand and researched how bad the gender issue is in entrepreneurship and in venture capital. VC Unlocked was the perfect program to immerse me into Silicon Valley and the VC world.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently in Singapore, working towards raising SoGal Ventures Fund I, while expanding SoGal to Asia. SoGal Ventures is the first female-led, cross-border millennial venture capital firm investing in diverse entrepreneurs in both the US and Asia.
Are you using any of the concepts taught at the program in your work today?
I met my Founding Partner Elizabeth Galbut at VC Unlocked. We were both inspired by what we learned and whom we met, and realized that there needs to be pioneers to improve the gender disparity issue in venture capital. We were able to learn a great deal from our fellow classmates who are experienced VCs or angel investors, and decided to take actions and lead by example. I also really liked 500’s investment approach – big portfolio, small bets. It’s a great model for a microVC fund like the one we’re building.
If you had to name one key outcome of the program, what would that be?
Meeting everyone in the program was fantastic. We were 34 investors from 15 different countries, and half were female! You don’t see that anywhere else. I really appreciated 500’s efforts to improve the gender ratio, and bring interesting people together. I learned a lot about the startup ecosystems in many parts of the world.
What advice do you have for women who are interested in becoming investors?
Start small. As Jason Calacanis said, “Beg founders to let you in at a small dollar amount, and then 10x outperform your money to serve the company. Know the risks and enter it with eyes wide open – you may not get all your money back!” Investing in early stage companies has a lot to do with identifying the right person, so start from someone you trust for a referral or attend startup events to see what’s out there.
Missed the first part of the series? Learn more about Paula Schwarz’s journey after completing VC Unlocked.