Yesterday morning, we announced a strategic partnership with OpenView Venture Partners. Here’s why we’re excited about it: It’s rare to walk into a room of people you’ve never met and, 10 minutes into the conversation, realize that you have the same values and agree on all the major issues plaguing our industries. It’s even more rare to actually do something about it, but that’s exactly what happened. If my meeting with OpenView were a first date, I’d definitely be calling up to take them out a second time.
As OpenView partner Devon McDonald elegantly (if bluntly) put it, “It’s no secret that the tech community suffers from a diversity problem” (#understatementoftheyear). Most tech offices are a sea of twenty-something, stubble-bearded, white dudes. I’m one of them, and the first to admit that it holds us back.
So as I sat in a room where I was the minority (as I am at Startup Institute where 60% of the team are women) it hit me that I was with a VC firm that practices what they preach. As Startup Institute cohort demographics average at 41% women, 35% students of color, and ages that ranged from 18-55 this spring, we do too. But, we all still have a long way to go, and that’s why we’re joining forces.
OpenView’s support will help Startup Institute to build a more robust program that continues to prioritize this big industry issue, as we co-host events and develop content targeted around bringing social progress and greater opportunity to the innovation sector. As our joint efforts guide SI students and alumni in career development and thought-leadership, our initiatives will also be focused around opening up conversations around these issues and attracting more diversity to the tech industry as a whole.
In the meantime, this partnership gives our students and alumni the opportunity to join the teams in OpenView's portfolio of backed startups, while OpenView gets direct access to our diverse community of startup-ready graduates. Not to mention that our students, while in-program, get the benefit of peeking behind the curtain of the VC world just as they’re entering the startup community—another valuable rarity.
This partnership is a milestone for both of our organizations, and we couldn’t be more excited to tackle some big problems—offering promising early-stage companies the talent they need to scale, bringing greater diversity and perspective to the innovation economy, and making the startup community in Boston and beyond stronger, together.
You can read the full press release here.