A delegation of Indian women entrepreneurs met Bay Area Venture Capitalists in Los Altos during their visit to the San Francisco Bay Area. Local entrepreneur Malvika Bawri had organized this event that featured a fireside chat with tech billionaire Vinod Khosla. A smiling, urbane Khosla gave practical advice to the visiting entrepreneurs, “Become good storytellers. Story-telling is as important as the substance of the pitch.”
He was followed by several prominent Indian American VCs who introduced themselves to the delegation, telling them what they look for in determining which ventures to fund. Angel investor Dipty Desai spoke about her new initiative, FalconX, which seeks to be a bridge between India and the U.S. for women entrepreneurs.
The Indian delegation was accompanied by senior leaders, Dilip Chenoy, Director General, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Anna Roy, Advisor NITI Aayog and others. Anna Roy is heading a $1.3 billion fund that NITI Aayog is launching in March 2018 to support women entrepreneurs in India.
Niti Aayog and FICCI organized this trip as a follow-up to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit held in Hyderabad last November. Advisor to the President, Ivanka Trump, had headlined the United States delegation to the Summit. The summit highlighted the theme Women First, Prosperity for All, and focused on supporting women entrepreneurs and fostering economic growth globally.
This is particularly interesting as women entrepreneurs in the Bay Area complain against the Valley’s bro culture that keeps them out of the venture capital sand box. Women only received $1 billion of the $64 billion meted out in venture capital last year, pointed out Indian American Venture Capitalist Shelly Kapoor Collins, founding partner of the Shatter Fund, which invests primarily in start-ups founded by women.
Emily Chang in her book “Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley,” had highlighted the double standard applied to women in Silicon Valley. Chang has called out the “hypocrisy” of tech leaders who talk a big game about their own ambitions and talents but have been reluctant to make simple moves toward equality, like paying women the same as men doing the same job. The then-chairman of Sequoia Capital, Mike Moritz had suggested to Chang that hiring more women might mean “lowering our standards.”
However Indian American venture capitalist Vinod Khosla assured the delegation of Indian entrepreneurs “Technology is the single largest leverage we have in making a difference in the world. There is a men’s club kind of attitude, but at the end of the day, great tech is great tech. Gender doesn’t matter; execution matters.”