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Changing The Face of VC: An Interview With Nikita Thakrar, Co-Founder CEO of Included VC

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Chris Apostolou

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Over the last decade and beyond, the VC industry has been talking about the infamous ‘diversity issue’. Whilst change is starting to happen, 65% of firms did not have a single female partner or GP in 2020 and 81% not having a single Black investor in 2018. Unfortunately, this also means that most capital still flows to a narrow group of founders who fit the 'pattern matching' mould, reinforcing the tendency for investors to favour founders who are similar to themselves. To put simply, Venture Capital relies on warm networks and if we, as underrepresented individuals are not a part of these networks, the likelihood of us receiving funding or being hired is low.

Let’s talk stats.

Recent 2022 studies have shown: 

  • US VC-backed startups were still disproportionately founded/ led by men (89%) 
  • 72% of VC backed startups in the US were founded/ led by white men 
  • 91% of the total VC assets, (ie. capital), in Europe are managed by men
  • 1% of VC money was raised by female-only VC fund teams, while 84% went to male-only teams in Europe.

Nikita Thakrar is on a mission to change the face of diversity in venture capital globally and co-founded Included VC: the first-of-its-kind global fully-funded initiative to bring about this change. Included VC builds diversity within venture capital by educating and expanding the network of diverse individuals from all over the world who are trying to enter the VC ecosystem. 85% of all Included VC Fellows who actively applied to Venture Capital roles were successful in doing so and are now analysts, associates, Principals at funds such as Sequoia, Launch Africa and Octopus Ventures - this is huge!

Read on to learn more about Included VC from Nikita herself.   

Could you tell me a little bit of context of why Included VC came to be?

We know that diverse funds (in all manners) outperform. Studies have shown that venture firms with at least one female founder generate 9.7% more profitable exits. Having diversity of thought/ opinion is not just the right thing to do, but also makes financial economic sense.

I alongside my co-founders Chris & Stephen (Partners at Notion Capital) created Included VC, with the help and support of an international consortium of venture capital partners and sponsors: BITKRAFT, Creandum, Daphni, European Investment Fund, HV Capital, HSBC Ventures, K Fund, Mangrove Capital, M12 - Microsoft's venture fund, Notion Capital, Seedcamp, Mouro Capital, and Wilson Sonsini.

Over the last decade, there’s been a slow pace of change - diversity stats just aren’t budging so instead of hoping for a miracle, we decided to do something to ensure tangible change. We know however, that changing any system and/or industry is complex and a multigenerational challenge.

How does the Global Fellowship work?

The Fellowship comprises thousands of hours of collective contact time and unparalleled access to some of the world’s top investors from our partnering fund- Fellows are taught by the investors who cut the first cheque for companies such as Skype, Spotify, Wix, Wise etc.

Learnings are delivered via masterclasses and mentoring, deep foundational learning, Investment Committees. Our vision is that the #IncludedVCMafia will be sharing dealflow, investing in exceptional founders from underrepresented backgrounds, sitting on the beach together after their companies IPO, going to each other’s weddings and children’s graduations – so we also host epic 4 day optional retreats in sunny locations such as Barcelona to create lifelong relationships.

Included VC's Fellowship details: 

  • Virtual
  • Part-time -- we expect Fellows to invest 12 hours a week (you get 2x what you put in at Included VC)
  • You must be serious about breaking into the Venture Capital industry. 
  • If any of these (or more) apply to you: 'I'm a mum', 'I'm a student', 'I'm not in tech', 'I'm not in investment banking'... we encourage you to apply!
  • You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. Even if you aren't sure if you qualify for Included VC's Fellowship, still apply - you never know what could happen.

The deadline to apply for their next cohort is 19th April, don't miss out and apply here!

What are you looking for in potential future Fellows?

Included VC’s criteria for its Fellowship is that it looks for individuals who are entrepreneurial, passionate about technology, and fascinated by the potential for venture capital to drive change on a massive scale. 

We run on these values - kindness, paying it forward and no competition

Included VC’s fellows demonstrate the broadest definition of diversity; gender, LGBTQIA+, ethnicity, non-typical degrees, intergenerational diversity, disability, neural diversity, and applicants from excluded communities such as refugees and ex-inmates. 

What is the #IncludedVCMafia?

The Fellows are part of something we call  #IncludedVCMafia (a take on the infamous ‘Paypal Mafia).’ A group of entrepreneurial and VC knowledgeable individuals from underrepresented communities in 40 countries who are an army for change in the VC ecosystem. 

This is reflected by the diverse make-up of Included VC’s previous cohort. Since 2019, we have received over 6000 applications from 700+ cities and 135 nationalities. Our Fellows last year identified as 51% female, 3% non-binary, 21% LGBTQIA+, ⚡ 9% disabilities, 7% refugee background, 29% Asian, 24% Black, 11% Mixed-heritage, 8% Middle Eastern, 8% LatAm, 5% Eastern European, 27% low-socioeconomic background. We work around the clock to help our Fellows change the status quo and break into VC.

Can you talk about any other initiatives or projects that Included VC is currently working on?

We created RISEInVC:  the first-ever global VC Summit to celebrate & highlight Black professionals in the VC industry. Over 2500 individuals registered from over 400 cities. The summit was 3 days with over 40 speakers. We’re also launching something really exciting soon! 


#venturecapital #startups #interview #Investor #founder #Diversity #Inclusion #InclusiveWorkforce

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