Clarity in Conversation for Women’s History Month: Germin8 Ventures’ Milena Bursztyn on Female Representation in Venture Capital

Women’s History Month may be coming to an end, but we at Clarity are so fortunate to work with incredible female founders and executives every single day — and we’ve enjoyed sharing some of their career experiences and learnings over the past few weeks. Our latest post comes from an interview between Monica Feig, Managing Director of Clarity Los Angeles, and Milena Bogdanova Bursztyn, venture investor at Germin8 Ventures, a purpose-driven venture capital firm that believes in the power of technology to fix the global food system.

In this interview, Milena takes us on a journey into the VC community, which historically struggled with female representation, and shares her insights on the value that female VCs bring to investments.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Monica Feig: What experiences led you to Germin8 and being part of the VC community?

Milena Bogdana Bursztyn: My path to venture capital is by no means conventional, but that is what gives me a unique perspective as an investor. I’ve spent most of my career either being an entrepreneur or working closely with founders of early-stage startups as an operator. I’d like to think that this is the environment I really thrive in. During business school, as I was considering my post-MBA career options, I knew I wanted to combine my startup experiences with having a broader impact. The alignment of career and purpose became very clear at Germin8, which is an impact-driven venture capital firm investing in a more sustainable and resilient food system. Now that I am part of the VC community, I get to collaborate with other like-minded investors and founders who are all committed to building a better and more sustainable future. That’s what excites me most!

MF: Are female investors likely to see opportunities their male counterparts don’t historically see?

MB: Absolutely! I’ll give you an example to illustrate how female investors have an edge over their male counterparts particularly in the femtech space. Historically, male investors have shied away from femtech for the simple reason that they don’t understand the innovation, especially when it comes to technologies that may be perceived as controversial. What we’ve seen over the last 10 years is a combination of more women joining the ranks of investors as well as a growing femtech industry very much enabled and supported by those female investors who believe in the potential to transform the lives of women through technology.

MF: What benefits, perhaps unexpected benefits, do female investors bring to a fund?

MB: I could think of numerous benefits female investors bring to a fund, but I’ll highlight a couple that I think are important to consider. To start off with, female investors bring a unique and diverse network of entrepreneurs when they join a VC fund, which of course leads to new opportunities and potential deals that previously may not have been accessible. The second important benefit is that female investors frequently outperform their male counterparts. A recent Goldman Sachs report showed that women-led funds delivered higher returns than teams made up of all-make fund managers. What this says is that female investors can deliver results. The data is clear and as we continue to diversify the investor community, we need female investors to be loud about the tangible benefits they bring to the table.

MF: What impact can a more diverse investor community have on the technologies we see coming to market, and thus the positive impact those technologies can have on our world as we know it?

MB: A more diverse investor community has huge implications for the technologies we see coming to market. More diversity across the entire innovation ecosystem ultimately results in building and funding technologies, which have the potential to solve some of the biggest challenges we’re all facing, in a more inclusive way. What I’d love to see is a future where the societal benefits of technology and innovation are enjoyed by everyone, not just the select few. The positive impact of that on our world could be enormous.

MF: What role does mentorship play in breaking barriers within the investor community?

MB: Mentorship plays a critical role in breaking barriers and enabling a new generation of more diverse managers to build venture capital firms. But let’s face it, traditionally, it hasn’t been easy for investors early in their careers to get access to mentors willing to commit the time and resources to help them advance professionally. This is especially true for female investors. That’s why communities like AllRaise and Women in VC are so important to investors like me who are still early in their careers and can get access to mentors and other career resources.

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