Through our VentureForward initiative, NVCA is always looking to shine a spotlight on initiatives, organizations, and people who are helping to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. We recently connected with Elizabeth Galbut at NVCA member firm SoGal Ventures to learn more about her firm and her role as a judge for the SoGal Global Pitch Competition, a global startup pitch competition for women and diverse entrepreneurs.
- What’s your investment thesis at SoGal Ventures?
As the first female-led millennial venture capital firm, SoGal Ventures represents how far our generation has come, and how deep our impact on the world can be. We believe in the power of diversity, borderless business, and human-centric design. SoGal Ventures invests in early stage diverse founding teams in the U.S. and Asia, and aims to be the strongest ally for portfolio companies. Powered by the SoGal Ecosystem across 40+ cities around the world, SoGal Ventures is galvanizing a brand new demographic – millennial & Gen Z women and minorities – to take center stage in entrepreneurship and creation. With that in mind, we invest in the future of how the next generations will live, work, and stay healthy.
- What’s the SoGal Global Pitch Competition, and why is it different than other pitch competitions?
The SoGal Global Pitch Competition is the largest global pitch opportunity for women & diverse founders, spanning 5 continents and 25 cities. Finalists from each regional round win a slot in our Final Global Pitch Competition for guaranteed facetime with top Silicon Valley VCs, where they’ll have the chance to compete for a portion of $600K in investment dollars and attend a three-day immersive bootcamp with educational programming, curated 1:1 mentorship, press opportunities, and much more.
Out of the almost 1,700 startup applications we’ve received globally, 75% of founders self-identified as women, 60% people of color, 42% women of color, 30% black, and 8% LGBTQIA+. Since only 2.2% of venture capital funding went to women in 2018, and less than .1% of funding has been allocated to black women since 2009, these applications represent the incredible and untapped potential of underrepresented entrepreneurs.
- What’s the connection between SoGal Ventures, the SoGal Foundation, and the SoGal Global Pitch Competition?
SoGal Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit on a mission to close the gender and diversity gap in entrepreneurship and investing. The SoGal Foundation is the largest global platform for the education & empowerment of diverse entrepreneurs and investors reaching over 100K+ #SoGalBosses in 40 chapters on 5 continents around the globe. SoGal hosts hundreds of global educational events and worldwide webinars per year, including our second annual Global Pitch Competition, in addition to running our angel investor educational training and community FEMPIRE x SoGal.
SoGal Ventures is the first female-led millennial venture capital firm investing in seed stage diverse founding teams rethinking the future of how we live, work, and stay healthy. Founders Elizabeth Galbut and Pocket Sun are Managing Partners of SoGal Ventures and Co-Presidents of SoGal Foundation. These two organizations compliment one another to move the needle forward to redefine the next generation of diverse entrepreneurs and investors.
- What advice would you give to entrepreneurs entering this (or another) pitch competition?
First of all, celebrate! You were selected out of a competitive pool, for example 1,700 applications in SoGal’s competition; that’s a huge win!
For the pitch itself, within the first 10 seconds start with the one big data point that is most compelling to the audience — whether that is traction, the problem, market opportunity, or whatever the startup’s biggest selling point might be. As an entrepreneur, you want to capture investor attention, state the problem you’re solving, the market size, your traction so far, your roadmap and vision for the future, and why your team is best suited to solve that problem. See our blog post with more tips and advice on pitching from our SoGal investor judges.
- The SoGal Global Pitch Competition covers 25+ cities, and you see a wide range of entrepreneurs. Are there any markets or sectors that you’re particularly excited about?
The applications we’ve received have included innovative solutions across all different industries and sectors — approximately half of applicants are in the consumer space (E-commerce, Retail, Software, Media, Beauty) and the other half in “deep” tech (AI, SaaS/B2B, Healthcare, Big Data, FinTech, etc.), which is so exciting. This is further evidence that women and other underrepresented groups are building innovative startups across all industries. We’re excited to be the connection point to resources to watch these founders scale and soar.
To learn more about the SoGal Global Pitch Competition, visit their event website.
Maryam serves as Executive Director of Venture Forward, NVCA’s 501(c)(3) nonprofit supporting organization focused on shaping the future of venture capital.
Before transitioning to launch and lead Venture Forward, Maryam was the Senior Vice President of Industry Advancement at NVCA, where she led NVCA’s initiatives focused on advancing the venture industry – research and data, education, and diversity and inclusion, and incubated several Venture Forward initiatives.