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Fundraising While Female (datingring.com)
164 points by doppp on May 11, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 194 comments



I wasn't going to respond... But after reading the whole article, the author really comes across as self-entitled. I fear no one is willing to tell her the truth. So here are some thoughts:

1. Fundraising is hard no matter who you are. Stop reading TechCrunch and comparing yourself to others. You never know what someone's journey is. From the story the press tells it looks like I've had an easy path raising capital but that's not true. We've gone 12+ months on a single $50k investment after a year of no funding. Startups are hard and you need to be willing to deal with the fact that most companies struggle to fundraise.

2. I am glad you have conviction, you'll need it, but the dating space is not as guaranteed as you think. Up until recently, the entire dating market combined didn't top a billion dollars in the U.S. Companies like Tinder are probably overvalued and yet they have millions and millions of users with crazy metrics. Do you have ANY indication you've built the next Tinder?

3. Investors invest in opportunities they understand. I look at your product and I ask "what's novel, defensible, unique here?". The design doesn't blow me away and the model sounds just like Three Day Rule which now has support and backing by Match.com (note: all founders of TDR are female). What sets you apart?

4. Please please please don't think you're hot shit because the press covered you. YC says to focus on traction because that is all that matters, and they're right. 60% growth doesn't mean anything. What are the numbers? Do you have 100k users on track to pass 250k in half that time and 1MM in a year? Look at Slack or Snapchat or Instagram growth to compare what investors get excited about it. Be really honest with yourself about whether you DO have numbers or not.

Look, I understand discrimination and believe you experience it far worse than a straight white guy, but it really doesn't come across as a compelling argument the way it's explained here. I'm sure I'll get a lot of hate for calling you out here, but I feel it would be dishonest not to reply and tell you what it looks like from the outside. I wish you the best of luck and hope you build that billion dollar company, but please remember the dating space is hard, saturated, historically hard to monetize, and filled with tombs of companies that got millions only to go nowhere.


Let's say for the sake of argument that you are completely, 100% right about the difficulty of fundraising and how 'banal' their product is. Even given that, the kind of shady behaviour that the investors tried to pull (groping, conversations with dates attached, etc) is absolutely intolerable and should be dealt with incredibly harshly.


I don't think parent was excusing that behavior. If the author had written the post focusing on those aspects, it would have been a compelling article on the discrimination they faced while fundraising. And like you said, it needs to be dealt with harshly and exposed.

What has happened instead is that the tone seemed to suggest that it is easy for white men* to succeed. This is in a way dismissing the efforts of countless white nerds who have spent their entire youth fiddling with their computer projects. The internet is full of obscure projects that exist purely for the love of hacking. The author misses out the correlation between this and the relatively larger number of successful white men in the industry.

Discrimination is real. But we shouldn't rush to attribute success to being white and male, unless there is a study which tells us: (no of hours white men have spent/successful white men) vs (no of hours X group has spent/successful X group people)

To me, it seems that the way to fix it is to get kids to start programming early irrespective of gender and color.

* I am male, but not white.


> What has happened instead is that the tone seemed to suggest that it is easy for white men* to succeed.

Having read the article I can say I did not get that impression at all. The article argues it's easier for men to be funded than women and that there are implicit biases at work in the VC-funding-system that unfairly disadvantage women. This sounds perfectly reasonable to me; it's a common and valid criticism made by feminists all the time.


Here's the relevant quote from the article.

> I knew the founders of many other companies pretty closely – their backgrounds, their revenue, their valuations, how much they raised. Sure, it’s comparing apples and oranges, but one company (with a 6’ tall, attractive white, male CEO) that was pre-product and just a few LOIs raised over a million with 3x the valuation. A smaller B2B company that had 10% of our revenue raised the same amount as us, at twice the valuation. Another B2C company, with a quarter of our revenue and much stronger, well-funded competitors, raised 3x what we raised, at twice the valuation. The main difference? They were all run by all male founders.

I don't believe any reasonable person is going to read that and walk away believing the author wasn't implying that white men get funded easier than women.


That's right -- the article is saying that white guys (especially tall and handsome ones -- remember that short guys oh wait you already know) have less difficulty than many other people in the funding game. But in this discussion, the claim a few posts above was that the article says that white guys have it easy. Different.

It's like claiming A greater than B means A very large, if we're talking about, say, real numbers. But just because a .5 percent chance is bigger than a .2 percent chance doesn't imply that either of these numbers is very large.

In particular, it's useful to play with numbers because it reminds you that a very small difference in funding rates at the beginning may compound, leading to big differences later. If a few important investors get distracted by the idea of dating you or don't take you seriously because of small biases, that may have a substantial long-term impact.


The term 'easy' is also relative, stop trying to be pedantic.


The tone doesn't seem to reflect 0.2 -> 0.5, more like 0.1 -> "sure thing, impossible not to get funded"


I guess not everybody perceived the tone in the same way. It seemed much more neutral to me.


The question is for what reason. She's making an argument that was the only difference. With support & evidence.


Easier, not easy.


someone needs to read up on their IFF logic tables.


It's easier for white men* to get funding than white women*.

http://fortune.com/2015/05/06/silicon-valley-asians-report/

A vast majority of men are still discriminated more than white women in Silicon Valley. So you need to specify which group of men, and which group of women.

Since right now, White men > White Women > Hispanic Men > Asian Men > Black Men > Asian Women > Black Women > Hispanic Women

Do you not see that this isn't just a gender problem? This is a racial and cultural problem. White women are one of the least discriminated groups at large in the grand scheme of things.

Sure, discrimination and bias are wrong. But guess what, the world doesn't work in ideals. Learn how the system is run, and do the best you can at the moment given your advantages and disadvantages.

If your a white women, look for other women for mentorship and/or funding. She's gone through it before, she understands the nuances of trying to be successful, and the social prowess needed to get there. You can use your gender to your advantage, or it can be to your detriment.

If your a non-white male, put your face to the grindstone because you have to work that much harder to get to where you want to be. There is no if and or buts, this is how it is. You can try and create social change to the detriment of your career, you can point it out all you want but this is it. This is the environment you are working in at this moment of time. Either embrace the hardship, or become an activist to create change.


>> Even given that, the kind of shady behaviour that the investors tried to pull (groping, conversations with dates attached, etc) is absolutely intolerable and should be dealt with incredibly harshly.

Some of those should not be invited back to YC. Isn't that one of the things YC does, bring in quality investors? What about the drunk at demo day? These are examples of the investors not taking the founders and what they're doing seriously. Has YC passed its peak?


I am honestly completely unqualified to comment on how good their product is. I know very little about the 'dating application' space. I did find the comments about finding funding to be somewhat entitled, but I guess most people who go through YC compare themselves to their (very highly successful) peers.


Groping is not OK, but an invitation to a date? How are people going to get together in the future, matchmaking by computer is the only "form" allowed? I suppose that would be good news for her startup...

It's sleazy to invite somebody hoping to date them but giving the impression that you want to invest in them. But the guy mentioned explicitly stated "it's a personal invitation", meaning it would be a date. What is so horrible about that? Can women not even say "no thanks" by email anymore, is that too much of an ordeal (or, if that is too hard, just ignore an email - too hard?)?


An investor should not be inviting people actively seeking funding from their VC to a VC backed event as a date. It's unprofessional (it sets up an obvious conflict of interest for both parties) and it's unethical (it sends very mixed signals and it could be viewed as coercive). Asking her out to dinner or a non-corporate event would have been much more appropriate, but frankly even that would have been somewhat questionable.


She wrote "Another never followed up with me after our meeting, but a month later invited me to an event his VC was holding" - it doesn't sound to me as if there was still the option of investing on the table.

Besides, let's be honest - even if it was a private invitation, it was an even by some VC, so presumably lots of VCs would have been present. I'd be very surprised if women would not also routinely get the advantage of being introduced to VCs because they are women, which men don't get. It's dumb to not take advantage of that because of some weird puritan moral that attractiveness is not supposed to exist. She mentions herself that "attractive" male CEOs seem to get more funding.

Edit: reply to comments below - first, do you really think a guy having sex with an investor just to get investment would not be called some unfavorable things behind his back?

And being invited to a party with VC is a net positive option. Ignoring it would merely put her back to the level of men, not below that level. Feeling pressure to go there - really? As I said, it is strictly a positive option, ignore it and you can still do all the things men do to meet investors. And maybe that guy merely thought she would be interested in meeting VCs and proposed that as a date because of that. What's wrong with trying to cater to the interests of your date?


Reply to your edit:

>And being invited to a party with VC is a net positive option. Ignoring it would merely put her back to the level of men, not below that level. Feeling pressure to go there - really?

Let's say she that she theoretically agrees to his proposition and goes to the event even though she doesn't like the guy much. She has a very productive and enjoyable time speaking with investors. Her date mentions that his VC will be holding future events which he would like to bring her to as his date. He also mentions that he would like to have sex with her. What will she do? If she declines she might not be invited to these future events and may miss out on funding opportunities.

This type of scenario is one reason why I said that the arrangement was unethical. Whether intentional or not, it sets up the basis for a very unequal relationship.


So what - as I said, being a founder is not such an emergency situation that you are forced to sell your body. She can still decline to have sex and be merely reset to the status that is normal for men (which is not to be invited to the parties). It's still a net win. Or she could dangle the promise of sex in front of the guy, go to all the parties but never give the guy what he wants.

You could also ask who is the person being cheated - the guy getting sex only for his money, or the woman getting money only for sex.

Also, surely people never partner up because it suits their life plans. It's all just romantic love in the real world. You might walk down the street and fall in love with a hobo - nothing you can do about the will of the heart.


Even if you assume that investment is completely off the table so there is no conflict of interest, creating a situation in which a founder might feel pressured to go on a date with someone they are not attracted to in order to get in the room with people who can fund them is fundamentally not ideal. The investor should have been more thoughtful and asked her out to another venue at the very least.


There is a huge level jump between "unfairly giving someone investment because they are attractive", and " pretending to want to give someone investment because they are attractive".


But the guy didn't pretend to want to give investment. He clearly said it is about dating, not investment.


The flip side is that women that behave as you depicted often get labelled with unfunny names, while it does not happen when said behaviour comes from a man. :/


I don't think you are obliged to have sex when you agree to go on a date, or when you are being approached because you are attractive.

And supposing wealthy men would try to take advantage of their wealth (promising money for sex and then not delivering), why wouldn't it be fair game for woman to take advantage of their attractiveness (promising sex for money and then not delivering)?

You also seem to assume that men are incapable of being genuinely interested in a woman. What if the guy really was interested in the woman and merely wants a date to get to know her better?


People get called unfunny names regardless they actually have sex with someone.

And no, I'm not assuming that men are incapable of being genuinely interested in a woman. To the contrary, I have no reason to think otherwise. It's just that a funding meeting is not really the appropriate venue to express such interest, just like it's better to wait until one has reached the toilet before expelling fluids in excess.


She reported receiving an email a month after a conversation about investing, not a funding meetup. I think a lot of fantasy tends to play into discussions of this topic. Women are not being called sluts just for flirting or being attractive, men are not treating women as prostitutes just because they have money.

Even between men I think "attraction" or getting along well would play a role in deciding to fund somebody. Just because somebody is interested in a woman doesn't imply they just want her body.

What if it's attractive to an investor if a woman is also moving in the same world as she is. So that maybe they have something to talk about at the dinner table?

Who would it be OK for an investor to date?


Again, I never assumed that because somebody is interested in a woman they just want her body. To the contrary, I have no reason to believe it, and I assume we're discussion honest interest here.

> Who would it be OK for an investor to date?

Anyone who's not asking them an investment, which I guess still leaves plenty of options. It's a conflict of interest issue: the entrepreneur will likely consider the possible consequences on the investment outcome of their response. I would really avoid asking someone out for a data when I'm in a position of power in their regard, as I'd prefer that whoever I'm asking out is free to decide without fear of consequences.

I'm not saying that nobody can ask someone out from a position of power: I'm saying that it requires a lot of extra care, as I guess it would only be ok after you get to know each other really well and there have been multiple blatant signs of interest from the other party.


Somehow we've gotten to a point in society where it is relatively accepted that me saying to a student, "Come to my office for a... personal meeting..." or "I'd like to have beers with you after class alone -- it's a personal invite. is wrong. This is not offering a date no-strings-attached, simply because of our jobs.


I think that's bullshit. Rich people are not allowed to date anymore? Actually there was recently a study that showed that upward mobility has severely decreased because fewer women are marrying richer men (used to be a major way to become richer). So this is yet another example of feminism harming women.

By "protecting" the supposed victims of powerful men you deprive women of the option to date powerful men. And what if a student is interested in dating a professor?

Running a startup is not such a dire situation that it forces you to become a sex slave.

Edit: in reply to the comment below: The corollary of the statistic is that men don't have a lot of upward mobility. So often the unspoken assumptions that go along with feminism are simply wrong. Being able to marry upwards is a "privilege" of women mostly. It doesn't imply that they can not try other routes like everybody else.

YC doesn't allow me to comment further atm, so good bye.


I think the point of feminism is that women should have upward mobility through their own merit, sorta like men...

The pool of female founders is already incredibly tiny. Asking VCs not to proposition women who are pitching them won't mean they are unable to date.


[flagged]


Let's say you're a man, and the tables have turned -- men are the long-oppressed sex, and you need to turn to women investors to raise money for a business:

How would you feel if you showed up to an event to raise money for your budding business, but instead of serious conversations with the mostly-female crowd of investors, most seem childishly interested in glancing at and discussing your butt, or perhaps feeling your biceps. You keep trying to bring the conversation back from butts and biceps to YourCompany, and finally one of the investors interjects that no, they only invest in "serious" companies (coded language which you know means: companies founded by people that look like themselves), but that they do like feisty men, and perhaps they could invite you out for a drink or two sometime.

Would that not be infuriating? How would you feel if you had listened to that conversation play out in front of you? What would you want to do in response? Would you empathize with the experience of the person that came to talk business but is instead treated as a sex object? Or would you laugh, because it amuses you to watch someone carelessly crush the dreams and soul of someone that doesn't look like you?

Date invitation, in certain inappropriate contexts, while not illegal per se, ought to be punished via civil means.


You don't actually know how it happened.

quoting from the article:

> It’s extremely intimidating walking up to older men, getting them to make eye contact, and then convincing them to fund you through a quick convo. It’s also extremely easy to confuse these approaches with flirting – which is exactly what happened.


in all seriousness i would leverage the shit out of that advantage. if I could raise a large A round simply by having sex with a few people, you're Goddammit right I would.

jesus, it's hard as crap to get a one on one with VCs, no matter what gender you are. iif i was a hot woman and a VC wanted to buy me a few drinks, pay for a nice dinner, sure let's call it a date, but I'll still pitch you on funding. I'd go on all kinds of dates until I got what I wanted.

"if you show up for a fair fight, you have not prepared enough"


To paraphrase what you just said: "Starting a company is easy for women. All you have to do is to prostitute yourself!"


no, a good paraphrase would be: dates are a way to get face time with investors. sex us a good way to get funding. I want face time with investors to get funding. therefore, I would go on dates and have sex with funders.

cheers :)


> in all seriousness i would leverage the shit out of that advantage. if I could raise a large A round simply by having sex with a few people, you're Goddammit right I would.

You're thinking as a man living in a patriarchy. In this world a man sleeping with some women to get ahead is more likely to draw admiration than denigration. A woman doing the same thing is likely to be shunned and slut-shamed. She doesn't even need to have a conflict of interest. See also #GamerGate.


no, I'm thinking as a human being operating in a competitive environmnent. I'm calling bullshit on you telling me how I think. Fuck your patriarchy crap.

life is not fair. business is not fair. use what advantages you have to get a head start.

that is my thought process.


> Fuck your patriarchy crap

Thank you for that incisive and articulate bit of commentary. I guess you sure showed me, eh?


Guess I did :)


So you are saying women get all these advantages for being attractive, but can not use them because they would be called sluts? Bummer.

Also, when/where can men sleep with women to get ahead?

And: going on a date with somebody does not imply that you have to have sex with that person.


So you're saying the woman who turns down a VC's sexual advances is less deserving of the VC's money than the one who takes him up on it?


no, I'm saying I would take advantage of their sexualized advances in order to get funding.

it has nothing to do with who is more deserving or not. seriously, how did you get that out of my posts?

it's all about using whatever competitive advantages you have.


Seriously, how do you not hear what you're saying? Women object to being asked for sex in exchange for funding because they shouldn't have to do that in order to get funding. Let's game out what you're saying here:

* Some women are willing to sleep with VCs in order to get funding, while others aren't

* This creates a situation where women who do not sleep with VCs are at a competitive disadvantage

* This may be great for VCs (in a super-creepy way), but it is not good for women. Suddenly they are forced to sleep with everyone they want to ask for funding, just to defend against the threat of other women who might do it.

* Meanwhile, if they aren't willing to do that, then they get raised eyebrows and suggestive questions from cofounders and early investors, suggesting that if they really cared about the company, they would use whatever competitive advantage they had, wink wink.

* The women who did sleep with VCs and got funding would face questions for the rest of their career. They only got funded because they were hot, right? Edit: in fact, even the women who were not willing to sleep with VCs would probably face the same questions, and often do even now.

All of this has the effect of reducing women to sex objects and removing their power over their own bodies. This is not some hypothetical scenario, it is largely what the world looked like for women prior to the 1970s, and they are right to guard against its return.


You throw women around like it is some umbrella term for every women out there. You are wrong, not all women fall under your umbrella term. Who says some group of women are disallowed in using their bodies for a competitive advantage? What about a women who enjoys having sex with individuals? What if those individuals happen to be VC's? What if by sleeping with those VC's she is allowed capital to fund her startup? She was just enjoying herself, and happened to be doing business at the same time.

What right do you have as an individual to impose your viewpoint of calling her a sex object because she is using her body to her advantage?

I don't understand this logic. You ridicule women by saying they are sex objects even though they might inherently enjoy the act of sex itself and realize the advantage it brings them in a business environment.

And don't be naive, spend some time in San Jose at any Vietnamese Coffee Shop or Vietnamese Bar and talk to the girls working there. They make $200+ an hour or more for using their bodies, and on YC you have individuals and teams grinding away for pennies on the dollar for the man hours spent to get a startup off the ground.

Talk to any of those girls working at those coffee shops and the vast majority of them will tell you that they have made a calculated decision to use their bodies for their advantage. Not all of the girls, some girls fall on hard times and have to make due with one of their assets. It's not a fortunate circumstance to be in, but so is being homeless. And guess what? Some of them invest that money into higher education, and end up with advanced degrees. Due to leveraging their bodies. So again, generalizations don't work when talking about gender.

So please, get rid of your narrow mentality on how women think and work. You're living in a world of ideals, a nice bubble to be in but not an accurate representation of reality.


This is among the stranger things I've ever read on HN. Or anywhere. I'm not sure if it's a problem with your reading comprehension skills, or my communication skills. I suspect it's the former, but I'm biased. I don't want to get into this too deeply at this point, since you're probably the only one who's going to read this, but here goes:

What about a women who enjoys having sex with individuals? What if those individuals happen to be VC's? What if by sleeping with those VC's she is allowed capital to fund her startup? She was just enjoying herself, and happened to be doing business at the same time.

I'm sure this does happen, and I'm not saying it's not allowed, or it makes that woman a "sex object." But when VCs go around soliciting sex from women who are asking them for money, it creates a climate where women feel coerced into having sex. Again, I'm not trying to stop women who want to have sex from doing so, but most women do not like being coerced into sex.

You ridicule women by saying they are sex objects even though they might inherently enjoy the act of sex itself

Research and anecdotal evidence have shown that women desire sex just as much as men. Desiring and having sex does not make a woman a sex object. For many centuries, women were not allowed to be anything other than something for men to have sex with. That is the cultural climate I am referring to when I say that women are reduced to sex objects. I'm not ridiculing anyone. I'm talking about something women today generally want to avoid.

Talk to any of those girls working at those coffee shops and the vast majority of them will tell you that they have made a calculated decision to use their bodies for their advantage.

Are you a patron of one of these establishments? If so then I would not count on them having an honest conversation with you about whether or not they really want to be there. That said, let's assume what you say is true. It's fine that women can choose to "use their bodies for their advantage." What is not fine is for women to have no other option than to use their bodies to get what they want.

I encourage you to re-read my post that you responded to, and see if you can understand it better.


There is a truth that I'm trying to reach for those who achieve success in Silicon Valley and those that do not. You can't paint this broad brushstroke to encapsulate the total environment here for both women and men. You forget about those who fall through the cracks, and those who never had a chance at success here. The technology bubble has created this disparity, and you can see it through the black market that rises around the excess of this bubble. I spend a lot of time trying to understand this black market, since it provides more truth than understanding the boom and bust of market economies.

The general sentiment on YC is that of idealism, but if you don't see the narrow alleyways and dark pits in which people live in then you can't fully comprehend the extent to what people will do to survive or thrive. Travel around East Oakland, East San Jose, and you can see that there are people who will do anything for any advantage out of their given situation. For some women, it is using their bodies to get out. And you see it in the competitive environment of tech. This is the art of competition, bringing the cost of everything down - one of those costs is that of the human body.


I'm trying to figure out what you think I believe, and the nearest I can come is that you seem to think I'm judging women for behavior that I find distasteful because I just can't comprehend what life is like in the "dark pits in which people live." Let me be clear: I am not decrying the behavior of women. I am criticizing VCs who expect sex from women who are trying to get funded.

I recognize that some women resort to various kinds of sex work because they are financially desperate, while others do it because it is work they enjoy and it is lucrative (also to be clear, some women do it because they are forced into it by traffickers or others. This is not ok). I believe that prostitution should be legal, because its prohibition is bad for sex workers and makes their work less safe. I believe that consenting adults should be able to do what they choose in the bedroom.

However, soliciting sex from women who are seeking funding has no place in the ethical practice of venture capital, for the reasons I outlined in previous comments (it is coercive and creates a bad environment for female entrepreneurs). Additionally, accepting sex from someone seeking funding also has no place in the ethical practice of venture capital, because it is likely to cloud judgement and produce bad investments.

This is not idealism, it is a rational response to the fact that women had few other options than to "use their bodies" for millennia. People will do what they do, but if a VC tries to get a women to have sex with him in order to get funding, and instead of "using her body" she sues the shit out of him, he got what he deserved.


All we have is our bodies, what else is there to give?


It's not just "date invitation." This is a woman complaining about a guy talking to her at a bar. As a guy, I'd be flattered if a woman asked me out in general, but extremely annoyed if she did it during a job interview.

She's saying that making the conversation an appraisal of the woman's looks instead of ability, the VCs denies her self-determination. She puts forward the archetypical VC-friendly candidate to say he'd be the type of person that would clear a VCs mental filters and actually have a chance at being heard.


You used a throwaway because you knew this would be downvoted to oblivion, and it should be. It has no value and is intentionally inflammatory. No one is suggesting shooting them. Only that their unacceptable sexist behavior should be stopped.


[flagged]


You are a very whiny person


> You are a very whiny person

Please don't compound the problem by breaking the site guidelines as well. https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

Instead, you can flag a comment by clicking on its timestamp to go to its page, then clicking "flag".


We owe him our gratitude, for helping smash prejudices that say women are emotionally weak.


I'm assuming that the person telling the story did not flagrantly lie. Obviously, before proceeding with professional/legal repercussions, all the claims should be heavily scrutinized.

However - if the claims are true, you do not believe they merit repercussion and that the actions of the VC are just harmless 'date invitations'?


Fundraising is hard, for sure. You know what's harder? Having investors want to meet with you, and taking your meeting, not because they see value in your business, but because they want to fuck you.

Can you imagine how infuriating that must be as an entrepreneur? Imagine that there's a 50/50 shot that, every time you have a meeting with someone, they're just stringing you along so that they have the opportunity to fuck you and have zero interest in actually investing. You'd be outraged not only on the creep-factor, but also just the complete waste of time. Moreover, these same people trying to fuck you are also investing in actively shittier companies than you run.

As people are trying to "focus on growth" every single one of these meeting invites for investors could be a huge waste of time, and that alone is cause for outrage. Take the sex out of it -- imagine that for every investor you pitched, 50% of the time the investor stood you up. That's the baseline of what's happening here: the investor isn't showing; in his place is also a dirtbag. That's a really hard fundraising environment.

The only thing I can critique this woman on is why she's not more upset, and why she's not publishing a list of names.


Yes, this. You wrote what I tried to write in another comment and you wrote it better. Thank you.

As for other replies suggesting that 50/50 is an outrageous estimate, I think it can easily be even worse than that -- the fraction of investors potentially interested in making a deal with your business is very small (5%? 1%?), so it doesn't take many folks pretending to be interested to swing the balance, and those folks will also have a tendency to gravitate toward you at fundraising events, since they can clearly identify their target by appearance alone (i.e. "oh there's a pretty young woman, I should go say hello").

And yes, each of those interactions is perfectly legal (we'd all be condemning in chorus if there were groping or assault involved), and perfectly fine in isolation, but en masse they create a lot of extra work for the entrepreneur. Put in other words, at the micro level, these interactions are fine -- one or two people inviting you for a date could be lovely, or at least tolerable; but at the macro level, the combination of a large number of these isolated interactions creates an onerous and hostile environment.


> they're just stringing you along

How is it worse than people meeting you so they can steal technical details about your product? Of course, it is a difficult environment. The question is what can we do to make it better for everyone and not just for women?

Of course, there will always be people out there trying to waste your time. I just don't get what the product's plan is for a hockey stick growth. I need to understand that in about thirty seconds. I couldn't by looking at the website.


> How is it worse than people meeting you so they can steal technical details about your product?

It's not. It's in addition to.


Being attractive must be very hard. Men (especially the ones in IT) are so lucky that few of them will ever have to experience that affliction.


I'm sorry, but to suggest that it's 50/50 whether potential investors are only meeting you to bone you is just ludicrous. I find that quite insulting.

You come across as sexist, and with a chip on your shoulder that big (and an ego to match), I certainly wouldn't want to invest in you.


I wouldn't want to invest in them eitger, mostly because of the massive victim complex they have.


You're right, it is just ludicrous.


What do you base your assessment on?


I base this 'assessment' on the fact that not all men are unprofessional, drooling apes.


But you are a man and so you don't get to see the vast amounts of sexist unprofessional behaviour that women have to put up with.


Regardless of my gender, I also know that not every man is a sexist bastard hell-bent on shagging every woman he meets.

I really do find it ridiculous and offensive (slanderous, even) to suggest that all men (or 50% of men; it's not clear it the OP meant 50% of people or 50% of men) are like that.


just wanted to let you know that I agree. and I'm also sick of being blamed for a small minority of other men's actions.

cheers, mate


Yeah, but I read her story and got the complete opposite view. Do you think it's acceptable the guys hitting on her and her colleagues? I think there is a boat load of evidence there that she's been treated really badly and I can see the dating space for this blurring lines more than other spaces.

You can just jump in and shout sour grapes if you like but I think you would say the same thing if that shit was happening to you over a sustained period; there are lots of shit companies getting investment too, why not hers?


The market may be tough, but when the investors seem to be more interested in hooking up with you or your cofounders, or just outright groping, that points to something else than just "wrong market" being the issue.

Maybe my different perspective, but "from the outside" to me it looks like a lot of macho older men who don't take someone seriously if they are female.


I couldn't agree more. Another thing to keep in mind is that it can be really hard to continue pulling off the confidence game you need when you're being groped and propositioned.

What I'm wondering about most though is how YC is handling these issues. If I'm not correct they once issued a warning to investors that bad behavior like this would mean they're out.

Did the groping during Demo Day get reported? And is that investor now indeed no longer welcome to YC? And what about YC-related investors proposing dates with founders... are they still in?


May be so, but if someone shows more interest in you rather than in your product or idea, you've kind of gotten your answer.

It might be hard for men to ignore any sexual aspect in interaction, which in many situations (like pitching at funding events) is definitely inappropriate and unpleasant; you are right to call that out. I'm not excusing bad behaviour. But for better or worse, no matter how unfair it might feel or how much insult it adds to injury, you've gotten an answer.

I would find it hard to believe someone goes to a fundraiser to ignore a genuinely great idea/product just because they feel a bit horny. I doubt you'd want a person with such lack of focus involved with your company.


> I would find it hard to believe someone goes to a fundraiser to ignore a genuinely great idea/product just because they feel a bit horny.

How many times have I heard on these fora that it's the team that matters as much as the idea? That the VCs faith in the the founders' abilities that drives funding at least as much as the specifics of their nascent business model?

Perhaps the problem is that the "sexual aspect" seems to be interfering with these VCs founder-evaluation capabilities. And thus they're being judged solely on their current business model (which is bound to be wanting at this stage no matter who the founders are) rather than being given the benefit of intuition that male founders are.


>I would find it hard to believe someone goes to a fundraiser to ignore a genuinely great idea/product just because they feel a bit horny.

Why? Humans pass up great opportunities due to various predispositions, why not a sexual attraction bias? I fear that you're overlooking decades of documented sexual harassment in this field. It is clearly very hard for some people to take women seriously at all in a professional setting.


>decades of documented sexual harassment in this field

In the past four or five years the bringing to light of discrimination, sexism and misogyny in this field has increased (and that's a good thing) and I don't doubt that women have faced discrimination in the past. But this is the first I've heard of decades of documented cases - anecdotal evidence maybe, but not concrete documented issues over the course of years. Can you share some of them?


What are you asking for, here? Documented cases...but not anecdotal evidence? Aren't documented cases all individually anecdotes?

> Can you share some of them?

Do you really want the parent to start listing cases of sexual harassment?


That's a fallacy if I've ever seen one.

Documented sexual harassment is not the same claim that was being made above, specifically, that men will do things like forgo investing at an investment event purely because the woman is attractive.

And honestly, not even common sense bears that out, you would expect the man to invest unnecessarily in an effort to gain her attention.


It isn't about forgoing investment, it is about clouding the judgmentused to evaluate the investment opportunity.

Imagine a goofy woman in torn clothing approached tmyou at a conference, with a business idea. Would you seriously consider its merits? Now consider someone whose sexual frustration hurts his ability to tell the difference between confident women in business attire from a seductress in party clothes.

Lest you think this is extreme, women report his behavior constantly. Compare even just a dorky tech guy wearing a silly tie, to a cute lady wearing a hot pink scarf that falls on her breasts. Note: for women, breasts are not optional attire.


> It isn't about forgoing investment

Ok, great! That means you agree with the previous person who stated they didn't think that was well documented.


From what I understand, benihana rightfully has a problem with my specification of cases from within the field of software (see my reply). I do agree with you and stand by my usage of "documented" as unavoidably synonymous with "individually anecdotal".


I started scrambling for sources but found that you are correct. From what I could find, There aren't detailed historical records of sexual harassment in Silicon Valley. I found a few vague leads through Google Scholar, but nothing too relevant. I think you'd agree that my point is applicable for working women in general, but empirical evidence becomes much more sparse for a relatively new industry such as software.

I'll leave my statement as-is, but I'm sorry to disappoint and to have spoken so reactively and groundlessly.


> I would find it hard to believe someone goes to a fundraiser to ignore a genuinely great idea/product just because they feel a bit horny.

I don't find that hard to believe. Being male myself and having many male friends, interactions with a (pretty) woman can be strongly influenced by 'sexual/romantic' urges. And it takes effort, sometimes quite a bit of it, to turn that off sometimes.

Now I don't mean that in any way as a justification. It's just what I experience and see happening. Acting on those urges/instinct/whatever is what makes it sleazy.

And yet, it's quite possible that such a 'sleazy' investor, unencumbered by gender-prompted urges, might be quite alright.


Please dont add ageism into this.


These kind of responses are exactly the reason behind her first paragraph.

"I have struggled with writing this blog post for months. Unless I have an absolutely perfect, bulletproof business (which I do not), I'm easily written off as someone blaming my failures on my gender."

It is a genuine problem that she is trying to raise awareness for. Why she struggles writing it is because she knows that she'll get your kind of response. She knows it will make her look weak, she knows it might label her a trouble maker not worth investing in.

The really frustrating thing is that you're in a similar position, so you should know that women have a harder time than you. You're the first one that should be jumping up and down and jumping to her defense. You should be outraged at the things that happened.

The point isn't even the lack of investment which is is what you're focussing on. The point is that to get that investment she has to accept: groping, comments on looks, date requests.


why should I jump up and down in her defense? I'm literally competing with her for the same vc dollars. I'm not going to help my competitors, that's insane.


>You're the first one that should be jumping up and down and jumping to her defense. You should be outraged at the things that happened.

No. Telling someone how they should feel and act about a situation is complete and utter bullshit. Who do you think you are tell a stranger what their reaction to something should be?


The two comparisons with Zoosk and Tinder were a bit off the mark too. Zoosk was founded in 2007 and has been around since forever. And Tinder is not quite a ... dating app. Dating app to Tinder is Slack to Snapchat. They might look superficially similar with some overlapping use case, but by far and large, they're different things.


Using both tinder and okc, people use both apps in the same exact way. Tinder may have a reputation as a "hook up app", but most people are not using it that way.


"but the dating space is not as guaranteed as you think"

Below is from http://caseysoftware.com/blog/working-for-a-dating-website

"Let’s think about their model again:

If someone joins the site and is unsuccessful, the site loses one customer.

If someone joins the site and is successful, the site loses two customers.

Wait, what?

That’s right. Making you successful can be bad for them. Now obviously, they need success stories to promote and recruit new customers but too many success stories and.. they lose."


Note however the distiction between relationship websites like eharmony, and dating websites like tinder and TDR. And why you see different models. On relationship websites, you tend to pay cash money and exit either satisfied or unhappy.

On dating websites, it is a subscription model that enjoy keep playing and meeting more people.

Daters want to meet a lot of people over time. Relationshippers want to meet one quickly, and won't be patient paying a subscription fee for nothing.


Totally agree about #3. Furthermore, after reading the post, I checked out the website to understand how their business model and core value proposition is different from the other dating sites out there (tinder, okcupid, match, plenty of fish) and it's plainly obvious while it's not an investable idea in its current form. Their core value proposition is that they can provide better matches than automated systems by using skilled people to do the matching. If the skill required is a commodity (like driving or cleaning homes), then there is a potentially scaleable business model, but when it relies on specialized and uncommon skills, it's basically a consulting firm.

The only examples of a successful "consulting firm" that I can think of off the top of my head that has seen any sizable investment is Palantir. Their market may be very small, but each contract is worth so much that there is a huge opportunity. How big is the addressable market of $800/month dating consulting and dating life management? Seems more like a solid lifestyle business than the unicorns that most SV investors are chasing.

The mantra "do things that don't scale" really is about getting traction and growth to get the party started and multiply effectiveness. However, even those things that you initially do that don't scale should eventually be scaleable or else you have a permanent cost center that scales with the business. When your business model doesn't scale you need to rethink the business model.

Are there highly profitable businesses that are consulting firms? Totally. McKinsey, Bain, Booz Allen, Accenture, etc. are all large companies that are profitable and provide consulting services. However, the people investing in those types of business models are not the investors in Silicon Valley. Investors in SV understand software/hardware and using them to increase productivity, providing more value at a lower cost. Unless there is an alternative narrative they are telling investors about how they plan to pivot to something else, I can't help but wonder how such a business model scales to a high valuation in the time scales most venture capital funds have until they need to divest.

Lastly, who on the founding team has professional experience as an engineer? Only the CTO (who has a CompSci degree) has done any software engineering in a professional setting and that was as an intern for 3 months in 2007. Solid personal projects count too, but the CTO has only one repo on github that isn't a fork and it's a basic html/css/js github.io page. I'm not saying that you need to have a strong, experienced technical co-founder to found a successful company, but it's a huge strike against a startup for being investible if there isn't one.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/katiebambino https://www.linkedin.com/pub/emma-tessler/66/b43/39a?trk=pub... https://www.linkedin.com/pub/lauren-kay/13/777/392 https://github.com/kbambz?tab=repositories


Mansplained.

edit: more info for the downvoters: The condescending tone of 'Look, ... fundraising is hard ok?' and lots of assumptions that OP doesn't know _anything_ despite obvious years of experience.


his thoughts and opinions aren't valid simply because he is a man?

who is sexist now?


I sympathize with you, having also experienced subtle sexism in both the tech and investment world (I'm a technical co-founder, and I've fundraised successfully). Here's a couple of points I hope are helpful.

- You should look to connect with partners at firms that have female founders (ideally purely female-founding teams) among their portfolio. There are also a few female partners out there as well -- get access to them, with your YC network it should not be hard. Listen hard and press them to get honest, specific feedback when given "no"s.

- While the sexism is unfortunate and it's hard not to get frustrated, you may want to look long and hard at your pitch and company. If you've really talked to 40 investors and sent out ~500 emails, and this is a hot space for disruption, it's very unlikely that all of them are dismissing you due to gender; something isn't connecting. I's very easy to dismiss all feedback ("their feedback means nothing; they are rejecting me because I am a woman") just because you are soured by your bad sexist experiences.

Ask yourself these questions honestly: Are investors giving the same criticisms and feedback for saying no? Are there questions you struggle with in the pitch about your business? Is the value prop clear? Is the product demo well orchestrated? Try to examine all of the feedback you've gotten objectively, and see how can you improve the pitch. Find someone who is ideally involved in the venture community (e.g. as a partner, associate, EIR) that you can trust, that can give you brutally honest feedback on your pitch and business.

- Fundraising is hard for everyone. It's going to be harder for you. It sucks, but that's the truth of life. You are one of those pioneering women who are paving the path for others so hopefully in 20-30 years, it's not even an issue. It would be great if you didn't have to deal with this, but that's not the reality of the world. What doesn't kill your company will make you AND your company stronger.


> You should look to connect with partners at firms that have invested in female founding teams (ideally purely female teams).

Are there seriously investors that only back purely female teams? That seems ridiculously sexist and financially stupid to eliminate so many good startups that aren't all female.

> You are one of those pioneering women who are paving the path for others so hopefully in 20-30 years, it's not even an issue.

I see articles like this as a small step backwards. I don't know what the answer is to discrimination (of any kind), but I think complaining about it in articles like this is not helping to reach equality.


> Are there seriously investors that only back purely female teams? That seems ridiculously sexist and financially stupid to eliminate so many good startups that aren't all female.

That would neither be sexist nor would it necessarily be financially stupid.

As for the sexist part, reverse sexism is not a thing -- if the playing field is so imbalanced, then explicitly favoring the discriminated-against group is a fair measure to level the playing field. It's the same reason we have women's colleges and organizations devoted to advancement of women, and why similar institutions for men would be (generally speaking) incomprehensible.

As for the financial wisdom of investing purely in companies run by female co-founders, the whole point of investing is to find opportunities for investment that have been undervalued by the rest of the market. There are certainly some investors that have discovered that businesses run by women are undervalued in the market; maybe they have even calculated a rough figure for how undervalued they are, perhaps 15%. They may decide not to even look at male-led companies, as they would need to find 15% extra hidden value in order to match the hidden value -- unseen by the rest of the market -- they already know the female companies must (on average) have.


> As for the sexist part, reverse sexism is not a thing -- if the playing field is so imbalanced, then explicitly favoring the discriminated-against group is a fair measure to level the playing field.

You're conflating anti-discriminatory with reverse sexism.

Anti-discriminatory is passing a law that requires any company that gets tax breaks to meet some requirements of diversity.

reverse sexism is coming across a female owner who only hires women (I know of 1 such company).


There is no such thing as "reverse sexism." There is only sexism. Making decisions based on gender is always sexist.


the whole point of investing is to make money, not find "opportunities for investment that have been undervalued by the rest of the market."

you are confusing the means to an end as the end in itself.


> Are there seriously investors that only back purely female teams? That seems ridiculously sexist and financially stupid to eliminate so many good startups that aren't all female.

I meant this to mean they have invested in all-female founding teams, not JUST all female teams. I have edited it to hopefully reflect that better.

Regarding your second point: I don't think the author's goal was purely to stop sexism in VC. She was describing her own experience. It's not a waste of time to educate people about the poor behaviors you see, regardless of whether or not she has a solution for it.


Not quite the same thing, but I know of a company in my local town that hires only women. They'll contract out to men when they absolutely must (me, for example), but I shit you not, the owner was female, all of the engineers were female, every single person on the assembly line was female. There was literally 2 males involved in that entire company. Me, as a contract software developer, and another guy as a contract IT person.

That was it. Top to bottom that entire company was female, if I had to guess they had 20-30 employees, but of course I never saw all of them so it's just a guess.


for all the down votes you're getting, just wanted to let you know that I agree with you.

don't let the thought police get you down, and don't let all the other commenters shame you into thinking you are wrong or stupid just because they think your comments aren't politically correct.

you are right: it is sexist to discriminate against males, and these articles are a step back.

cheers, mate. keep on keeping on.


Thanks. I'm honestly starting to feel like a crazy person for thinking that men and women should be equal. The fact that I have to get behind a VPN and make a throwaway account to express that I think equality is good and positive-discrimination is bad is upsetting.


Looking at the comments of this thread, I can't help but see the author's point, as most of the comments I see in response to this article fall into at least one of three categories:

1) "Fundraising is hard, suck it up you baby." (Some of which are just short of "man up!" - and how isn't that sexist?)

2) "Are you sure your product doesn't suck? Maybe you've bitten off more than you can chew." (Levels of condescension in those statements vary from none to overwhelming.)

3) "Yeah, you're right, I'm a female founder/startup employee and have seen the same sort of thing."

Hell, if anything, the reactions here just serve to clarify her point.


Short of "man up" is completely less sexist. Perhaps "toughen up"?


> 1) "Fundraising is hard, suck it up you baby." (Some of which are just short of "man up!" - and how isn't that sexist?)

Wouldn't it be non-sexist if "man up" is applied to both men and women? What would be sexist is to only say that men should "man up".


The implication of "man up" is that anything less than a "man" is inadequate. It's much like "quit playing like a girl" or "grow some balls".


Except nobody actually said the words "man up" — it was the OP's own paraphrasing of a general sentiment they observed, which they then turned around and labeled as sexist for using the word "man", all in the same sentence. I've never seen such an impressive turnaround time on a strawman.


Perhaps a bit of a straw man, I admit, but since the author mentioned several instances of men telling her she should toughen up, yet experiencing less resistance from VCs raising money than she did, I can't help but see the comments as piling it on just a little bit.


Yep, that's exactly why I used the scare quotes too. :)


No, the implication is that men are only valued based on their productivity and as such don't get to complain because nobody cares.


> The first investor who tried to invest was drunk at Demo Day and got handsy with a cofounder, so he was out.

> One investor took me to lunch, said he wasn’t interested in investing, and wanted to ‘test’ the product out by going on a date with me.

> Another investor introduced me to a group of fellow investors as ‘the beautiful CEO who has two other beautiful cofounders’.

> Another never followed up with me after our meeting, but a month later invited me to an event his VC was holding with a ‘PS – this is a personal invite’ (meaning I was invited as a date, not because I was being considered as a potential investment).

> Another investor met with my CTO, held off on investing, and then asked one of our matchmakers if he could be set up with our CTO, or someone like her.

Shameful carry-on (on the part of the investors).


Whose actions are you calling shameful here? It's not clear (to me, at least).


I don't see how it could be unclear. In what way could the shame be on the female participants in these scenarios?

I've added clarification to my original post.


Thanks! It was ambiguous to me (and perhaps only me), as one could be saying that it was "shameful for the OP to carry on about this".


Ah yes, that actually makes sense, "carry on" is a british saying. It's a bit like saying "that's shameful behaviour".


Completely off the main topic, but - $25k/m is great, but growing beyond that is not difficult per se (when compared to growing any business). I personally know at least 5 different companies that have bootstrapped to over $1m/yr, three of those over $5/m year without a dime of investment. (We're in the $1m+ group.)

For us, that's 5 full time people. That's it. One $5m company has grown to 20+ people.

My point is, I wish people would stop with the narrative that getting funded is the only way to be successful. The idea that growing beyond $25k/m is too difficult without funding is absurd, because if you can get the money to scale quickly, you'll find that getting from $1-10m is really difficult. Then $10m-25m. And so on.

And before you know it, your valuation is 40x revenue and you're kicked out of your own company without a dime to show for it.

$300k/yr is awesome. It's not hard, trust me, to organically grow that to $1m. You'll pull a nice paycheck, and those dividends end up in your pocket, not someone else's.

Edit: if you really have 60% month-over-month growth, you'll break $83,333.34/m ($1m/yr) in less than 3 months! I'll assume you're not actually holding steady at 60% m/m... But you can see you're not that far away.


Just a guess, but since the company in question (Dating Ring) relies on matchmakers to help make dating matches for people, I can't help but wonder if they didn't try to grow their employee count a little early. Looking at their homepage, they have four matchmakers on staff, and from listening to Startup, I know they have another two people (a COO and a CTO) on board. Guessing they probably have a few other folks on staff too, and since they're based in NYC, it seems to me that they likely have payroll expenses well beyond what they're pulling down monthly.

As I say - just a guess. But $25k/month serves 5 employees reasonably enough in NYC, but I wouldn't say more than that.

I really hope they pull through. I anticipate nothing like I anticipate the latest episode of Startup now that Season 2 is going.


I'm not sure that you can look at their revenue the same way you'd look at the monthly recurring revenue of say, a SAAS company. I've never used any dating services personally, but I imagine the goal is to find someone you like as quickly as you can and then stop paying for it. It might be expensive to constantly acquire new customers, especially early on in the company's life.

I do agree with your general point though. The vast majority of businesses don't take/need any VC funding.


> [list of three companies in different markets that received funding at better terms than hers] The main difference? They were all run by all male founders.

Only someone obsessed with gender would ignore the dozens of significant differences between these companies, their products, and the people involved with them, and state that the main difference was the gender of the founders.


But.. isn't the dating game actually pretty saturated? OkCupid, Eharmony, tinder + a million other companies. OP mentions the startup was taking 25k/mo but needed funding to make a crack against big companies. Surely that was the exact turn off for investors?


It looks like paid memberships start at £80 per month, so that revenue works out at just over 300 paying members, off the back of a "ton of press". Comparisons with "1 year old Tinder" are more than a little fanciful. They're also doing the opposite of what the other companies in the space are doing: replacing software with human labour.

I don't think that most VCs thought "woman" when she pitched, I think they thought "lifestyle business". There's nothing wrong with running a profitable traditional dating agency, but it's not the sort of opportunity that really sets their pulses raising. Her open acknowledgement that she found approaching VCs at demo day's "intimidating" - their fault, naturally, for being older men - suggests she probably wasn't quite as adept at pitching it as she thought she was either. I can understand her being pissed off if a couple of them made inappropriate remarks, but I don't think that attitude is the main reason why 300 emails and 40 meetings didn't garner much interest. Some VCs are even women!


Search was saturated once Altavista came out and kicked Yahoo's butt. If DatingCircle have a significant competitive advantage over the existing market that may not be relevant.


Right, so what is the competitive advantage?

She opens saying "Unless I have an absolutely perfect, bulletproof business (which I do not), I’m easily written off as someone blaming my failures on my gender" and offers nothing to dissuade me from following that. It seems entirely plausible she has been marginalised/dismissed - but I'm not sure I buy into it entirely.

Personally, I'd have thought that, in dating especially, a female founder would seem like a real strength. I wish the company luck regardless vOv


Social was saturated when everyone had a Myspace page.


It still may turn off investors though. Google wasn't immediately funded to the brim either.


The author mentions their competitors had no problem finding 9 figure investments. Also, saying that "surely" the reason for not finding investors cannot be related to sexism is saying it's all in her head. Maybe their business plan was bad, maybe it was good. But I wouldn't personally dismiss the issues the author is trying to address so quickly, given that she is in a good position to have an informed opinion about it, the fact that sexism is very prevalent in the tech industry, and that the examples given are quite specific.


I agree the market is saturated but that didn't stop other startups in other saturated industries ~ taxis & uber for instance. I don't know what their edge is but I wouldn't write them off because they are trying to crack a saturated industry.


I guess many of you already know but it's worth mentioning that the 2nd season of Startup Podcast is following datingring and their (quite amazing) journey: http://gimletmedia.com/show/startup/


Finding investors is a weird affair, really. Ultimately you're asking someone to part with their own money.

Of course you would hope it's based on the merit of your startup, but a lot of it is also 'seduction' (even for guys). Taking them to golf, dinner, building a slow relationship - winning them over.

We're not talking about a company's hiring policy here. This is an individual with a lot of money, and you happen to want it. I do think that warrants a different set of standards.

You're entirely right to deny the older creepy guys your business, but it's not a problem in the tech business. People work hard to get these rich people into one place so they can be swooned over. There isn't much of a filtering process there except for "they have money".


I am so tired of people complaining about this kind of BS. I'm a short, not handsome white man who knows fully well he'd never be hired to be the CEO of any company. Why? because people respond to tall, handsome men and I'm not one of them. People also respond to attractive women, and I'm not one of them either. Guess it just wasn't in the cards for me to have an easy life, just like it wasn't for THE MAJORITY OF US! Some people got lucky and won the genetic lottery, most of us didn't. End of story.


just wanted to let you know I agree with you and I'm sick of people whining about basic human nature. it's not gonna change no matter how much you shame people or complain about it.

cheers, mate


How does datingring scale? If you're setting people up on dates using real-human matchmakers it sounds like you've got a matchmaking agency.

That's unquestionably a good business if you can get customers (I've seen the millionaire matchmaker reality show and she's got lots of money). What I'm not seeing is how that business scales to the multi million dollar exit that a VC is looking for.

For every few hundred customers you need a new "real human" to manage coordinating the dates. How can you maintain quality across even 100k users? Obviously, with money you hire more, but what's the "engineer to user" ratio?

Facebook has 1.2million users per. What's app has 14million users per.

How many users can one "dating engineer" handle?


I posted this comment elsewhere here:

Below is from http://caseysoftware.com/blog/working-for-a-dating-website

"Let’s think about their model again:

If someone joins the site and is unsuccessful, the site loses one customer.

If someone joins the site and is successful, the site loses two customers.

Wait, what?

That’s right. Making you successful can be bad for them. Now obviously, they need success stories to promote and recruit new customers but too many success stories and.. they lose."


Except for the "craigslist early adopters", almost everyone who has done online dating has done so based on word-of-mouth recommendation from people they trust.

  Success = recommend to friends; Viral.


They will breed more customers, give it a few years.


Many of them will come back when the relationship ends.


The groping and stuff is of course unacceptable.

But I don't understand what they need an investor for if there is 60% MoM growth from $25k/mo? Why give a large chunk of the company away when you're on track to push $1M/mo in revenue within 8 months?


Because it eliminates uncertainty? To sustain that 60% MoM growth rate, you’re going to have to recruit staff to match (this is a relatively high-touch company by the sounds of things - no scaling out your staff to millions of users each!) What happens if growth stalls for a few months just after you recruit a bunch of new staff? Oops, cash crunch: you fail to make payroll & the company goes bankrupt.

On the other hand, if you play it safe & employ the minimum number of staff to make payroll even under conservative MoM growth predictions, you risk poor service killing your word of mouth under an influx of new users.

Either of these outcomes could bite you at any point: if you’re re-investing your income straight back into the company in order to get the maximum growth rates then your exposure to short term user volatility is very high.


If you ask the "why do they need investors if they already have enough revenue at the moment to survive for now" question, then you really don't understand the basics of startup investment. The situation where you obviously need investment just to survive, is the only time you absolutely don't try to raise investor money.

Sorry, but this question comes up far too often on HN.


"The main difference? They were all run by all male founders"

I know in Spain and Europe the founders of 10 different teams, all of them trying to disrupt dating. Rarely one succeeding, only after pivoting.

It is very easy to compare yourself only with the successful people, and forget all the people under them, and worse underestimating your competitors.

It is also a self fulfilled prophecy. I have seen bald founders get nervous with investors, getting too nervous, making a bad performance, then blaming it on being bald.

People do not care you are bald on a business, but if you are nervous they sense it, and start thinking there is something fishy about you.

Investors smell weakness and self doubt. If you doubt about yourself they will never invest on you, obviously, if you doubt about you nobody is going to trust you.

I created a company while traveling around the world. EVERYBODY BELIEVED I WAS CRAZY. Everybody. My parents, my girlfriend at the time...

I made it anyway but it was not easy and it worked pretty well in the end. If someone told me that I made it because I was a "white male" I would feel tremendously disrespected. It takes for granted all the incredible hard work, the difficult decisions, people around you feeling sorry for you, losing all your money, your girlfriend...

I got to met people tens of thousands of times more successful than me. If I made money in my twenties, I met people that become rich on their teens.

I know nobody that had success without hard work but there are people that work very hard that did not make it. I meet Rafael Nadal when he was a kid because I played tennis and played tournaments. I meet dozens of kids as good as him or better too.

It is so easy to put excuses when you do not make it, but there are that, only excuses.

But excuses are very dangerous. If you believe someone success because he is white and male, you wont be able to really see what REALLY makes them successful, and you won't be able to learn from them. Your competitors are your main teachers.

You have to use the fact that you are a woman as your advantage.

Sending hundreds of mails requesting meetings? Stop doing that, you are looking desperate male or female if you do that, that you need them more that they need you.

I created my company without external funding, lots of people were interested in investing, mostly because I didn't need them. Those that got in got a good deal.


Despite your hopeful anecdotes, there are plenty of stories that involve women in tech being overlooked and harassed. By these metrics, and those in the article's linked study, it's hard to deny that women have it much harder in this field.

There might be the successful female underdogs who will claim to follow your mantras of confidence and overcoming excuses, but overwhelmingly this is a problem with our culture. You absolutely cannot expect a woman in this field to bear the load of constant misogyny.


there are countless stories about men being overlooked or failing, you just never hear about them because it doesn't make a good story.


Of course. Men are overlooked for many reasons, some reasons unfair as well. However, men are rarely overlooked because of their gender, and that's what this discussion is about.


The biggest disservice that YCombinator and other famous top-tier investors have done for entrepreneurs is to somehow convince us that the typical investor is a good person who will support you through good and bad.

They're not. Typical investors turn out to be horrible, lazy, horrible people, versus what you expect from them initially.

Keep that in mind from the start, no matter your gender, and you'll manage far better.


Sounds like a business opportunity. Have a site that rates investors. And of course, as part of the rating, include which ones hit on the females asking for funding.

Well, maybe it wouldn't be such a good business as it would likely get sued out of existence fairly quickly.

Another tack may be to send letters the wives of said investors. :)

Seriously though, as a man, I find it very disturbing that there are men who simply cannot conduct themselves respectfully in front of a woman.


> And of course, as part of the rating, include which ones hit on the females asking for funding.

Or anyone, really. I don't mind being flirty with a guy once I know him (as I am with most of my male friends), but I wouldn't get that way with strangers at a professional event. Any man, woman, or otherwise who did that at an event like this would get a bad review from me.


The title should read: "Fundraising While Not an Ivy League White Male". I believe everything she says. I agree that we should call out sexist behavior to stamp it out. However, I hope she doesn't wallow in how unfair this is. Nearly everyone has to face unfair bullshit in some aspect of their lives. Frankly, dating sites are a cesspool of people making superficial judgments. Fat people, short men and black women have a terrible time getting dates because of that same "pattern matching" investors do on founders. They probably have a harder time fund raising for their startups, too. So, you really have no choice but to persevere against sexist asshats in SV.

I heard about the dating ring from the Startup podcast. Checked the site out, but how is this different from It's Just Lunch? For $80/month I'd rather your matchmaker run my OKCupid account. Writing a hundred messages that get no response is a total waste of time, but OKC and Match is where people are at.


Whatever disfunction exists in VC (I'm sure some does) is an opportunity for funders who specialize in funding women. They should obtain better deals than those who are for whatever reason only capable of correctly judging and interacting with male founders, especially if they can develop a reputation for it.

Best wishes to the founder here, who took positive action by starting a business that seems promising enough (I agree with the premise that there are still opportunities in online dating). I'm not a fan of scolds with no skin in the game and outrageists who make every 3rd anecdote into a 'trend', but relating true experiences is surely good.

Interpretations of social-psych-science studies (as opposed to the actual [reproduced] experiments) should be taken w/ huge lumps of salt.


I can see why you're annoyed and have every right to be at investor behaviour. Lack of investment though, could that be due to scalability of the product? Reading between the lines as you take on more users will you need more staff to be matchers? This seems to put off some investors looking for a unicorn. It's a shame their are not more female VCs around. Hope it all goes well


> It’s easy to spot direct sexism, and to react to something like an investor getting handsy. But the subtle sexism that hinders women goes ignored and is often denied.

The first kind is better called misogyny; the second is sexism. It is often denied not because it is subtle -- a quick look at the statistics, any relevant statistics, would show that it's far from it -- but because it's unintentional, sometimes seemingly benevolent, and often invisible unless you're trained to see it or directly suffer its consequences.

I think the first step is to understand that being sexist is to be expected -- it's like doctors infecting patients with germs on their hands before the discovery of microbes and disinfectants -- you can't not be infected unless you understand how the mechanism works. The next step is to learn what sexism is, how it works, why it feels "natural", and why fighting it may feel strange. Like with any mechanism that we can't easily see with the naked eye, coming to terms with its reality and its very visible effects is a process. It's OK to grow up sexist; if our current theories are correct, almost all of us do whether we like it or not. It's not OK not to learn about sexism and try to fight it now that we have a much better sense of how it works.

What saddens me is that sometimes the very people who are usually most curious to learn how the world works turn willfully -- sometimes proudly -- ignorant when it comes to social mechanisms. It's OK to disagree, but at least everyone should be familiar with the core principles. Sometimes arguments about the subject here on HN or elsewhere sound like people arguing with Quantum Mechanics not because they think the Newtonian model provides ample explanation, but because they insist Zeus is ample explanation, or, worse yet, because we have no business trying to understand how things below a certain size behave because it's just not important enough.


This is a great comment and I hope that people think carefully about what you are saying.

One problem with discussing our biases is that sexism and racism are considered moral failings in many places, and so a discussion of possible sexist behavior is seen as a discussion of sin. This is why so many replies are along the lines of, "I am not a bad person! Also, look at my childhood problems!" These are reactions to a perceived personal condemnation, not a discussion of a sociological phenomenon. To those who have this reaction,

> It's OK to grow up sexist; if our current theories are correct, almost all of us do whether we like it or not. It's not OK not to learn about sexism and try to fight it now that we have a much better sense of how it works.


Dealing with internalized homophobia as I came out to myself and others was eye-opening. The number of unfortunate things we internalize and perpetuate is amazing.


What amazes me is not only how much crap every one of us -- no matter how scientific or skeptical otherwise -- internalizes, but the kind of excuses we come up with to deny the reality of the evidence presented to us, or, better yet, the excuses we come up with so we don't even have to look at the evidence.

Contrast that with how some people respond to news about nutrition, true AI, and cryonics -- all far less scientific than the study of sexism and racism -- and explain that even though the science isn't rigorous yet, we must consider the "results" on the off chance it will make the world a better place. But trying to reduce proven, pervasive sexism or racism? That's just unsubstantiated "ideology" (all without even a cursory study of the findings) and an unimportant/impossible (take your pick) undertaking.


This is how this reads to me: first, realize that sin is everywhere even if you can't see it, you are all sinners and that is just the natural state of the world right now. But it is not OK to sin if you have been made aware of sin. (Is the Emperor wearing clothes?)

I guess the analogy breaks down with the acceptance of those that are truly ignorant (not just intentionally), and that one can build a better world wherein "sin" is not the default state of affairs.

The comparison with religion and science seems apt, but for the opposite reason that you seem to portray. These kinds of social questions, when you get down to the nitty gritty of them, often isn't science. And I don't mean in the sense that "it is not HARD science", I mean that the school of thought does not seem to be grounded in a (social) science. It's motivated by an ideology and a theory of how the world is/works. And it has few other competing ideologies/theories in its space. And despite being an ideology/theory which has little competition with other such things (except internally) so that people can see and compare it in different lights, they try to pass it off as gospel.


> This is how this reads to me...

Right, except I think that the analogy to germs is more apt because sexism -- like germs -- has been verified, proven and measured in countless experiments and studies done by qualified researchers, whereas sin is dogma.

> I mean that the school of thought does not seem to be grounded in a (social) science.

No, that's just total rubbish. Sexism has been studied by hundreds if not thousands of historians, sociologists, anthropologists and psychologists for decades now. It's just as grounded in science as our understanding of the industrial revolution. It's much more scientific than cryonics, I can assure you that.

> It's motivated by an ideology and a theory of how the world is/works.

Like all fields of study, it's motivated by the desire to understand how the world works, possibly with the hope that understanding will help make the world a better place. If you somehow wish to portray the desire to make some people suffer less as an ideology that's somehow controversial, so be it. I'm sure everyone involved will be happy to accept your categorization.

> they try to pass it off as gospel.

That's the same kind of nonsense all evolution deniers say ("that's not science", "it's another belief" and so forth). There is a vast body of knowledge accumulated by meticulous researchers following as scientific a process as possible in those fields over the past four decades. It's just knowledge you don't want to learn, and there are plenty of psychological studies explaining that behavior, too.

You don't want to learn even the gist of it -- that's fine, but it's you who are being motivated by dogmatism, except that I don't even understand what your ideology is: keep things as they are?


> If you somehow wish to portray the desire to make some people suffer less as an ideology that's somehow controversial, so be it.

I see it as an ideology. Full stop. Any ideology is fallible and can be misguided, even if it is well-intentioned. I wouldn't be surprised if most ideologies have been bourne out of well-intentioned ideals. But intentions don't really help if the ideology is fundamentally unsound/misguided (we have some examples of that up through history).

> That's just rubbish, and you sound just like evolution deniers

Of course, the go-to shaming tactic of intellectuals. Bravo.

> You don't want to learn even the gist of what's in it -- that's fine, but it's you who are being motivated by dogmatism,

You don't know fuck-all about my knowledge of this. But yes, I could stand to investigate and learn more about it. I could stand to try to find out if some of my beliefs on this field or whatever is misguided. But I have seen "enough" from a long and admittedly cursory glance at the field that I've found that it is not something that I am likely to find worthwhile in the end, and it would be too draining. What I really should do is to stop whining about things like this on forums like this and just lay the issue to rest. That's my bad.

> you want to keep things as they are?

Of course that's your default guess. It's either "our way, or the old way", as some kind of liberal/conservative dichotomy.

I'm not happy with the old way or "the new way", and I think it's preposterous that people can try to reduce it to such either-or-thinking. No, the current mainstream thoughts on sexism aren't the be-all-end-all that all reasonable human beings can and should agree on.

On my beliefs, suffice it to say: I don't like sexism. Any more explanation beyond that and we get into fragmented territory with regards to what opinions are acceptable on this topic, as far as the mainstream thought goes.


> I've found that it is not something that I am likely to find worthwhile in the end, and it would be too draining.

BTW, that's precisely my feeling about chemistry (which, incidentally, I also view as an ideology, full stop). OTOH, you won't find me participating in chemistry discussions, let alone arguing about it.


> I see it as an ideology.

Some parts of it -- sure -- but an ideology firmly based on evidence. Just like deciding that spending public funds on the design of the first computers or the internet -- or any technology -- is an ideology based on evidence. I'm not asking you to accept the ideology, though. You don't want to build computers -- fine! But sexism is as real as electrons.

I am sure some CS professors have strong opinions on whether we should build self-driving cars. Their ideology doesn't make their research any less valid. In fact, I'd expect CS professors to be very much "pro-tech" because they know better than the average person what's possible. Similarly, it's only to be expected that researchers studying sexism or racism will be very much opposed to them, because they know better than the average person how harmful they are. Their ideology doesn't disqualify their research, either.

> It's either "our way, or the old way"

What way? I just look at the research. You have a different explanation for how species evolve or why women make less money than men, put it out there so it can be studied. We can't "teach the controversy" because there is no controversy to teach. There's the vast majority of researchers on one hand, and a small yet vocal group of deniers on the other.

> the current mainstream thoughts on sexism

I don't know what you mean by that; I do know what the studies tell us about how sexism spreads, what it looks like, and what its consequences are. You may have a very different understanding of what sexism is from how the academic studies define it, but to me what you said sounds just like "the current mainstream thoughts on evolution". You just arbitrarily chose to disqualify a vast body of research because it doesn't jive with your gut feelings on the subject.

> On my beliefs, suffice it to say: I don't like sexism

I don't think you understand. Whether or not you like sexism is irrelevant. What matters first of all -- before we get to ideology -- is to study how certain power structures perpetuate themselves in society. Once you know that -- and only then -- you can decide what to do about it if anything. I don't like that people can't fly. But I know that the reason we can't is that we don't have wings, and the reason for that is evolutionary, and the mechanism is genetic. So, to make people fly we can either change their genes -- which may be hard or easy, safe or dangerous, ethically problematic or not -- or decide on some other way of dealing with it (building airplanes, for example). Luckily, thanks to decades of research, we already know quite a bit about sexism -- just as we know quite a bit about the limits to human flight -- so there's no need to start from first principles and/or total ignorance every time we discuss it. When we discuss human flights we can talk about genes and aerodynamics -- we don't need to treat the subject so mysteriously and suspiciously. Same goes for sexism.


>What way?

>It's not OK not to learn about sexism and try to fight it now that we have a much better sense of how it works.

You are the one who opened this conversation with a judgment of morality. It is quite obvious what you are suggesting - every man has a moral obligation to educate himself about sexism on his own time and on his own dime (you're certainly not going to help with that, repeatedly asserting the existence of a "vast" number of studies without naming a single one).

Very few people here will dispute that sexism exists, or that the world would be a better place if it didn't. But you come off as so ideologically blinded that you are literally incapable of understanding why anybody would ever disagree with you.

And you're doing yourself and your cause a disservice. You appear so insufferably, patronizingly smug that it is hard to take your argument at all seriously.


> every man has a moral obligation to educate himself about sexism on his own time and on his own dime

No, only those curious about the world and wishing to learn how things work (and why only men?). But if you choose not to educate yourself, it's ridiculous to enter into an argument without at least some familiarity with the research.

> repeatedly asserting the existence of a "vast" number of studies without naming a single one

Are you kidding me? I feel like I'm in crazy land. I didn't know the existence of an entire field research done by world-famous researchers on government and private grants at the world's most prestigious institutions and published in the best of peer reviewed journals is either "asserted" or requires "evidence". It's ridiculous. If you're that ignorant, type "women roles" or "women power" into Google Scholar. Because you'll get literally millions of hits -- from various disciplines like history, sociology, psychology and anthropology -- you can narrow it down, for example "women roles victorian", or "women roles middle ages" etc. The field is not exactly obscure. There's a lot more to learn, but we already know quite a bit.

> so ideologically blinded

What are you even talking about? All I did was say that people who are otherwise curious don't wish to learn the subject. What ideology have I expressed?

> incapable of understanding why anybody would ever disagree with you.

Disagree about what? That we know a good deal today about how sexism work and how power perpetuates itself in society? That's a fact!

> You appear so insufferably, patronizingly smug that it is hard to take your argument at all seriously.

At the risk of sounding smug, I think I will repeat my "argument" (i.e. incontrovertible fact) once again: for the past few decades we have learned a great deal about sexism through research. Any argument about the topic must at least start with the basics of what we already know. I am really sorry for sounding condescending, but I feel like a scientist at a dinner party mentioning Newtonian dynamics and all of a sudden getting bombarded with insults and strange opinions because it turns out that the other people's backgrounds range from Etruscan religion to Aristotelian "physics". There's a lot to debate and discuss, but you just can't have a serious discussion when most of the participants willingly ignore the full body of research on the subject.

There are people talking about sexism or feminism without even knowing what those terms even mean; without even having looked up either on Wikipedia. How would you feel if somebody started disagreeing with your "opinions" on programming without having ever programmed anything, or even having read a single relevant Wikipedia article? I'm sure you'd sound pretty condescending to them, too.


Congratulations. You have managed to expertly dodge my point.

>It's not OK not to learn about sexism and try to fight it now that we have a much better sense of how it works.

>It is not OK not to [...] fight [sexism]

Please elaborate.

---

And to rephrase my request for evidence: Would you please name between one and ten particular studies, journals, or "world-famous researchers" I can pursue to get a general overview without getting drowned in "literally millions of hits"?


> Please elaborate.

OK. If you don't know how to make it rain, it's fine to say or do whatever you want about it, but if you do, and it turns out to be possible and affordable -- and you need rain -- you should probably do something real about it. Same with sexism or racism. Since we are now familiar with many of the mechanisms by which they perpetuate themselves, and because we now understand how they shift power in society in ways that serve some at the expense of others -- assuming we believe enriching some at the expense of others is wrong -- we should do something about it, now that we understand the mechanisms.

Of course, I don't demand people accept my values, so I would settle for people understanding sexism yet deciding nothing should be done for whatever reason they deem justifiable. What I do not accept is people making things up (like "it's genetic", "it's unavoidable", "its unfixable") and using their unsubstantiated gut feelings in arguments like this.

> Would you please name between one and ten particular studies, journals, or "world-famous researchers" I can pursue to get a general overview without getting drowned in "literally millions of hits"?

Certainly (general overviews of advanced academic fields, however, are not usually given in academic journals or papers -- at least not that I'm familiar with -- but in books). There are two caveats, though. The first is that the field(s) of gender studies or racism studies is multidisciplinary; research is done as part of history, sociology, anthropology and psychology, and while those disciplines certainly interact, each of those disciplines has its own methodologies, and you’ll find few who are expert in all of them. The second caveat is that gender and race issues are rather advanced concepts, so a text is either an overview or an introduction (to one of the disciplines) but rarely both, just as it’s very hard to find overview texts about Quantum Mechanics that do not presuppose some basic understanding of physics and its methodologies or do not require many leaps of faith on account of the reader.

Having said that, let me try and address your request. While certainly not a scientific text, there is little doubt that 1949 book The Second Sex, by the French existentialist Simone de Beauvoir[1] laid the theoretical groundwork for much that followed, drawing people’s attention to the cultural constructs underlying sex differences in society. Another groundbreaking conceptual (though not scientific) work was done by Michel Foucault on the concept of “power”, which is now considered possibly the most important concept in all of the social studies. The wikipedia article on the topic[2] provides a nice overview.

To get to actual science, we need to look to the disparate disciplines separately. My background is history, so we’ll start there. The best way to find relevant research in history is to search for "[topic] in [era [place (often implied)]]”. A lot of modern cultural constructs surrounding women (and race) are products of (or reaction agains) Victorian ideas, so a good place to start is with “women in the Victorian Era”; the Wikipedia page on the subject[3] is a nice introduction and has a nice bibliography. Historians sometimes track progression of ideas over several eras, so an interesting comparison is “women in the Middle Ages” (again, Wikipedia with bibliography[4]).

Next, we have psychology of sex differences, of which Wikipedia has an overview[5]. In sociology, I’ve found this nice course material (several parts with suggested readings and online resources)[6]. In anthropology, this[7] should provide an overview (though unlikely introductory).

[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Second_Sex

[2]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_(social_and_political)

[3]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_the_Victorian_era

[4]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_the_Middle_Ages

[5]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_differences_in_psychology

[6]: https://uncgsoc101.wordpress.com/module-8-gender-stratificat...

[7]: http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1405101954...


I'm really enjoying listening to you on the podcast - I want you to succeed and I know many others do to. Keep your head up high and keep at it.

Is sexism a problem in tech and venture capital? YES. But don't focus on it and don't let it stop you. So you've gotten lots of rejections. If something isn't working change your strategy. You don't have to raise money to build an awesome company. If you are out of cash take on part time jobs but don't give up.

This line really concerns me:

"You need tens of thousands of users to prove what we’re trying to prove, and it acquiring users in this space is very costly"

Any business is about math. What's your lifetime value of your user? What does it cost to acquire them? Do do you do it cost effectively at scale?


there are two issues: one cofounder was being "man-handled" by an investor, and their product received little support, allegedly because the author and cofounder was not attractive, white, male, etc.

i think everyone here agrees being "handsy" with anyone in a professional setting is not the right thing to do. it's certainly not punishable by death, but it's socially uncouth. that being said, the author acknowledged that it's common for sales pitches to be misinterpreted as sexual interest, and seeing how women generally like aggressive men, it's not hard to see how an investor would interpret such a situation as a cue to get "handsy" with the cofounder. again, not excusable in a professional setting, but you can't lambaste a man for his own biology.

which brings me to the second issue. if men are biologically predisposed to choose male leaders over female leaders and we want women to have an equal opportunity to be funded -- provided their product is actually as good as a man's -- then women will gain better traction by offering incentives for men to prefer the female leaders over the male leaders, rather than trying to change biology so men "work correctly".


What I don't get about this is why she just doesn't name names. I'm a white attractive male, however, I don't want to ever accept investments from investors that do not share the same values as I do, such as women are a vast untapped skilled workforce and treating them as anything less simply isn't profitable, and pretty ignorant.

I mean, hell, sure, lets say for the sake of argument, "women belong in the kitchen, pregnant, and barefoot" (the single most classically sexist thing I can think of at 6:30 in the morning), women raise our children, both boys and girls: if you truly believe this, why didn't you marry a woman with multiple PhDs and a high IQ, so a much more intelligent forward-thinking educated woman is raising your children, thus giving them a better chance in life and thus spreading your genetic legacy more favorably (the driving force behind 99% of human culture and society)?

Seriously, sexism just doesn't logically make sense. If you're sexist, and a CEO or a major investor, please drop out of the game and let someone more efficient than you take your place.

Edit: I don't care if you downvote me, sexism is still wrong and needs to be called out as much as possible so we can exile people who are abusing their power to promote sexism.


Naming names are generally a bad idea, because you don't know if the person really was a sexiest sleazeball or the person making the accusation is just angry that that person just didn't want to invest.

I agree with you that it doesn't make sense to exclude someone for being a woman (or an Eskimo, handicapped, from Belgium or pretty much any other reason), if that person has the qualification you're looking for. In theory the companies that discriminate should suffer from a lack of talent or have to pay more for their workers, because they're recruiting from a smaller pool. I don't know if we want to wait for them to bleed to death, but eventually they will go away.

You're absolutely right that sexism doesn't make logical sense, I'm completely baffled when I hear stories about someone being rejected for being a woman. The sad part is that many of the women who step forward behave like self-entitled spoiled brats, so it becomes hard to tell if they where reject due to gender or personality.


> In theory the companies that discriminate should suffer from a lack of talent or have to pay more for their workers, because they're recruiting from a smaller pool.

Part of the problem is that if there is a systematic bias in place, then they won't suffer relative to their competitors, who are mostly also biased in the same way.

> The sad part is that many of the women who step forward behave like self-entitled spoiled brats, so it becomes hard to tell if they where reject due to gender or personality.

If more money was actually being put into female-founded companies, I'd be more inclined to believe that it is the latter. But it's not like the startup world is filled with success stories of quiet female founders while the loud ones all end up as bitter bloggers.


I'd agree, but its so very, very common to mansplain womens' complaints as trivial ("self-entitled spoiled brats") while men in the same situation would have their response interpreted with some kind of respect.


>but its so very, very common to mansplain womens' complaints as trivial

I'm still undecided as to how I feel about that logic, it's something that you hear rather often. It's also, to some extend, claiming that I don't understand the problem, because I'm a man. That's really a bad starting point for getting male involvement in womens issues.

Mostly I try to avoid getting into arguments about sexism in IT. It's hasn't been productive in the past and I often feel attacked for being male. I get the impression that women, and some men, want me/us to take action while being extremely vague about what those actions might be. For now I've decide that I don't care about women in IT. I won't discriminate, I won't create a hostile work environment, but I won't be doing anything to actively help either.


I am with you on that. Its hard to say anything without criticism.

I believe the problem is, its a cultural difference. Some women have a different setpoint when complaining, which men are uncomfortable with. That discomfort is louder than the message.

Now, we could either ask women to learn to argue like a man. We could ignore them and hope they go away. We could try to speak for women, (mis)translating their message. Or we could get over it, and just address the message.


I'm with you, brother. I'm sick of being attacked because of my gender when im not a part of the problem, and than shamed because I'm not actively helping women.

oh well.

cheers, mate.


You don't "name names" because as the OP already stated: there's lots of back channeling going on. Investors don't want someone who is going to "tattle" and share experiences (good or bad). Besides: two wrongs don't make a right. Someone in the situation needs to display some professionalism.

In regards to the other issues presented: I have to agree that the dating scene / app market is overly saturated. I'm positive that the fact the CEO and CTO were attractive white females did not assist their situation when they had to be overly outgoing to try and snag a few minutes of time with investors. It doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman when it comes to pitching: you NEED to be social and aggressive. As a result, men they were pitching to probably thought that they WERE being flirtatious. There's no way to know if the OP was completely professional the whole time or not (we're getting one side of the story); however it's likely that when talking about dating apps, being social, and pitching investors that there could be some confusion about where the line is for flirting compared to trying to get attention for your business.


I generally think of the whole dating web-site vertical as a bit sleazy. I'd be interested to know what percentage of the investors they pitched outright dismissed them on these grounds (psychologically it may have happened before even hearing the pitch).


EDIT:

I should also mention that the behavior these ladies were subjected to is completely unacceptable. My comment above wasn't in any way condoning the investors but rather trying to point out that it may (in general) be harder to get investment in a dating application. It may also be true that it's harder to get investments as a female founder (I suspect it is) but we're talking about a single instance.

As YC grows the number of female-led start-ups, they should be able to slice this data multiple ways - by vertical, male/female founders, etc.


I've heard if you have real (how do you define real?) traction, no matter what you'll get funded. Is there any truth to this? Or in other words, would people actually pass on an investment on a purely physical basis?


I am amazed at how quickly this article dropped off the front page...


You can also send a "white, attractive male" to the VC interview, and be a ghostwriter of the startup.


Which is awful! A founder should not have to send a "white, attractive male" because she is female and investors refuse to take her seriously. The culture clearly needs to change.


There's a school of thought that says the founders' job is to figure out how to win, not confine themselves to "what ought to be", but rather win with what is.

It may be philosophically objectionable and morally frustrating, but if it's the current reality, you can work with that and increase your chance of succeeding or focus primarily on working against it, rather than on your business.

Completely agree that it should change to be gender blind, of course.


It is totally awful! But it's also the reality (that doesn't make it ok).

I thought the same thing - just pay someone to be the face. I don't think it is all that different to a celebrity endorsement...


If you think you can fight prejudice... think again.


Most of the 20th Century was an ongoing war against prejudice in one form or another, with prejudice constantly losing ground.


  You can also send a "white, attractive male"
Make that "attractive person". Discrimination of unattractive people is far more common than both racism and sexism.

Source: Unattractive brown guy.


Isn't that one of the point behind the "white male privilege" argument.. that one gets ahead just because they belong to a group..

You would be supporting and perpetuating such a structure.


Is this a joke?


Pretty sure that's fraud.


So how did Jessica Alba did it then? She's not the typical startup geek, and her roles definitely defined her on the sexy side only. She managed fine. She pitched by herself, and finally found the right partner and investor. E.g. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/jessica-albas-tears-he...


Gee, I'm not sure, maybe there is something about being a very famous movie star that would help open doors to getting investment. Possibly?


Because she is a movie star investors are not interested in having sex with her anymore?


Sexism disproved I guess. If this Alba woman can get funding with no special advantages or privilege then I suppose any woman can walk right in and scoop up buckets of money.


Are you seriously comparing the writer to Jessica-freaking-Alba? Could you possibly level the playing field a little less?


I think it's comparable. Would you really invest in "the idea of a sexy movie star who finds her conscience after her first few kids and wants to do healthy and honest products". (overly cynically stated)

The op was an expert in her type of business already, had the right partners. With Alba I would have seriously underestimated Mrs Alba's business sense. But she proved everybody wrong and has now a billion dollar business. The same expectations as the op in the dating business.

She describes it here: http://www.inc.com/magazine/201411/lindsay-blakely/how-jessi...

But Alba needed 3 years, so I would suggest to hold on. Facebook didn't level the business field already, even with competition there's more in. Those guys were just stupid.


>Would you really invest in "the idea of a sexy movie star who finds her conscience after her first few kids and wants to do healthy and honest products".

Well, she's got mass appeal. Most people know nothing about business, but they know about celebrities. If a celebrity promotes or endorses something, and some consumer likes that celebrity, it's far more likely they'll go for whatever they're selling versus it being promoted by some random person.

You could come up with any random product and try pitching it to thousands of investors and still fail, but if you get Elon Musk to do it for you, you could probably get a couple million easy. Countless people know him and people trust him whether or not the product or service he's pitching is really worth anything.




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