70% of venture capital firms that fund tech start ups don’t have a single female partner.
Only 12% of all partners in Canadian venture capital firms that finance young tech firms are women.
Female tech entrepreneurs receive only 4% of all capital.
Back in the Spring of 2018, Gerri Sinclair—the MDM program’s founding director and the Managing Director of Kensington Capital—approached the MDM with a problem: How can young women be inspired to start and lead tech companies and to start and lead investment and venture capital firms? The current statistics are appalling. The few women-led tech companies that do exist are having a difficult time getting funding even though tech companies that are run by women have been proven to be very successful and deserve funding.
"The numbers are staggering," Sinclair explains, "It was 2% when we started and I think it’s 6% now [the number of women who are in venture capital]. And the number of women who have decision status at tech companies is 12%."
How do we fix this? That question was brought to a team of MDM students that summer and they determined that the best way to inspire women and get them into tech entrepreneurship and venture capital is with the stories of successful women. The ones who have blazed the trail: the Trailblazers.
Since the summer of 2018 the project has continued every term with groups of students and interns.
The resulting work is Trailblazrs.com—a website to address the gender gap in venture capital and tech start ups and to inspire women to become entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. The website is a searchable database of 550 videos of 50 women (and some men) from the tech and finance industries sharing their success stories. It is also a stand alone YouTube channel.
When asked what it was like to work on this project, Marina Bertoldi, project manager on the first iteration of the project, said:
"It was extremely inspiring, empowering and reassuring to have participated on the Trailblazrs project. Having the opportunity to sit and listen to so many real trailblazers and help with the vision of sharing their stories was a pleasure and treasure. I definitely felt more ready and strong to start my own business here in Canada after being part of this project. Hopefully more and more girls and women will feel the same way after this launch.
The fight is not over but this is a damn good start!
I’m proud to have worked on this vision with an incredible women-only team and having met these incredible successful and real women."
And the project is not stopping there. Just last week, DigiBC—BC’s Interactive and Digital Media Industry Association—under Executive Director Brenda Bailey's leadership, has agreed to drive the project forward.
To celebrate the soft launch of the Trailblazrs website and the DigiBC acquisition, Trailblazrs hosted a wine and cheese event at the CDM last week. It was a chance to celebrate all of the hard work involved in the project and to thank the contributors.
DigiBC is currently looking for partnerships with like-minded organizations who share the vision that Trailblzrs’ searchable database of inspiring video clips should be continually added to and promoted throughout the province to promote an expanded role for women in entrepreneurship, finance and technology. Bailey has been a leader in drawing women and girls into the video game sector both as consumers and as leaders, and remains devoted to helping young women see their futures in a broader lens.
DigiBC is working on a plan, in partnership with like minded businesses and NFPs, to launch the next phase of Trailblzrs this summer. If you are interested in being involved in the next evolution of Trailblzrs, please contact Brenda@digibc.org.
And search the website www.trailblazrs.com to get inspired!