Fuel Ventures is anonymising pitch decks in a three-month trial period in order to improve diversity and remove all unconscious bias from the investment process.
The move came after the VC firm discovered that just 4% of over 4,000 pitch decks submitted over the past four years have been from companies with female founders; and just 13% include a female as part of the founding team.
Prior to taking the decision, founder Mark Pearson stated that investment equality between male and female founders would not be reached ‘until 2040 at least’.
By anonymising pitch decks, Fuel aims to address any unconscious bias in its own processes, and hopes the venture capital industry will follow suit in a bid to level the playing field for the UK’s future entrepreneurial success stories.
The identity of founding members will be anonymised in each instance after submission by a small team before the principals that make investment decisions view the investment decks. Previous founder success – often an important arbiter for a deciding investor – will be highlighted by sector and financial information.
By judging the initial deck without any identifying personal information attached, proposals will be assessed without bias and judged on the merit of each idea, particularly in terms of traction and scalability.
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Fuel Ventures specialises in providing seed funding to early stage technology companies. At present, it is investing at the rate of one company a month, setting aside up to £2m per portfolio company.
Mark Pearson, Fuel Ventures founder, said: “It’s ridiculous that such a gender imbalance even exists so we’re making a stand. By removing unconscious bias, we hope that Fuel will buck the trend and encourage not only female founders but also level the playing field for founders from all backgrounds.
“By assessing the initial deck without any personal information attached, ideas can be judged purely on merit, and any fears founders may have about discrimination will be quashed.”
Fuel will report the results of the trial after the three months.