Diversity is such a buzz word that it’s become annoying, baggage ladden and almost useless. Obviously unfortunate. Diversity as a social and political issue demands our attention. If we want the world to be the way it’s intended to be (a spiritual belief on my part), then we have to work at reconciliation and justice.
But why does that matter in business? Why does it matter for venture capital? How does diversity make me more money?
Greg Sands of Costanoa Venture Capital probably didn’t intend to illustrate the answer to these questions with his post What Investors Look For in Technical Founders. But he did. He identifies four archetypes for technical founders: Chief Product Officer, Chief Technology officer, VP of Engineering and Chief Architect. Here’s his grid with their various distinguishing characteristics:
Sands’ basic model for the technical leadership expands nicely to the entire founding team. He states the hugely obvious:
“…taking the time to assess each leader’s particular blend of skills is important. It ultimately helps the company determine who they hire to complement their skills.”
Complementary skills aka diversity is a must have, not a nice to have. It’s so simple to see when it comes to technical skills. It’s less easy to see when it comes to things like perspective, decision making biases, people skills, work styles, etc. But I believe that diversity of “soft” skills is as critical to a start-ups success (or a venture capital firm’s) as the “hard” skills. “We’re going to invest in this company because all the founders think alike.” said no VC ever.