Most venture firms define success through their growth and generational longevity. We don’t. When Hunter and I started Homebrew it was with the idea that we’d always stay small and focused. That meant we’d never grow the partnership beyond the two of us and that when we were done investing, there wouldn’t be a next set of Homebrew partners to continue the firm’s work. We made this decision to be the best version of ourselves and to commit all our time to our founders, but it didn’t come without tradeoffs. Namely, we haven’t been able to contribute to the important efforts undertaken by many others to increase representation amongst the ranks of Partners at venture capital firms. While everyone on our team besides the two partners is female (and all have carry in our funds), we’ve been limited in the direct impact we can have on diversity in the VC industry. That changes with the launch of Screendoor.
Screendoor is an investment vehicle that will provide $50+ million of institutional capital and experienced counsel to underrepresented venture capital investors who are raising their first funds. Over the past few years, many emerging underrepresented GPs have approached us for fundraising advice and LP introductions. And the message from them has been clear — they’re over-mentored and undercapitalized. Hunter and I, along with a group of peer GPs (who are almost all underrepresented themselves) want to put those new, underrepresented GPs in business. We believe there is no better (or faster) way to change the composition of the venture capital and technology industries than enabling more underrepresented investors to allocate capital in the tech ecosystem. We’re all investors in the fund and aren’t taking any fees or carried interest. Instead, we’re devoting our time and money to the goal of generating outsized returns by backing the future leaders of the VC industry.
Historically, participants in the technology and VC industries have benefited from an incredible virtuous cycle of wealth creation. VCs provide capital to founders, founders hire teams and all of those people generate wealth when companies are successful. That success leads to more capital and advice funneling back into the ecosystem. But unfortunately, huge segments of the population have been absent from the flywheel, leading to massive, missed economic opportunities for them and the broader ecosystem.
Screendoor’s theory of change is centered on recreating this virtuous cycle for underrepresented groups. It’s empirically true that underrepresented investors are more likely to fund underrepresented founders, who in turn are more likely to hire underrepresented team members. By providing capital to underrepresented investors, we hope to kickstart the virtuous cycle of generational wealth creation for underrepresented groups, leading to more dollars, advice and talent flowing back into the ecosystem.
There has been some progress made with representation in the venture capital industry over the past few years. But it’s clear that change has been slow and not as significant as the industry needs. Change will continue to be slow if the industry waits for large venture firms to add underrepresented investors to their ranks and put them on the traditional path to becoming check writers who make 1-2 investments per year. Adding more underrepresented investors to the industry is the right goal. But there are faster and more scalable ways of bringing greater representation to the VC and tech industries. Our hope is that Screendoor will be one of many models that help accelerate progress towards a more representative industry.
Growing up in the heat of Las Vegas, screendoors were a feature of many homes. They were essential for letting the breeze in while still protecting the home. But most importantly, they were an invitation to come in and get respite from the heat. In our neighborhood, if you could peer into a house through the screendoor, it was a sign that you were welcome to come grab a cold drink, use the bathroom or just get a few minutes of cooler air. The “thwack” of a screendoor would announce you were coming in, and the reception was always one of warmth, safety and sustenance. With Screendoor, we hope to provide that same welcome and feeling to the next-generation of investors who will redefine the tech and VC industries.
Homebrew won’t live on beyond me and Hunter, but Screendoor can! It’s our shared intent, along with Screendoor’s other Venture Advisors and a group of experienced institutional LPs, to grow and become an important “Limited Partner” in the VC industry. We recognize that when we started Homebrew we fit the “profile” — two men with a long history in Silicon Valley at well-known tech companies and with some investing track record. We’ve benefited greatly from being included in the virtuous cycle of tech and VC. With Screendoor, we hope that we’ll make it possible for those who historically have been excluded to finally reap the same benefits.
If you’re an emerging manager interested in learning more, please contact us. If you’re an LP interested in a potential commitment to the investment vehicle, you can reach us here. And finally, we’re hiring for a Head of Operations. If you’re excited about Screendoor’s mission, consider applying here.