Study Names Georgetown as Second-Best at Turning Out Women in Venture Capital
A study by Different Funds revealed that Georgetown University is the second-best university in graduating women who lead venture capital firms.
This accomplishment is remarkable considering that venture capital is typically dominated by males. According to Forbes, the percentage of females in venture capital dropped from 10% in 1999 to 6% in 2016.
Estelle Spanneut (B’21) believes Georgetown’s Venture Fellows Program, courses in entrepreneurship, and its encouraging atmosphere toward women enable the university to be a pioneer in the area.
“Venture capital is an industry that notoriously lacks gender diversity, but Georgetown’s entrepreneurship and venture capital community is incredibly welcoming,” she said. “I have never felt out of place.”
Spanneut first became involved with venture capital her sophomore year when she participated in the Venture Capital Investment Competition, a global competition hosted by the University of North Carolina. Spanneut and her Georgetown teammates won first place in the Mid-Atlantic undergraduate category. This competition shifted her interest to venture capital and led to her becoming one of Georgetown’s first undergraduate Venture Fellows.
Georgetown’s Venture Fellows Program is a unique one-year apprenticeship in a venture capital or private equity firm. Spanneut was a recent venture fellow for Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund. She will be joining Volition Capital after graduating in May 2021.
“Each one of these experiences has been pivotal to where I am today,” she said.
Bridget Greaney (MBA’22) also feels Georgetown’s supportive environment and numerous programs involving venture capital increased her passion for the area.
As a Georgetown student, Greaney participated in the Venture Capital Investment Competition and a non-credit summer venture capital course. She has attended guest lectures and panels through the Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Club, as well as Graduate Women in Business.
Greaney is interning this year with the venture capital firm Greenspring Associates as part of the Venture Fellows Program.
“The venture capital community at Georgetown is constantly growing, and it is exciting to see more and more women choosing venture capital as a career path,” she said. “The support from students, professors, and alumni is amazing!”
Like Spanneut and Greaney, Natalie Poston’s (MBA’21) experience as a venture fellow prepared her to work in venture capital after graduation. Poston also is interning with Greenspring Associates, and she will be returning there as a full-time associate after graduation.
Additionally, Poston served as vice president of the Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Club and a member of Georgetown’s Venture Capital Investment Competition team in spring 2021.
Poston believes Georgetown’s curriculum, network, and programs prepare students of all backgrounds for a career in venture capital.
“The MBA core curriculum in my first semester brought me up to speed on the business fundamentals I needed,” she said. “Once I had those in place, I started to take electives focused on entrepreneurship and venture capital.”
She credits MBA Career Center Assistant DeanEric Young for his role in helping her interview and network with top venture capital firms. Young believes it is the uniqueness of Georgetown students that make them stand out.
“They have come from different backgrounds with specialized interests and experiences,” he said . “They are curious, confident, humble and discerning. They have a point of view and have taken up the challenge to learn venture capital, network with practitioners, and make a powerful impact.”
Poston agrees that Georgetown can prepare anyone to be in venture capital, no matter the person’s background.
“I often had imposter syndrome when recruiting for my venture fellowship, but I was comforted to know there is no perfect background for a venture capital role,” she said. “An MBA is a perfect way to pivot into the industry.”
Karina Chan (B’20) reflected on her experiences in venture capital and wrote a book about them. After participating in the Venture Capital Investment Competition, she felt the gender gap in venture capital is a real problem. Her book, Women in Venture Capital: How to Break into the Boys Club of Venture Capital: Lessons Learned from the Best of the Best, contains stories from successful female partners and managing directors.
“I was the only girl on my team in the Venture Capital Investment Competition,” she said. “I wondered to myself: if a majority male group acts like this with fake money, what is real venture capital like? Was it just my one experience or is this normal?”
She believes Georgetown offers many resources in entrepreneurship, including the entrepreneurs-in-residence who provide advice to students.
Jeff Reid, professor of the practice and founding director, Georgetown Entrepreneurship, has organized extensive coaching for students in the Venture Capital Investment Competition, leading to multiple global titles for both undergraduates and graduate student teams.
“We are proud that so many Georgetown students—both men and women—are earning coveted roles in the venture capital industry. We work hard to offer many resources that prepare them to succeed.”