Babylon Ventures and Sheworks.io, with the later committed to funding the enterprises of women tech founders. Often the only man at female-focused business events, Sarian is committed to accelerating the number of impactful female-owned startups.ark Sarian is a proud feminist and owner of venture capital firms,
An economist by trade, Sarian also advises several high net-worth individuals and private equity firms on innovation and sustainability within technology and lifestyle markets. His global business dealings expand from Shanghai to Stockholm, and San Francisco to Sydney.
Sarian offered AESTOLOGYY a candid discussion of what he’s learnt about startups from women, as the industry continues to grapple with bias and “bastardised systems.”
“The venture capital industry is ripe for change,” states Sarian.
“VCs are downplaying the success rate of women entrepreneurs – miscalculating risk.”
“We need to reallocate capital more efficiently and equitably.”
AESTOLOGYY: How has your demeanour changed by proactively interacting with more female founders? You are known to often be the only man at female-focused business events.
While most people like to fit in, I like to stand out. When I was young, I did this by showing off and being cocky. These are admittedly very ‘masculine’ traits – much like a peacock presenting its vibrant colours to a potential mate or enemy. As I’ve matured, I have learnt to be a better listener and activist after interacting more with women entrepreneurs.
For the past several years I have gone to many events where I am the only man in the room. It is a sure fire way to stand out. However, my intentions are to gain a deeper understanding of what it feels like to be the only person in the room that is markedly different.
You constantly hear of boardrooms, startups, construction sites, mines, even industries that are dominated by men, or where there was only one woman in the room. At these events, I am the only man in the room. Some ask if I’m a husband, others the venue manager.
What surprised me is that there was never much antagonism, or feelings of intimidation.
Rather than give the outsider a hard time, at these female-focused business events they embraced the anomaly [me]. Based on what I’ve heard, it’s not often the other way around.
I am acutely aware of my privilege, and this fills me with a sense of guilt. My natural physique has given me an unfair advantage. It is completely unfair and the bias needs to be adjusted for.
AESTOLOGYY: What are some traits you see exhibited in female tech founders that have helped them survive the industry, and better lead their enterprises?
Roughly only 3% of venture capital funding goes to women entrepreneurs. In the face of these stacked odds, women entrepreneurs often stick it out, just to compete on the same field – one that is often extremely biased against them.
Choosing to progress down this route not only has humps in the road, but also mountains. The conviction to participate is often a strong reflection of a desire to create meaningful change, and that is a signal of a startup founder worth investing in.
I am an energetic sentient full of creativity. I have learnt this is better when enhanced with a sophisticated equilibrium: harmony. Those that I’ve seen exercise life’s juggling act with unrelenting success are often single mothers. When faced with challenges, a calculated response – taking into account priorities rather than a reactionary impulse – is favourable. But it’s only possible when one operates with harmony.
‘Breaking the glass ceiling, disrupting the status quo, smashing the patriarchy:’ these are all impactful endeavours. Impact should not only be the goal of NGOs and philanthropic foundations – it should be at the core of all business. Businesses are created to solve problems and improve life.
“If you want to lift up humanity, empower women. It is the most comprehensive, pervasive, high-leverage investment you can make in human beings.”
– Melinda Gates [‘The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World’]
Empathy is a trait that must be developed and constantly worked on. My goal to increase my emotional intelligence was one of the most effective strategies I adopted in my early adult life. Looking at issues from others’ perspective, and putting yourself in their shoes is crucial, and should be encouraged. It expands to thinking about what customers want from a company, and how they will feel when they consume or interact with the product or service provided. Scientifically, women’s brains are generally more wired to be better empathisers. I have also found this has served female tech founders well when connecting with their potential customers.
AESTOLOGYY: Why do you believe it’s important that the venture capital market invests in more female founders?
The venture capital market needs to tip the scales in the favour of women, to remedy the unfair historic bias towards men. Rather than invest in people that look and sound like you – because that is comforting – early stage investors should proactively embrace diversity, and invest in people that look and sound different.
Diversification within financial and corporate systems has been bastardised – a broad range of strategies instead of a breadth in perspective, nationalities and personas. We must listen to all people, and all voices.
This is not the time to reverse globalisation, but rather to rethink it.
We are all in this together.
I am a cisgender man. I am a feminist. I am an ally. I will invest in women entrepreneurs and under-represented genders, nationalities and industries. I encourage more people to do the same. More women. More men. More people. It is people supporting people. Women have been fighting an uphill battle for far too long. It is not fair, it must change.
I will guard your flanks as you march us into a more prosperous and empathetic future.
|Espresso Display||Lightweight portable|