In 2015, I wrote a LinkedIn post about “Investing in Women” and a new investor training program we were launching at 500 Startups.
“The Investor’s Guide to Silicon Valley Investing” (IGSVI) was just a pilot program but it immediately resonated in our community. It’s been so amazing to watch early participants like Arlan Hamilton, Pocket Sun and Elizabeth Galbut embody our program’s values, and redefine our industry in the process.
A lot has happened in the venture world since that first program. The artist formerly known as IGSVI eventually grew up, got a little (just a little) more serious, and became VC Unlocked, the series of investor education programs we run around the world.
Today, as we launch the recruitment period for the 6th cohort of our flagship program, VC Unlocked, (hosted at Stanford University Aug. 19-30), we are making a few changes to our admissions process.
Due to increasing demand, we’re moving to an invite-only admissions model. We’re asking our community to nominate emerging leaders who want to shape the future of the venture capital industry. Ideal candidates should have at least a year of experience in either angel investing, venture, fund management, or have access to a different network and deal flow.
Candidates can also request an interview with a member of our admissions team, but we’ll be giving preference to direct referrals from the 500 Startups network.
We are also adding two rounds of admissions. We encourage candidates to apply before the early application deadline of March 29, 2019 to improve their chances of admission. Please see the key dates below:
Early enrollment period
- March 29: Early application deadline
- April 1-5: Interview period
- May 1: Early enrollment payment deadline
Regular enrollment period
- June 5: Regular application deadline
- June 10-14: Interview period
- July 12: Regular enrollment payment deadline
Only participants who have secured their spot in the program during the early admissions period will get access to exclusive benefits, including one week of office space in the 500’s San Francisco office in the calendar year after the program as well as a private webinar and Q&A session with our CEO, Christine Tsai prior to the program.
We’re also thrilled to announce two new scholarships:
SoGal Ventures Scholarship – We’ve teamed up with our friends at SoGal Ventures, the first female-led millennial venture capital fund investing in diverse entrepreneurs in the U.S. and Asia, to offer a spot for an exceptional woman investor. Fun fact: the founders of SoGal Ventures met at VC Unlocked!
Cross Culture Ventures Scholarship – Our second scholarship is reserved for an investor from a diverse or underrepresented background. Marlon Nichols, a previous guest lecturer at VC Unlocked, and his team at Cross Culture Ventures are an example of a firm that’s actively changing the face of VC. We’re thrilled to offer this scholarship in their name.
There is no special application process for scholarships. Interested candidates should still be nominated by a peer or request an interview. Both scholarships will cover the full cost of tuition. Winners will be selected by the 500 Startups admissions team after the interview week and notified directly.
We’ve now funded over 50 scholarships for investors from underrepresented backgrounds. It’s been one of the most effective ways to empower diverse investors and level the playing field in our industry.
Since 2015, we’ve educated more than 400 aspiring VCs and angels through programs with the Stanford Center for Professional Development, UC Berkeley, INSEAD, and our own team at 500.
Overall, 33% of our alumni are women. More than 61% are international, hailing from 64 countries.
Yes, there is always more work to be done, but I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the awesome group of people we’ve brought together these last few years.
As I said in that first blog post, I want to live in a world where 50% of our co-investors, leaders and board seat members are women. We’re not there yet. Call me crazy, but we’ll keep trying.