Networking Frictions in Venture Capital, and the Gender Gap in Entrepreneurship
50 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2019 Last revised: 31 Mar 2020
Date Written: October 22, 2019
Exploiting random variation in the number of venture capitalist (VC) judges assigned to panels at Harvard Business School’s New Venture Competition (NVC) between 2000 and 2015, we find that exposure to more VC judges increases male participants’ chances of founding a VC-backed startup after HBS much more than this exposure increases female participants’ chances. A survey suggests this is in part because male participants more often proactively reach out to VC judges after the NVC. Our results suggest that networking frictions are an important reason men benefit more than women from exposure to VCs. Such frictions can help explain part of the gender gap in entrepreneurship, and also have implications for how to design networking opportunities to facilitate financing of the best (rather than just the best networked) ideas.
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