Episode 13: Inside Silicon Valley’s Gender Bias: Helping Female Entrepreneurs Secure Funding From Investors – Lakshmi Balachandra

On today’s show we welcome Lakshmi Balachandra, a Professor of Entrepreneurship at Babson College and an International Diana Institute Research Fellow at Babson’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership.

Topics include:

  • Lakshmi’s early days as an associate VC and why she dedicated her career to studying the impact of trust, gender and other entrepreneurial characteristics in acquiring early-stage funding.
  • Exploring Lakshmi’s research that suggests “it’s not women who have a harder time raising money from investors, it’s anyone who fits certain feminine stereotypes.”
  • The Theranos scandal: how Elizabeth Holmes altered her behaviors to be more appealing to male investors.
  • How women founders can benefit from having a clearer understanding of what the expectations are when they step into the pitch room and how they can present themselves most effectively.
  • Are women founded venture capital firms a viable solution to Silicon Valley’s gender bias?
  • The books Lakshmi is currently reading and more.

About Lakshmi Balachandra:

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Lakshmi Balachandra is an Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at Babson College. Her research examines the impact of trust, gender and other entrepreneurial characteristics in acquiring early-stage funding. She has been a Fellow in the Women and Public Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government focusing on the impact of gender biases on women entrepreneurs. She was awarded fellowships for her research on VC decision-making from the Kauffman Foundation and the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.

She was a co-author of the Diana Report, 2014, the 1st comprehensive analysis of venture capital investments in women entrepreneurs since 1999. Her research has been published in Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, The Journal of Business Ethics, and Negotiation Journal, and her work has received a wide range of press including the AP, USA Today, Harvard Business Review, Businessweek, the Financial Times, Entrepreneur Magazine, Inc. Magazine, and Reuters.

Dr. Balachandra has taught courses and international programs to students and executives on entrepreneurship, negotiation, improvisation, and leadership. She consults to a wide range of companies and organizations including the Angel Capital Association, Novartis, Shell and the CIA, and frequently guest lectures in several courses at the Harvard Business School. She taught a course she designed on improvisation and leadership at the MIT Sloan School of Management for 10 years.

In her professional career, she has been intimately acquainted in multiple aspects of entrepreneurship. She has been an entrepreneur – she opened and operated a retail specialty toy store in California upon graduating from college. And she has worked in entrepreneurial finance as she spent seven years in venture capital and in mergers and acquisitions investment banking with firms in Boston, Massachusetts and San Diego, California.

While working for the largest women-owned, women-focused venture capital firm in the country, she founded the Women’s Venture Capital Network, the first network of its kind in the country where she organized, created and managed numerous networking events and educational panels for women professionals in the industry. During (and in-between) her professional career in finance and entrepreneurship, Dr. Balachandra has also been a professional stand-up comedian and improvisational comedian performing in comedy clubs across the country.

Prior to joining Babson College, Dr. Balachandra was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Northeastern University in Boston, MA and a Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the Harvard Extension School. She has also taught at Boston College and UCSD Rady’s School of Management.

Learn more about Lakshmi and read one of her recent Harvard Business Review articles.