“When the venture capital industry catches cold, underrepresented founders catch pneumonia,” Tiana Tukes once said.
Tukes, the co-founder of LGBT+ VC, the first 501(C)(3) nonprofit dedicated to advancing the LGBTQ venture capital ™ community, is on a steadfast mission to address the supply crisis of LGBTQ investors in financial markets.
With a passion for early-stage investing and stints at major companies like Accenture, Spotify, and Silicon Valley Bank, Tukes founded LGBT + VC in response to anti-LGBTQ attacks, and less than 1% of venture capital goes towards LGBTQ entrepreneurs.
Learn more about this incredible founder and all she is doing to bring awareness and support to LGBTQ founders below!
What type of work does LGBT+VC do? Why is the organization important to the relationship between LGBTQ entrepreneurs and venture capitalists?
Tiana Tukes: Our work addresses the pervasive supply crisis of LGBTQ+ investors in financial markets. Fundamentally, the innovation economy needs more openly-LGBTQIA+ and ally investors as decision- makers and check writers to create a more equitable, thriving investment ecosystem for all underestimated founders.
digitalundivided: As a founder, what has been the biggest struggle you’ve had to overcome in building your business? Conversely, what kind of results have you seen since your founding?
Tiana Tukes: Within our first 90 days, we established a global partnership with Amazon Web Services, launched three flagship chapters (Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York), and hosted the first annual LGBT+ VC Summit for over 500 limited partners, venture capitalists, and tech investors.
digitalundivided: You recently held LGBT+ VC Summit Week | From Stonewall to Silicon Valley, The world’s first in-person gathering for LGBTQ and ally venture capitalists. What were the primary event takeaways from this week?
Tiana Tukes: We hosted over 500 leading VCs and founders over five days for insightful conversations and meaningful programming. I’m proud that our no-cost programming is accessible to all entrepreneurs and investors.
digitalundivided: What is the next milestone you wish to achieve in your entrepreneurial journey?
Tiana Tukes: We look forward to hosting the Out Open Tennis Tournament for Trans Rights this September. Amidst the onslaught of hate, we’re excited to convene investors, operators, and tech. Trans* people are champions and deserve material support.
digitalundivided: What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs, especially those who identify as LGBTQ, on their entrepreneurial journey?
Tiana Tukes: LGBTQIA+ founders build some of the best businesses. I would remind them to know their worth and that venture capital is a means, not an end.
digitalundivided: For those LGBTQ digitalundivided community members who are interested in LGBT +VC, find out ways you can get involved below:
From Stonewall to Silicon Valley, you can now Join a local chapter of LGBT+VC!
[Editors note]: This interview has been lightly edited from its original transcription.