What makes an investment firm successful? Is it deal flow and having access to the best potential deals and entrepreneurs? Some say it’s being a student of market trends and knowing where the next big investments will lie. Others will tell you that it’s all about the ability to pick good teams and judge entrepreneurial abilities and character. Ask around in most VC circles and you’ll probably get more of the same answers.
At Maryland investment firm, TEDCO, their recent announcement represents a strategic evolution of program offerings under the TEDCO 2.0 strategy, and multiple leadership promotions that show they have their own strategy for what makes a firm succeed – Diversity.
Leadership changes and promotions include:
- Jennifer Hammaker has been promoted to Vice President of Business Development.
- Arti Santhanam, Ph.D. has been promoted to Director of MII, replacing Jennifer Hammaker.
- Angela Singleton and McKeever (Mac) Conwell are the new Program Managers for TEDCO’s new Pre-Seed Fund. They will design, launch and manage a new funding program for early-stage companies led by underrepresented entrepreneurs.
- Anne Balduzzi, who has served as the Program Manager for TEDCO’s Rural Business Innovation Initiative (RBI2), will begin an expanded role as Director of Advisory Services.
A study from Deloitte and the National Venture Capital Association of 217 VC firms showed that only 11% of their investment leadership positions were held by women, and a dismal 2% were held by black, Latino or Hispanics. Diversity is clearly a major problem in most firms, and it’s worse when it comes to who they invest in. Of the $60B VC funding distributed in 2015 only 7% went to women and only 2% to black male founders.
As multiple Government and business community efforts are under way to bring more investment into Maryland to support the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem, these recent leadership promotions show that TEDCO is positioned to play a major role in making it happen. Operating by traditional Venture Capital’s white, male dominated model is not only wrong, but it’s a bad business model; especially in this state. Consistently ranked as one of the most diverse states, and recently recognized for having four of the ten most diverse cities in the Country, Maryland’s cultural diversity may be our greatest entrepreneurial asset that’s yet to be fully realized.
To successfully grow TEDCO’s investment portfolio and Maryland’s entrepreneurial ecosystem they have to be able to tap into those traditionally undeserved markets that range from minority to rural businesses. “A robust diversity-focused strategy will allow us to actively look into all communities for great technology gems that we can invest in.” states Arti Santhanam, Ph.D., Director of MII. “Diversity in investments has to come from both seeking out diverse investment opportunities AND leveraging a diverse investment team to evaluate, support & manage this portfolio. TEDCO has initiated different efforts to solve both of those challenges and continues to refine them.”
Dr Santhanam, who was most recently Program Manager for the Life Science Investment Fund (LSIF), takes over the MII program as one of TEDCO’s leaders who has seen the length and breadth of all their program offerings, from pre-seed, seed, investment and back. Promoting diverse operational experiences at the firm is another example of how they position their team to be able to add the most value to the entrepreneurs that they serve.
“The leadership of TEDCO represents executive-level experience in technology investing, fundraising, research and operations,” says George Davis, CEO of TEDCO, “and they will be a critical key to guiding and launching the future of technology companies in Maryland.”
Revamping each of these programs and ensuring they have the right leadership will help Davis to deliver on his TEDCO 2.0 strategy. The new strategy that was unveiled last year was Davis’ commitment to making TEDCO more venture minded, and to focus on collaborations and partnerships that support the ecosystem and the entrepreneur with the resources they need.
In successful businesses, diversity is more than a human resources statistic. Instead it’s a transnational philosophy that is applied throughout the business as a strategy to build the best team, be the most innovative, attract the right customers, and deliver the most value. At TEDCO these days we see a business that is delivering on the foundation of a diverse team, diverse program offerings and diverse investments which all seem to be coming together under a unified vision. We also see that breaking from the mold of traditional VC’s can be a successful business strategy.
For more information on TEDCO’s revamped program offerings please see the full announcement.
Chris Frew, @biobuzzMd
chris @ biobuzz.io