VentureOut Looks to Back LGBT Entrepreneurs

Greg Wiles was carving powder on the slopes during Aspen Gay Ski Week with some of his Harvard Business School buddies. He was struck by how many other people he met in the lift lines were starting their own companies and looking for funding. That was in January. Since then, he’s been setting up his West Hollywood-based venture capital fund called VentureOut, which will invest in LGBT entrepreneurs and management teams. “What we’re trying to do is invest in gay folks who are very capable and have great business ideas, but who may not be getting the capital they need because they don’t have the connections,” Wiles said. “We believe very strongly that the market’s not efficient and this is the way to level the playing field.” Many of the people he met on the slopes told him they were finding it hard to relate to the typical venture capitalist. Wiles, 29, said people invest in what they know. So investors who are straight, white and male tend to bet on founders who are straight, white and male. But he finds it preposterous to assume that demographic has the monopoly on good ideas. “A lot of times, the role of the VC is kind of like the chief psychologist for the entrepreneur,” Wiles said. “And when you feel that person doesn’t really understand the personal life that you lead, it can actually be a detriment.” Wiles felt like he could become a venture capitalist to bridge the gap between the LGBT community and corporate financing. As an openly gay former associate at Santa Monica private equity fund U.S. Renewables Group, he had a foot in each world. After mulling over the idea with some friends, he decided to put this thesis to the test by raising capital and meeting with LGBT entrepreneurs.
Los Angeles Business Journal This excerpt is taken from the article ‘VentureOut looks to back LGBT entrepreneurs’. To read the full text of the article, please visit Los Angeles Business Journal and sign up for a free user account.

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