And the Future of the Venture Fellows Program

By Courtney Buie Lipkin, Partner at Susa Ventures

Last June, our team came together to brainstorm ways Susa could meaningfully advance efforts to increase diversity in venture capital. We urgently felt the need to act on, rather than just voice our support for, the social justice movements in our country. What emerged from these conversations was the Venture Fellows Program, a six-month immersive experience for aspiring venture investors, with the goal of creating a transparent, meritocratic entry point into the industry.

We released a public application in July and received nearly a thousand applications for thirteen slots in our first cohort (VFP1). Without exception, the fellows we’ve been lucky enough to work with over the last six months are truly incredible.

The hate crimes against the AAPI community are stark reminders that we have far to go in this work. However, after the VFP1 cohort, we have never felt more energized about the possibility of a more diverse and inclusive venture community.

Last week we held our final evening session with this first class. We are so grateful for the enthusiasm the fellows brought to their participation in the program:

“More than almost any personal or professional program I’ve been a part of, [VFP] taught me so many tangible skills; I felt the curtain was lifted on an area I formerly felt a degree of imposter syndrome toward, and I felt I was able to cultivate a network of mentors/peers that I could see myself partnering with in the future.”“…in hindsight, I would have paid to participate in the program. This program has heavily influenced my decision to pursue venture investing full-time.”“…I think this is the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship between Susa, the Fellows community, and my future endeavors. I’m looking forward to building my career in partnership with the folks I’ve met here.”

Thank you to all the mentors and speakers who offered up their time and knowledge. The insight and vulnerability each of you offered during our bi-weekly sessions made this program successful; we are truly fortunate to have each of you in our corner.

Finally, many of our incredible Venture Fellows Alums are actively seeking opportunities in venture capital. These individuals are experts in their fields, have deep founder empathy, and bring fresh perspectives and networks to each conversation. We can’t wait to invest alongside them in their future endeavors. Most importantly and luckily for us, they’ll always be part of the Susa Family.

We plan to launch applications for the second cohort (VFP2) of the Venture Fellows Program this summer. Please look for more details in early June and help us amplify the message to as many interested applicants as possible. You can also stay up to date by following us on Twitter / LinkedIn!

Graduating Susa Venture Fellows Cohort One was originally published in Susa Ventures on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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