Study: Ugly men have a tougher time raising venture capital

Good looking men raise more money. Photo via Shutterstock

Good looking men raise more money. Photo via Shutterstock

When it comes to raising cash, you’re better off looking a bit like Brad Pitt or David Beckham.

A new study out from researchers at MIT, Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania indicates that men who are less physically attractive have a much harder time raising money. It also indicates that women have a harder time raising money than men, a fact that has been documented and researched in the past.

The paper — titled “Investors prefer entrepreneurial ventures pitched by attractive men” — was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers compiled their findings by analyzing short investor pitch competitions, and conducting experiments.

MIT News has more details on the study, noting that male entrepreneurs are 60 percent more likely to succeed than female entrepreneurs. It also found that physical attractiveness, as rated by those viewing pitches, produces a 36 percent increase in pitch success.

As part of the experiment, the researchers showed videos of identical business plans — one being narrated by a man and the other by a woman. Respondents chose the plans presented by men 68 percent of the time.

Women are certainly underrepresented in the technology business, with one study indicating that women founded less than five percent of tech firms between 2004 and 2007. Another study found that just five percent of venture capital dollars when to women in 2001.

Here’s an overview from the paper’s abstract:

Entrepreneurship is a central path to job creation, economic growth, and prosperity. In the earliest stages of start-up business creation, the matching of entrepreneurial ventures to investors is critically important. The entrepreneur’s business proposition and previous experience are regarded as the main criteria for investment decisions.

Our research, however, documents other critical criteria that investors use to make these decisions: the gender and physical attractiveness of the entrepreneurs themselves. Across a field setting (three entrepreneurial pitch competitions in the United States) and two experiments, we identify a profound and consistent gender gap in entrepreneur persuasiveness.

Investors prefer pitches presented by male entrepreneurs compared with pitches made by female entrepreneurs, even when the content of the pitch is the same. This effect is moderated by male physical attractiveness: attractive males were particularly persuasive, whereas physical attractiveness did not matter among female entrepreneurs.

Photo via Shutterstock.

  • boop

    The funny thing is most men think they’re good looking.

  • RobertinSeattle

    Interesting study. If they took it further, they’d probably also realize that race also has a big role in funding as well. Being good-looking AND white will assuredly tip the deck a lot more favorably. How often do other races get funded in front of crowds as compared to young white guys? That’s reality…

  • RobertinSeattle

    Interesting study. If they took it further, they’d probably realize
    that race also has a big role in funding as well. Being good-looking AND
    white will assuredly tip the deck a lot more favorably.

    How often do entrepreneurs of other races actually get funded in
    front of crowds as compared to young white guys? That’s reality…

  • Chris

    Gee you need a study to find out that people who are in the money business are shallow. I am surprised they can see anything beyond $ signs at all.