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PicMonkey CEO and GeekWire Chairman Jonathan Sposato speaking at the Seattle Angel Conference.
PicMonkey CEO and GeekWire Chairman Jonathan Sposato speaking at the Seattle Angel Conference.

Seattle entrepreneur Jonathan Sposato has a time-tested rule in business, drawing from his experience of owning and operating bars.

If you create a place for men, only men will show up. But if you create a place for women, men and women will show up. 

Jonathan Sposato at Startupday 2015
Jonathan Sposato

Sposato today doubled-down on that philosophy — declaring in a keynote presentation at the Seattle Angel Conference that moving forward he’ll only consider investing in startups that have at least one female founder.

The declaration drew huge applause from the crowd of more than 150 people.

Sposato, who now leads the Seattle online photo editing startup PicMonkey and previously sold two companies to Google, made the remarks in response to an audience member’s question about the changing dynamics in the Seattle angel investment climate.

Sposato, an angel investor in companies such as GeekWire, GlamHive, EveryMove and PokitDok, said that he’s gathered hard evidence that it is harder for women-led companies to raise money.

And Sposato says that’s just not right, calling it a “disturbing trend.” Here are his full remarks:

“I think a lot of times — us angel investors — we try too hard to pattern-match to perhaps Silicon Valley. I think, candidly, it is very hard for female entrepreneurs to get funded. I will say it this way. I will say it more generally. I think sometimes it can be very hard for entrepreneurs to get funded if they don’t fit the canonical image of that sort of Silicon Valley or Seattle area tech guy.

As someone who is a prolific angel, I know, I have specific data — I’ve A-B tested this unwittingly — that if you take three young men with computer science backgrounds and maybe a couple of them worked more recently on Facebook or Amazon, and they go out and want to raise $1.4 million. That angel round: easy peasy. Done in 60 days, 90 days. Right? And it is because they have a great idea and it is because they have a strong lead (investor) and people rally around that. I think, apples to apples, when it is a couple of three women doing that, it takes longer. It takes longer. And I think we need to examine why that is.

In fact … I will declare right now, I will take this moment to say that: Moving forward, as an angel investor, I am not going to invest in any company that does not have a female founder. I think the world is better when we can create products that are a different kind of product.”

He also said that the angel investment climate in Seattle remains “pretty fractured,” noting that events like the Seattle Angel Conference are doing a good job of bringing startup investors together. Even so, he said that the investment community needs to work harder to gel in Seattle.

Editor’s note: Jonathan Sposato is the chairman of GeekWire. 

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