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ithout a doubt, Nancy Pfund is one of the

leading impact investors of our day.While not

yet a household name, “over the last decade,

Pfund has quietly built a reputation as the go-

to venture capitalist for companies looking to

make a social impact” (NY Times). With early

investments and tremendous successes in clean energy and impact

enterprises – Tesla Motors, SolarCity, Pandora, Revolution Foods, to

name a few – she has shaped the impact investing industry and paved

the way for generations of entrepreneurs and investors alike.

Aspart ofBetterVentures’ PreSeedProgram, Pfundspoke recently in

Oakland about her career and investment legacy. It was awide-ranging

conversation covering her background, her portfolio, Oakland, gender

and diversity in the technology industry, andwhere she is focusing the

firm’s recent $400 million venture fund.

Benefits of Impact Investing.

We emphatically reject the notion that there is any kind of sacrifice

on financial return by paying attention to social return as well. I know

people disagree with that, but we’ve been doing this for 12 years

and we have proof. There is no sacrifice and, in fact, we take a step further:

we think that investing for social impact makes you a better investor and that

these companies can have better returns.”

Diversity in Venture Capital and Entrepreneurship.

As an investor, beyond the companies you work with, you also have

a choice of who you invest in. And whether it be women or people of

color, it’s essential to call out the imbalances and lack of representation

that you might see in your industry.

What’s so healthy today is that people are talking about the

problem. When I was growing up in those companies [like Intel and

Hambrecht & Quist] you never even talked about [diversity]. And while I was

able to build a career that I loved, it wasn’t possible at the levels it should have

been for women and minorities. So the first step to tackling a problem is to

speak out, get people more sensitized, and then the networks that are being

established are just really working. We see more women entrepreneurs today

than we ever have. And part of that is whenever you have a more diverse fund

manager, you’re going to see a more diverse set of entrepreneurs.”


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