I founded the largest global community of female tech investors. I am Sutian Dong, co-founder of the Global Women in VC Directory.Featured

Hi Everyone! I’m Sutian Dong, a former partner at Female Founders Fund and co-founder of the Global Women in VC Directory, the largest community of female technology investors worldwide, with 2,500 members across 1,500 funds in over 150 cities and 50 countries. Previously, I was an investor at FirstMark Capital. I'm currently working on a new vehicle focused on investing in and supporting an ecosystem of founders and funders to create massive change at scale. I am a Houston native and studied finance and marketing at NYU Stern.Ask me about starting VC funds, supporting diverse founders, early-stage investing, building companies, being a board member, and more.
Thanks so much for joining us, @sutian. Elphas: please reply in the comments with your questions for @sutian before this Friday. She may not have time to answer every single question, so please emoji upvote the ones that interest you most. Thanks!!
Do you ever envision letting women entrepreneurs access your database of women technology investors?
Hi everyone, I’m so excited to be here and meet you all (virtually)! We’d love to figure out a way to better connect female entrepreneurs and female investors. One of the primary things that entrepreneurs struggle with is finding the right VC partners, and I think the Women in VC directory can create a network that matches startups and funds. We’re still a very grassroots, lean organization, so if there is a vision that you have for this product, I’m all ears.
I can build an intelligent matching engine in half a day. If that's all you need....I will make one this weekend.
Hi! I am also starting a community, and I love to hear from others who've already done that in different realms. I have a lot of questions -- likely overkill, so please feel free to pick whichever one(s) you are most excited to answer.1) How did you find your 2,500 members?2) What made them want to join your community?3) When people started joining, what was your overall game plan for how you were going to engage them?4) How did the plan in #3 change over time as you learned and grew?5) What is one thing you tried in #3 that really did NOT work, and what is one thing that did?
I am also building startup which has a revised operational model as to how people work and earn a living. Our target market is SMBs. I have pretty much the same questions.Thanks @sutian for your time and valuable insights!
Hi @sutian, thank you for your time - much appreciated. I also share @jillgreenberg's questions! Thanks Jill for your questions.
This is such a good question, thank you. Our 2,500 person membership has grown organically - we began with 15 women who we knew in NYC, and over the course of 5 years, we’ve grown through word of mouth exclusively. Our members have been excited to join the network because there’s real authenticity and value in the relationships they’ve built. When you find a new deal to invest in through a woman you’ve met in the directory, that’s big. One of the big learning moments in growing this community was transitioning it from exclusively NYC-based in-person events to the global platform that it is today. My co-founder and I had initially thought that we could scale more in-person events, but quickly realized that the real value we provide is serving as the global infrastructure and connective tissue that enables women all over the world to connect. VCs in places like Boston, London, Singapore, and more have used our platform to host their own local meetups.
I recommend you to read the book "Get Together" it’s about how to build community.
Hi Sutian, thanks for answering questions this week! It's great to see someone building a community of female investors to build a strong network and it's great to see 2,500 members all joined under one umbrella. What are some events or opportunities that you offer to the group to continue build out community ties? Do you give members more opportunities to meet entrepreneurs and coinvest with each other?
We actually started the community as a dinner series in NYC in 2015, when there were just 15 (!) women in VC in NYC at that time. We’ve continued to host dinners that are now 10x the size in NYC, and we also have a Slack community of 2,000 members that is super active. Given the pandemic, it is incredibly important to us to make sure that the virtual community continues to create strong connections and opportunities, and our members have used our Slack channels to find new deal opportunities, co-investors, new jobs, and more.
Hey Sutian ,Great initiative. Is it possible to access the directory? Also, is the slack channel open for all who want to join?-Thanks, Naina
Do you have a perspective on VC versus profit sharing versus loans for funding your start up? I’ve been hearing a lot about different funding approaches lately. Curious if you have a take.
I think venture capital is an appropriate route for very few startups and companies. When you take traditional venture capital, the implicit agreement is that you’re trying to create the billion-dollar-plus company and are ready for the “costs” of VC, which include potentially heavy dilution and loss of control over time. If you’re building a business more slowly and/or don’t have aspirations to be a unicorn company, the less dilutive financing options can enable you to retain more ownership and control. Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better when it comes to company growth. It all depends on your goals and timeline for your business.
Hi Sutian - great to have you hear and I really enjoyed leading the F3 fellows program last year. I would love to learn more what you have found to be the main differences in your role with F3 and your current role leading the Global Women in VC directory and what inspired you to make the jump?
Hi Jessica! I’ve been working on a new fund that I’ll be announcing soon, which is taking up most of my time and energy. It’s inspired in part by the growth of the Global Women in VC directory, and the multitudes of intelligent and uniquely networked female fund managers in the community. With the massive shifts in the types of founders starting companies and the type of VCs starting funds comes an opportunity to identify and invest in the next generation of VCs and founders. I’m excited to share more on my new project soon.
That is awesome, @sutian! Thank you for sharing.
Hi @sutian thank you so much for taking the time to answer questions. I've been in the tech industry for 20 years and am figuring out what I want to do next in my career. I'm looking to get into being a board member or consulting for startups to help them build amazing diverse engineering teams -- I'm on a mission to keep women and other underrepresented minorities in tech. Do you have any advice on how to start being considered for being a board member or consulting? How do I get myself known by the VC community to start making the right connections?
Over the last few years, there have been a number of great sites launched for consulting and board opportunities! Two that come immediately to mind are The Boardlist and The Second Shift.
Hi Sutian. Thanks for this! In your view, what are the main mindset differences for female VCs and Founders vs non-female?
I think one of the biggest differences between female and non-female VCs and founders is less in mindset, but more in network. Investing, at the early stage, is largely network-driven, and if you have a smaller startup/fund network as a founder or VC, it’s that much harder to raise capital. THIS is exactly why we need more female VCs deploying capital and more LPs committing to female-led VC funds, so that the companies who have the potential to be the billion-dollar businesses of tomorrow are seen and funded by folks who understand and believe in those opportunities.
Hi Sutian, Thanks for offering your time! Do you or any of your directory members keep statistics (in terms of gender, race and ethnicity) on the breakdown of the founders they meet with vs. invest with? If so, are there any standout facts from the way women are thinking about diverse investing vs. male counterparts?
We are actually coming out with a report on the demographics of female VCs in our network soon - it’s data that is completely proprietary, and we hope that it will start conversations around the people deploying capital, which in turn meaningfully affects which founders get funded. More soon!
That's fantastic to hear! Thanks for sharing and keep up the great work.
Thanks for joining us, @sutian! I'm in the user research and market validation of a startup idea I have. I have received great feedback from practitioners, and I'm curious at what point do I start building the idea (which means a bootstrapped investment on my behalf), or doing more research? Since I'm funding it, I want to make sure I'm focusing on the right set of features out the gate; however, research takes time and being a startup momentum and taking advantage of time is critical.
I’m a big proponent of building as soon as possible to get feedback from the market. I don’t think you need a fully-built product at all, but rather a minimal viable product that enables you to learn and iterate. Many entrepreneurs follow the lean startup methodology here:
Sutian, I’d love to get your recommendation of books to better understand the VC world!
This is the list that I’ve been sharing as part of the onboarding process for my new firm:- Creative Capital: Georges Doriot and the Birth of Venture Capital, Spencer E. Ante- The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz- High Growth Handbook, Elad Gil- The Lean Startup, Eric Ries- ReWork, 37 Signals- Secrets of Sand Hill Road: Venture Capital and How to Get It, Scott Kupor- VC: An American History, Tom Nicholas- Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist, Brad Feld
Hi @sutian I'm wondering, since your community is global, are there any VC's who are women from the Middle East and are supporting startups that focus on women in the region, particularly regarding sexual health?
@doreentoutikian We should get in touch. Here is my email address: [email protected].
Wow, thank you so much @sutian for offering up your time! You are killing it. I am currently working on a startup that's all bootstrapped (networking app for young adults). We are hoping to launch July-August, but for my knowledge, at what point do you think it becomes necessary to get funded? Thank you very much and have a successful week ahead of you!
Hi Sutian! Firstly THANK YOU for all you do for this community. Would love your thoughts on what an LP looks for within an emerging manager in VC. What's critical to have in place in terms of track-record (view on person angel investments), fund strategy/portfolio construction, team, etc.?
I don’t have any questions (but thx!), just here to tell you you’re awesome 😍🧚‍♀️🙌🏻
Hi Sultian! Thank you for spending your time to do an AMA with us. What is the best way to build a diverse board of advisors?
Hi Sutian,I posted a question to the founder/VC community ( but am hoping you might have some thoughts you can share here, as well. I'm wondering whether/how COVID has changed the experience of raising and deploying capital for women in tech/VC.Part of me feels like, if I were raising money, I might be less intimidated by a phone or zoom call than an in-person meeting with someone I didn't know very well. But, I might also feel like I'd have to try (even) harder to make a lasting impression on them. Another example: while I might be relieved that I don't need to live in SF and scour membership clubs and coffee shops that are "sceney" to meet people, I might also find it difficult to network organically during this time. These are just a few examples of behaviors that are being modified and negotiated by women founders and VCs during this time -- curious if you have thoughts on any possible pros or cons, or if you know if others have been engaged on this topic at all.Thank you!
Hi Sutian, I’m not in VC but I consider myself an investor in women.Is there an appropriate group you can add me to/suggest?Thank you.My email is [email protected]
Hi @sutian! What's the best way to keep in touch with investors? My long-term goal is to start my own EdTech business in China. Not now because I feel like I don't understand the problem/pain point clearly enough. Still want to be in the loop of edupreneurs and investors nonetheless. What's a good way to keep in touch with these 'players'?
Hi Sutian, thanks for being here. I help female founders and diverse founder teams scale businesses and want to help more of them surpass the $1mm mark in revenue. To deliver the most value, I need to connect with later stage clients rather. I have joined several female founder communities and reached out directly. What is the best way to connect with them. What I have learned is that are talk to each other in their own networks? Do you see that? I have also reached out to the Female Founders a few times. Any ideas would be great, I really want to help as many female founders as possible!!
I’m so excited to read your post! I’m also a fellow NYU alum and a founder of a funding vehicle for women and minorities in the angel space. I’m always so excited to see more people tackling the needs in this space! I’d love to jump on a call and chat about synergies in what we’re each doing and how we can work together to support more entrepreneurs doing amazing things. Let me know if you’re open to that. Happy Tuesday!
Hi Suitan! Thank you for offering your time to answer questions. I'm currently a sophomore in college interested in learning more about careers at the intersection of tech, consumer, and investing. What challenges have you faced as a woman of color in venture capital and how have those experiences influenced your career, if at all? In retrospect, are there any things you know now that you wish you had known when you were 20, in undergrad, and totally confused!All the best,Irene
Hello Sutian! It's my first time to hear about a female focused VC initiative! I'm from Southeast Asia (Philippines), and haven't heard of one yet in our region. Thank you for doing what you do!I'm actually keen on learning about how do you build an impact investment fund that is also inclusive and founder-focused, especially in this part of our world that doesn't have a high concentration of angels and VC's yet (but there are a lot of wealthy folks who can be evangelized to be impact investors).Thanks again for your time!