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Can You Fundraise in Silicon Valley While Pregnant?

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 30/03/2016 Peretz Partensky

2016-03-29-1459280505-9802154-DSC09637.jpg © Provided by The Huffington Post 2016-03-29-1459280505-9802154-DSC09637.jpg
My co-founder and I have a baby. Our company, Sourcery, is three and a half years old, and to nurture its growth we are raising our next round of funding.
My co-founder, Na'ama Moran, is our CEO. She has excelled as a fundraiser, raising over $6M to date.
This time she is fundraising while pregnant.
Na'ama is direct. She's not the kind of person to pretend about anything. In the third trimester, her condition is nearly impossible to hide anyway. And yet surprisingly, most investors have scrupulously avoided discussing the fact.
The majority of investors -- 96 percent of the venture capitalists -- are men. It's likely they suppress the question because they don't want to come off as the insensitive brute who doubts a female founder's commitment to her company by drawing attention to her pregnancy.
But just because they aren't asking, it doesn't mean the pregnancy isn't foremost in their minds. It is almost worse left unaddressed. It lingers as a significant uncertainty and manifests itself in the form of an unconscious bias the investors themselves don't realize. For all the science and metrics of success, the "pattern matching" that investors engage in, a lot of investment decisions come down to gut feeling about the founders' ability to execute.
On a call last month, a male investor finally raised the issue of pregnancy and whether Na'ama should lead our fundraising. When Na'ama responded calmly, he expressed relief. "I was really worried about how you would react. But I needed to tell you that everyone you meet will wonder how your pregnancy will impact your ability to deliver the fundraising goals."
Start-ups are notoriously complicated endeavors. Like everyone who has spent years in Silicon Valley, I've seen many companies experience challenges, including start-ups with male executives who were unprepared for the stress of children because they assumed their partners would be doing the work, and that it wouldn't impact them. When male executives have families, it is invisible. When female executives have children, they don't have the option of hiding it. They have to plan responsibly.
This double standard applies to many women in professional roles, but the life choices of a female CEO who is also fundraising are put under even more scrutiny.
I may be a male founder, but that doesn't mean kids won't play into my working life. My wife -- a mechanical engineer, who recently accepted a new job -- and I are also thinking about children. I'm watching with interest as ideas about children and work evolve in my life and in Silicon Valley.
I am in the privileged position to observe raw and sincere impressions of strong women who are dear to me, who are deliberate, fiercely intelligent, and brave enough to bring any issue to the fore.
As a co-founder, I am no less invested in the business than our future investors. Far from being coy, however, Na'ama and I have been talking about how pregnancy and children will fit into our company's work patterns and practices for months. The more we've discussed it, the more I have come to realize how lucky I am that we can.
Na'ama dedicates all of her waking hours to fundraising, but she encouraged me to write if I must.
After the call with the investor who questioned whether her pregnancy would affect her ability to close the round, Na'ama was stirred. She told me that this is the first time she felt what it is like to be a woman, rather than a person, in her interactions with investors. This experience has inspired her to engage more with other women in the tech community.
Today Na'ama dedicates all of her waking hours to fundraising, and she encouraged me to write about this if I must. And I must. I couldn't be silent about it, both as a business partner and as a friend. When I asked her about what this was like for her, Na'ama wrote the following...
Read the read of the story on Medium.

SILICON VALLEY © VisionsofAmerica/Joe Sohm via Getty Images SILICON VALLEY

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