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The Patty Abramson
Social Venture Lab

Named in honor of the late Patty Abramson, a venture capitalist (and GDS parent and grandparent) who was a prolific funder of women founders, the Venture Lab’s goal is to nurture future generations of GDS social entrepreneurs by providing the skills, mentorship and, in some cases, seed money to create and incubate social ventures. Recognizing that bringing an idea to life requires support, mentorship, cheerleading, technical training, and financial acumen, the Venture Lab is intended to serve as an incubation hub for young entrepreneurs at GDS who have transformative ideas for social change.

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The Venture Lab’s goal is to nurture future generations of GDS social entrepreneurs by providing the skills, mentorship and, in some cases, seed money (aka "Patty Grants") to create and incubate social ventures. Recognizing that bringing an idea to life requires support, mentorship, cheerleading, technical training, and financial acumen, the Venture Lab is intended to serve as an incubation hub for young entrepreneurs at GDS who have transformative ideas for social change. The Venture Lab connects directly to one of the Civic Lab’s aims, which is to spur social entrepreneurship among young people looking to solve urgent societal challenges. 

 

Inspired by the legacy of Patty Abramson, a venture capitalist focused on investing in women (Patty was also a former member of the GDS board of trustees, alumni parent and grandparent), the Venture Lab connects directly to one of the Civic Lab’s aims, which is to spur social entrepreneurship among young people looking to solve urgent societal challenges. It will be open to all young people regardless of gender identity — and, given Patty’s life work of trying to even the playing field for female entrepreneurs, it will feature an intentional focus on nurturing future generations of GDS female entrepreneurs by ensuring that young women are at least 50% of the Venture Lab’s participants, grant recipients, and mentors. 

 

Leaning into Patty’s legacy, we believe the Venture Lab can play a role in closing the entrepreneurial gender gap. For context, just 2% of all venture capital dollars go to female-led businesses (PitchBook), and only 8% of all venture capitalists and 6% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. Of unicorn companies (startups valued at $1 billion or more) male founders outweigh female founders 20:1. Patty’s daughter, Jenny Abramson ‘93 (also a current GDS parent and former Chair of the GDS Board of Trustees), was inspired by her mother’s legacy and yet surprised by the persistence of the challenges her mother worked so hard to address over her career. In a previous interview with a news outlet, Jenny reflected:  “When my mom was investing 20 plus years ago, women got 2.5% of all venture capital dollars, and today, women get less than that.”

 

And yet, when women do get an opportunity to lead, they excel. Data conclusively shows that women-led companies actually earn more revenue (10% more revenue, BCG), have higher valuations (64% vs. 55%, IFC), and lead their companies to quicker exits than those with all male teams (on average, one year faster, All Raise/PitchBook). 

 

The purpose of the Patty Abramson Social Venture Lab is to help give students the foundational and practical skills in their formative years to be social entrepreneurs – regardless of gender but with an eye to promoting gender equity in the entrepreneurship space. Imagine how much potential can be unlocked in our society if we give everyone an equal opportunity and the support behind it to be the founders of tomorrow’s great new organizations, companies, and social ventures. 

Student Resources

Reports on Gender Diversity:

 

Reports/pieces on Social Impact Startups:

 

Startup Guides:

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