You can’t go on social media or turn on the news these days without being taken aback by a barrage of stories revolving around sexism.
First-hand accounts of how women have been harassed, discriminated against, assaulted, or even raped are pouring out of all parts of our culture—from Silicon Valley to Hollywood to middle America. Even our own VR/AR community has been affected by sex and gender discrimination.
These stories coming to light– from extreme assault examples to daily unconscious microaggressions– all underline one overarching theme: women are not playing on an even field. Sexism is institutionalized in our society at all levels.
As hard as it’s been to read these stories, it is opening up real conversations and opportunities for lasting change.
The WXR Venture Fund aims to level the playing field for women: starting with the immersive tech industry.
WXR stands for Women in XR—XR being an umbrella term for all things VR/AR/MR (and whatever new acronyms develop)—existing to elevate female founders and advance equality in the immersive tech industry and beyond.
It’s an unfortunate fact that investment opportunities are uneven (male-led startups were found to be four times more likely than female-led startups to be venture capital funded), despite strong evidence that women are good for business.
Women leaders are not only beneficial for revenue (startup teams with at least one female founder have been found to perform 63% better than all-male teams), but can also lower operating costs (companies with more diverse teams can have a 22% lower turnover rate).
WXR is a venture fund investing in startups in the VR/AR/XR industry that are committed to equal gender representation, and provides community infrastructure to support women leaders in immersive tech.
Earlier this year, a community message was put out at VRLA to connect women-led businesses to capital, resources, and community. Within a matter of days, hundreds of signups flooded in. And one thing was certain: there was a LOT of interest.
Our initial hypothesis was that women in immersive tech most needed funding to grow their startup. To investigate our thesis, we then surveyed the WXR community over the summer, and the results were clear: the number one need reported was access to capital, closely followed by corporate partnership opportunities and mentorship.
Over the last couple of months, we’ve built the WXR Coalition of investors, entrepreneurs, corporate leaders and industry influencers. Some incredible people have committed to prioritizing gender equity in this fledgling tech space, and now we’re ready to activate.
The WXR Venture Fund has two Community Initiatives that occur on a quarterly cycle: Pitch Showcases and a Mentorship Program, kicking off in Q1 of the new year.
Applications are now open for the inaugural WXR Fund Pitch Showcase that takes place on January 6th (hurry– submissions close on 12/6/17). Selected startups will have the opportunity to pitch their companies in front of a curated group of investors and influencers… in VR.
Selected Pitch Showcase Founders will then be enrolled in the beta launch of the WXR Fund Mentorship Program. They’ll be paired with an industry mentor for 10 weeks to help accelerate through their greatest challenges.
We have been blown away by the talent of the women we’ve met in the months since announcing WXR. They are building companies that will change the world, and now is the time for the industry to rally around them.
Together we can do this. We can lay the foundation for an industry that reflects the diversity of the populations it serves. We can build better products and create space for many perspectives.
Together we can build a new reality. Learn more at womenxr.com.