An Ode to Those Who Came Before

Those who met me when I got my start in venture almost 6 years ago, probably remember the bright eyed bushy tailed Sydney. Back then, I told everyone who would listen that I was intent on starting my own fund one day. I initially said that it would be within 2 years of my venture career, then 2 years became 3, 3 became 4 and eventually the itch to start something of my own dulled into a feeling that most days I could forget, if I didn’t think about it too much.

What I realize now, was that as I uncovered the complexities required to start a fund, I got scared about what wanting more for myself would cost. Scared that I couldn’t build the type of fund that I wanted to authentically, scared that I would make a mistake, scared that it was all too much for me to take on.

That changed in 2020.

The reckoning that venture underwent that year and in the years since cannot be understated. White women, Latinx people and Black people are launching a new generation of new funds, and every few months it seems, a new barrier is broken. Getting a front row seat to this radical shift has been a privilege. From the first $1B Black owned fund to the largest woman founded firm, the world is changing in front of my eyes and the “no limits” mantra is truer than ever before. Additionally, since 2015, the barrier to entry in venture has continued to fall – thanks to organizations like Carta, Angellist, Flow, Allocate, Recast, Raise, Bridge, Coolwater, Strut and others – and I am watching new entrants do things their own way. The stronghold that the old (white) boys club had on the venture ecosystem is loosening.

The movement gave me so much hope and pushed me to think critically about what I wanted in my venture career again. Once I started leading my own deals and working directly with founders who I admire, the flicker in my belly officially transitioned to a flame. I was so inspired by them! The founders who I get the privilege of working with are putting their livelihoods on the line to build new institutions that serve the communities they care the most about. Why aren’t I doing the same?

I’m so excited to reimagine what is possible for myself once more. #LFG

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Sydney Paige Thomas