Skip to Content

Y Combinator’s Cofounder Talks about the Challenges of Being a Female Entrepreneur

Jessica Livingston has worked to encourage more female-led startups to join the incubator’s ranks, but she says it’s still tough for women to get funding.
April 5, 2016

Jessica Livingston, cofounder of the venerated startup incubator Y Combinator, gave an interesting interview this week on some of the problems female founders continue to face in the tech world and how this is changing.

Speaking with Fortune, Livingston said that the biggest issue female founders are encountering is fund-raising, as most venture capital investors continue to be men (in another recent piece, Fortune reported that women make up less than 6 percent of people making investment decisions at venture firms in the U.S.). Lots of female founders say they’re being ignored while investors pay attention to their male cofounders, she said. Perhaps this is starting to change a bit, though, because as she also pointed out, in Y Combinator’s last two classes, startups with female founders had the two biggest Series A funding rounds.

Livingston said that 25 percent of Y Combinator’s most recent class of startups had one or more female founders on their teams (up from 4 percent in 2011); her goal, not surprisingly, is to increase this figure to 50 percent. One way she’s working on this is by holding the Female Founders Conference, which began in 2014 and gives advice to women interested in starting their own tech companies.

As for specific women she’s rooting for, Livingston mentioned Tracy Young, the CEO and a cofounder of a startup called PlanGrid, which makes cloud-based software for viewing construction plans, saying that company has the biggest valuation of any Y Combinator graduating company that is headed up by a woman.

(Read more: Fortune, “Female Coders Are ‘More Competent’ Than Males, According to a New Study”)

Keep Reading

Most Popular

A view of clouds illuminated by sunlight
A view of clouds illuminated by sunlight

We can’t afford to stop solar geoengineering research

It is the wrong time to take this strategy for combating climate change off the table.

conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned
conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned

A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click

Deepfake researchers have long feared the day this would arrive.

Death and Jeff Bezos
Death and Jeff Bezos

Meet Altos Labs, Silicon Valley’s latest wild bet on living forever

Funders of a deep-pocketed new "rejuvenation" startup are said to include Jeff Bezos and Yuri Milner.

ai learning to multitask concept
ai learning to multitask concept

Meta’s new learning algorithm can teach AI to multi-task

The single technique for teaching neural networks multiple skills is a step towards general-purpose AI.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.