Leveling the Playing Field for Founders

3 min readAug 23, 2021


It’s unintentional, but we end up providing asymmetric value to founders that don’t benefit from the same advantages that other founders might. Be it due to location, race, gender, age, social class, income bracket or something else, every founder has a unique circumstance. That shouldn’t change who they can access, but in reality, it does. We deliver the same high value, personalized experience to every user on our platform, regardless of those factors. And here’s the reason why that creates asymmetric rewards.

Hypothetically, someone who just graduated from Stanford GSB and is building a robotics startup in the Bay Area, is clearly not going to face the same challenges in receiving mentorship, funding or access that an equally motivated, University of Wisconsin graduate building the same company in Madison will face, all else being equal. That’s for several reasons. Madison only has a fraction of the venture capital eyeballs (and wallets) that San Francisco does. Madison also has a much smaller entrepreneurial community than the Bay Area does. Keep in mind, we’re not even taking into consideration other factors that can further perpetuate these challenges — being a minority-founder, being a woman founder, being in a lower income-bracket. When you compound these factors, it can mean the difference between making it, and, well, not.

By providing both individuals with warm introductions to the same elite set of curated mentors for them and their business — in this case, U.S.-based, robotics/deep tech-focused investors — the Wisconsin grad will naturally get more value out of that interaction, because it would probably be quite different from the interactions he’s already had with existing people in his network (not to say that this relationship-driven network doesn’t have it’s own value). However, it’s likely that the GSB-grad would already have interacted with peers of this same expert, or at least have the ability to do so. Hence, while the mentor may provide the same high quality advice to both entrepreneurs, it would mean a lot more to the Wisconsin-grad. It would help that entrepreneur build and grow far more effectively.

On NeonVest, everyone gets a unique, personalized experience. We curate the set of mentors for founders based on several data points, including stage, sector, location, but also other variables — is the startup a university spinout? Is the mentor a Board Member of a similar company? Where does the founder need the most help? What’s the mentor’s rating? Most importantly, we don’t use demographic or personal data to discriminate between the access that one founder gets versus another. In many ways, this helps to level the playing field. We connect founders to the experts they should know, plain and simple. We don’t mind where they come from. We just want to influence where they go.

Statistically, the brightest minds are scattered across the world. They don’t all come from the same ten cities. Some of these individuals end up building companies. Why not make their journey easier by connecting them with experts in their space? Why not enable them, and let the world know what they’re building? It’s not just a great opportunity. It’s the right thing to do.