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Small Biz Insider: Venture Capitalist Diane Yoo on Empowering Diverse Founders

Published Jun 08, 2021 by Maggie Martin


Small Biz Insider

Diane Yoo is Founding Partner of Parliament Ventures, a Houston-based, global venture capital fund. Photo Courtesy of Diane Yoo.

Venture capital investment has nearly tripled in Houston over the last five years, from $284 million in 2016 to $753 million in 2020. That's a new record high for the region. The findings from the recent Houston Tech Report, produced by the Greater Houston Partnership and Houston Exponential earlier this year, underscore the tremendous growth in Houston's innovation ecosystem.

And Diane Yoo is one of the players. Yoo is Founding Partner at Parliament Ventures, a Houston-based, global venture capital fund that aims to invest in international companies as well as early stage local companies. Yoo is also co-founder of Identity Unveiled, a national media platform highlight Asian American women who are leaders and pioneers in their fields. 

In this episode of the Small Biz Insider podcast, we talk with Yoo about empowering the next generation of diverse and women founders and the benefits Houston offers to entrepreneurs as they grow their business.

Highlights of the episode are below. 

On what investors are looking for from a pitch

Yoo shared four key pieces of advice for founders pitching to investors:

  • When you reach out to the funding group or individual, make sure you have a good understanding of their history and track record. Mention why you're having this conversation with this particular investor. 
  • Have a good understanding of how your product or service is indeed unique and different from anything else on the market.
  • Don't be shy about how great your team is.
  • "We're also looking for the founder and the team to be coachable," said Yoo. 

On leveraging investors for learning opportunities

“Oftentimes, founders are [so] focused on getting funding, they forget how investors can be incredible mentors," said Yoo. "Find mentors that are investors who can provide you with incredible industry connections and experiences. And as a venture capitalist, if I turn that around, these are the advantages I’m bringing to my firm."

On what Yoo calls “entrepreneurial DNA”

As a woman and minority venture capitalist who grew up in a family of entrepreneurs, Yoo said 

Yoo said tenacity and grit make up what she refers to as "entrepreneurial DNA," and are two qualities she said her father possessed as an entrepreneur himself. 

"I saw my father come here as an immigrant and use a pocketbook dictionary [for conversations]," said Yoo. “And seeing him turn into a successful entrepreneur, achieving the American dream, I was fortunate to grow up seeing that tenacity and grit. That’s what makes up entrepreneurial DNA."

Small Biz Insider is presented by: 

 

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Learn more about the Partnership’s Small Biz Matters business resource group and get information about how your organization can become a member today

Learn about VC investment in Houston and more in the 2021 Houston Tech Report.

The Small Biz Insider podcast is part of our digital series highlighting entrepreneurs in the greater Houston region who are making a big impact in the small business community. Follow Small Biz Insider through these popular podcast players so you never miss a new episode: 

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