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Darya Henig Shaked is an Israeli, Silicon Valley based, Managing Partner at WeAct Ventures. She founded WeAct Ventures in 2018 as a boutique LP entity to invest in the best Venture Capital firms who are led by the top women in the investment industry, in order to achieve superior returns while increasing AUM (assets under management) and the overall presence of women in innovation as a whole, from the top down.
In 2016, with a mission to advance women entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, Darya founded WEAct, an international community of 3,000 entrepreneurs worldwide. From over 1,000 applicants, Darya has selected and supported 40 Israeli female-founded startups, including Realface, which was acquired by Apple in 2017. In 2018 she inaugurated the first shared office space for women entrepreneurs in the Bay Area in downtown Los Altos.
Darya previously served as COO at Vital Capital Fund, a $350M private equity fund investing in Sub-Saharan Africa. She has extensive experience in public-private partnerships. Earlier in her career, she was recruited by Israel’s then Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, where she served on his communications team and was Chief of Staff at the Israel’s Ministry of Housing & Construction. Darya also served as an officer in the Israeli Defense Forces and spent additional 2 years in related activities under the Prime Minister's office.
Ms. Shaked holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from Bar Ilan University and completed her legal internship at the Central District Attorney’s Office. She had also completed executive programs at both Singularity University and the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Darya was named One of the Most Influential Israelis in Silicon Valley in 2017, based on her contributions as an investor and entrepreneur, and in 2018 she was featured among the top 100 female venture capitalists in the book Women Who Venture by Renata George.
In today’s conversation with us, Darya explains her motivation and process; how she discovered the diversity and inclusion gap in the investment world, and how she now creates opportunities for women entrepreneurs to raise needed capital while offering higher returns for investors.
- Silicon Valley is the most supportive place for entrepreneurs and yet you see mostly male entrepreneurs.
- 99% of people who control the decision-making are the same group of people. They decide what is innovative, what challenges they want to solve, and who is a potential good founder.
- People like to invest in and hire their reflection in the mirror – people that look the same as them.
- More than 50% of venture capital firms lose money. So if you invest in a venture capital firm it is very likely that you will lose your money. Not to mention that you won’t likely get the 3x or 5x returns often promised to investors.
- The big VC’s can choose the investors that they want and do not have to disclose their returns.
- If the people making the decisions all come from the same background, academic institution, and life experiences, the odds of them spotting the next opportunity is very low.
- If I want to motivate a VC to become more inclusive, to hire more women and give them the power to make decisions, I have to say that when I invest, and most LP’s do not.
- Diversity boosts returns.
- Women waste less, spend more wisely, and return almost twice on the dollar for their investors than their male counterparts.
- In order to enroll people in your movement, find out what all the parties need and see if there are synergies.
- To start and grow a movement you have to find something you really believe in and are passionate about.
- You have to be very flexible in how you portray the message, and how you keep going, even when you get a lot of no’s.
- We are going in the right direction in terms of diversity and inclusion, but the question is, how fast can we get there?
Connect With Darya Henig Shaked