SaaSBoomi, the world’s largest pay-it-forward SaaS community, today launches a new initiative to specifically address the problem of minority sections of founders feeling isolated and excluded. PULSE (Promoting Unity, Leadership, and a Stronger Ecosystem through diversity, equity, and inclusion) is a structured program to bring underrepresented founders into the fold, involve them in activities, and help them succeed.
The problem we want to solve
The tech industry, including the SaaS startup ecosystem, is notoriously poor when it comes to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Women, people of color, individuals with disabilities, and people from the *LGBTQIA+ communities continue to be underrepresented, particularly in leadership and technical roles. This problem is manifested in the following observations:
- Very low % of women founders in the SaaS industry despite the growing number of women in SaaS companies.
- Capital investment in women-led SaaS companies is just a fraction of that in male-led ones. A report by PitchBook and All Raise, which analyzed venture capital funding in the US from 2009 to 2018, found that female-founded companies received only 2.2% of the total capital invested during that time period. Another study by McKinsey and Company found that women-led companies received only 2.3% of total venture capital investment in the US in 2020.
- SaaS communities in India are largely represented by men. Women founders are invisible in the system, not represented, seen or even known in most cases. Access to networks, systems, and resources are limited for them as a result.
- There is an urgent need to create growth paths for women in the SaaS industry to create a pipeline of women founders of tomorrow.
What is the PULSE initiative?
We want to work on changing this environment. That’s why we are kicking off Pulse: As you are – a deliberate effort to create an inclusive ecosystem where all members feel respected, valued, and empowered to grow and thrive. We are inspired by the words, “As You Are”, referring to individuals in the SaaS community who may not have the same equitable access to opportunities as others.
We are beginning our work on this initiative with women in SaaS. A group of volunteers – founders and leaders from the SaaS world – will lead PULSE.
This is a huge mission. But it’s a problem we are committed to solving together as a community.
SaaSBoomi commits to helping our members connect, learn and grow in an environment that is supportive of DEI. This, in turn, will enable more founders to build and lead workplaces that embrace DEI in their policies.
We believe it will result in a more innovative, competitive, and inclusive tech startup ecosystem.
Why is DEI important for the SaaS community?
The future of SaaS startups is Diverse and Inclusive. In our changing world, organizations embracing diversity and advancing inclusion will be the most successful in building an equitable workplace.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are three closely linked values held by many organizations that are working to be supportive of different groups of individuals, including people of different races, ethnicities, religions, abilities, genders, and sexual orientations.
Companies that are diverse, equitable, and inclusive are better able to respond to challenges, win top talent, and meet the needs of different customer bases. With DEI in mind, companies are considering how to better support employees. Over the past few years, many organizations have taken strides to build diversity, equity, and inclusion into their policies and hiring practices, according to a McKinsey report.
How it aligns with the SaaSBoomi mission
There are less than 200 women among SaaS founders in India, despite having thousands of SaaS startups in the country. As a group invested heavily in changing the status quo, we have compiled a list of about 160 women founders. And while we’re excited that the number has been growing every year, it’s still a small fraction of the total number of SaaS founders in India.
At the SaaSBoomi annual conference in Chennai in March, we observed that women are founding companies that solve important problems, at scale. We are beginning to see what success looks like among women founders:
- We had with us a woman founder who got an exit this year
- A second-time woman founder
- A woman founder running a bootstrapped startup that scaled over the $5 million ARR mark …
Through Pulse, we would like to gather more stories of struggle and success among women founders. They not only serve as role models but also give us pointers to create the relevant structures and allocate the right resources to enable growth for the long-term.
Women in SaaS – founders, leaders, and others working in SaaS companies – are eager to learn from peers, scale, and thrive. They need workshops, mentors, and support systems to do that. They want to meet more of their kind. These activities would be the starting point of Pulse.
This aligns directly with the mission of SaaSBoomi to be an ecosystem builder committed to the rise of India SaaS.
What are the next steps?
We want to lay the foundation for more women to start SaaS companies and succeed. But this movement, which begins with women, also allows us to open the wider conversation related to the challenges faced by our members from the LGBTQIA+ community. Together, we would like to meet them as they are, welcome more participation in SaaSBoomi, and drive real change in the ecosystem.
We have created a team to lead the drive towards the goals and vision laid out in the Pulse manifesto.
The Pulse Manifesto
- We want an end to the isolation of minorities within the SaaS startup ecosystem.
- We will enable women and other gender minorities to come together and foster an inclusive community that supports growth and development for all.
- We are starting the ‘SaaSBoomi PULSE: As you are’ movement by working with women founders and leaders in SaaS. We believe that by coming together, underrepresented stakeholders in SaaS startups can create a community of founders who support one another and drive real change in the industry.
- We want to ensure that women and other underrepresented minorities have the support and resources they need to succeed.
- We want to get them access to learning and development opportunities, including roundtables, mentorship programs, and workshops. These will cater to all stages of their startup journey.
- We will strive for increased visibility and representation of women and LGBTQIA+ in SaaS startups. This includes documenting progress through surveys and metrics, creating a database of successful underrepresented founders in the industry, and providing Diversity & Inclusion certification.
- We will encourage evangelism and marketing efforts to raise awareness of the contributions of women and underrepresented minorities in SaaS.
- We recognize that progress must be made slowly and deliberately, iterating on different ideas rather than rushing towards a few intense efforts.
Here’s how you can help
- If you are a SaaS founder (gender/race/other differences no bar), join our community of founders: Join the community.
- If you are not a founder, but a woman working in the SaaS industry (or belong to any other underrepresented groups), join us here.
- If you are a male founder and believe in the importance of a diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplace, join us as an ALLY here.
- If you know any women/LGBTQIA+ founder/leader in SaaS, refer them here.
Meet the team
Ashwini Asokan, Disha Bhatia, Kabandi Saikia, Sameera Vanekar, Amrutha Jalihal, Swetha Kannan, Sumithra Gopalakrishnan, Yamini Jain, Sadhana Balaji, & Malavika Velayanikal