If An Entrepreneur Has Children, Does It Impact Funding Decisions?

Question: What is your take on entrepreneurs who have young children or otherwise active family lives?  Is this a factor in funding decisions?  I try to live with a family-first mentality but find it hard to compete with young unattached entrepreneurs who can put startup-first.

My answer is simple – this shouldn’t be a factor in funding decisions.

Unfortunately, I know plenty of investors who have lots of inappropriate (at least in my book) biases. This is one of them. There are also plenty of gender, race, and age biases out there. There are endless discussions in the blogosphere about this so I won’t add to the discussion other than to express my opinion, which is that these biases suck.

I’ve worked with many entrepreneurs covering a huge age range, gender dynamic, ethnic mix, and family size. Success comes in many forms, with many styles, and many different dynamics. While each person is constrained by having multiple priorities, balancing conflicting priorities is an essential skill of any entrepreneur. Being able to shift between commitments is vital over the course of an entrepreneurial life span.

As an entrepreneur, you’ll just have to work through it. And search for investors who don’t have these biases – fortunately they exist!

  • I’d go even further. I’d tell all potential investors that you have kids. That way you weed out the sucky ones who are biased against founders with kids.

    I am Spartacus!

  • Anonymous

    It’s funny – this is the converse of my bias to only take money from VCs who are actual human beings.

  • Steve Marshall

    Great answer – succinct and to the point. For those inappropriately biased VC’s: What happens when the single entrepreneur you funded settles down and starts a family? Does that change your commitment? 
    I would argue that, in many cases, an entrepreneur who is a family person may be more committed to making the business venture into a success than someone who has less on the line. The entrepreneur who is also a dad/mom and has support for keeping the home functioning might be a better investment than the young, carefree 20-something with a busy social calendar. It’s the level of commitment that matters. I might be biased though.

  • Anonymous

    You need to ask the individual key questions and see how they react.

    I’m married, have 3 kids but also have the 100% backing of my wife. So if I need to work (and often do) 80+ hours a week and seven day weeks, its ok, because she know’s what I’m trying to do.

    Anyone with a family trying to succeed in business has to have the 100% backing of his family or his business (or personal life) will fail.

  • Count yourself as

    a) Lucky, 
    b) Someone with values,
    c) Greater motivation than a loner
    d) Someone with not only a right to a private life – but someone with an emotional support mechanism
    e) If any VC fails to recognize the above – recognize them for what they are – losers – and take your opportunity elsewhere.