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Startup Funding: It Helps If You're An Attractive Man

Written by Ken Gaebler
Published: 3/27/2014

The latest research shows that startup entrepreneurs who are handsome males are more likely to secure VC funding than females or less attractive men.

There are a lot of variables that go into securing funding for a startup business. A rock solid business plan, industry experience, an innovative product or service--it all counts when it comes to improving the likelihood of a fully funded startup.

Attractive Man Raising Money

But while it would seem that the physical appearance of the startup entrepreneur should have little bearing on the outcome of funding decisions, a new study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has shown that attractive male entrepreneurs have a significant edge in today's startup funding scene.

Using real pitches from actual startups, the study compared results by presenting venture capitalists (of both genders) with various combinations of photos and voices. The outcome? Investors chose pitches that were presented by males 68 percent of the time.

"We found that individuals, both male and female, respond much more positively to pitches with male voices than a pitch with a female voice," Fiona Murray, a researcher at MIT, told NPR. "There's a quite strong gender gap in how people find these pitches convincing."

The study also showed that investors have a preference for male voices that were attached to photos of attractive men. Surprisingly, the lowest performing demographic was attractive women. "There's a very positive attractive-man effect," added Murray. "People are most likely to find a pitch with a male voice with an image of an attractive man more appealing, more investable than a pitch by a less attractive man or woman. And the group that fares most poorly are actually the attractive women."

But despite the study results, it's important for startup entrepreneurs to understand that the process for obtaining funding from a venture capitalist still primarily depends on due diligence and the strength of the funding proposal. Regardless of the demographic biases that may exist, the best way to secure funding for a startup is to invest time and energy in creating a sound proposal and funding pitch.

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