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Striving for inclusive investment

Chloe Meineck, award-winning designer of Memory Music Box, calls out the all boys club that still permeates venture capital, calls for diverse models of funding to reflect real inclusion, and shares what keeps her motivated.

Striving for inclusive investment May 20, 2019Leave a comment

Just over a year ago I wrote this blog post: “I assume that man in your slide deck is your husband”.

It was a short, honest piece about my experiences with pitching for investment. I wrote it quickly – and in anger – but it had a large impact: 2.5k people read it and lots of women reached out to me with their own pitching experiences.

I also had a lot of negative feedback from women in business, saying I shouldn’t be highlighting these stories. That rather than writing about it I should figure out a way to get over these obstacles.

A year later I still believe it was an important piece to write, and I am still hearing stories from women. Their responses show that a whole network of women support my work, and care about the issues women in business face.

A Forbes article shows how the UK VC (venture capital) industry is still an old boys club when it says: “The outcome of all these stats is that for every £1 of venture capital investment in the U.K., just 1p ends up with all-female founder teams and 10p with mixed-gender teams. A shocking 89p goes to all-male founding teams.” All of which backs up the reality that more needs to be done.

Since writing the article, I was one of 50 rare minds on Rare LDN, supported by Google, Berlin School for Creative Leadership and D&AD. Over an amazing few days I heard talks from inspiring people keen to get more diversity into the design industry.

Everyone that attended was a ‘minority’ in some way: people of colour, women, LGBTQ+ . I heard first-hand from greats like Pip Jamieson, Tea Uglow, Sulaiman Khan and Toluwani Farinto.

Now I am on a Women in Social Tech accelerator in London. It’s really exciting to be in a cohort of 20 women creating social-minded tech. It’s headed up by Nwes, and Deutsche Bank are partners on the programme of support.

To me, it seems to be that although there are VCs especially for women, and women in tech to increase the diversity of people creating business, they are unaware that this increase in diversity will also help diversify the types of businesses that are created.

People with different lived experiences will have different priorities, and therefore will create different businesses, which means diverse models of finance have to be created.

Over the years, the biggest challenge for founders is staying resilient after facing multiple rejections. In my case, it’s when trying to fund and develop work in the area of social care, mental health and quality of life.

While the need is evident all around us, with the product shown to benefit and alleviate the pressure on carers, with strong product demand – the cost of setting up for manufacture and scaling the product is huge. Once again, it’s a women’s issue as two-thirds of those affected by dementia are female, with the care largely falling to women. If investors are still full of male panels, is it any wonder this area is not being invested in?

The market and need aren’t small though. Globally, there are 47.6 million people living with dementia. I recently saw a campaign #ENDALZ where every 65 seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in the US, with a staggering 5.8 million people living with the disease.

People who have already used our Music Memory Box have said “There’s days where I come and visit, and you can’t get no response from her… But when the box is there, and you put it on – it gives us her – you have her back for a bit.” Daughter

“Now I’ve seen the box – and I’m like WOW – even for me – I’m a very visual person and just seeing her – if that box can do that for my Nan even for a matter of seconds – for me I would tell everyone to get one.” Granddaughter

“There are lots of things on the market today that aren’t easily accessible and not easy for people to learn how to use. So, I think because of its simplicity I would definitely recommend other care homes to look at them.” Lesley Hobbs, Manager of Deerhurst Care Home

Since writing the post, I’ve secured a social investment loan and some initial investment, and I launched a Kickstarter Campaign back in March to create awareness around music and dementia, and for families and care homes to pre-order the Music Memory Box. After 30 days we managed to raise a total of £27,174 from 236 individual backers from across the UK, US, Europe, Canada and Australia to put Music Memory Box into production.

What keeps me going are great role models who inspire me. It’s important to focus on how far you’ve come and start visualising what kind of future you would like. My plan now is to make the first batch of Music Memory Boxes, attain more investment to scale the business and team and to start researching our third product to launch in the mental health and depression space.

musicmemorybox.com

About the Author


Chloe Meineck is the founder of Studio Meineck design agency which makes designs for the most important mental health and wellbeing issues society faces. Meineck created the first Music Memory Box for a family member. Since then she has been working with hundreds of people living with dementia, has spoken about her work across the world and has won many awards for design and innovation. Named in 2018 as one of 10 Global Creative Trailblazers by Tea Uglow Creative Director for Google Labs in Sydney. In 2018, Music Memory Box was named a Top Idea in OpenIDEO’s Global Dementia Caregiving Challenge.

Follow Chloe and her work on Twitter – @ChloeMeineck @MusicMemBox

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