Ross Darwin’s investments in edtech and entrepreneurs
By John Kregler, StartOut
Ross Darwin (he/him) grew up in Columbus, Ohio before moving to Stanford for school. Since then, he’s made the Bay Area home and the place to grow his passion for education investment. Studying economics and international relations, Ross learned about the investing world early on and worked with local school districts through Math Magic and The Peninsula College Fund.
Today, Ross is a Principal at Owl Ventures, the largest venture capital firm in the world focused on education technology with over $2 billion in assets under management. Owl Ventures invests directly in tech companies that impact PreK-12, higher education and future of work institutions. For Ross, getting involved was the easiest decision.
“Part of the reason I got into VC in the first place was because I enjoyed helping founders. The best part of the job is getting to work with people who have an idea that they’re especially passionate about. And when their passion involves helping other people, it’s even better.”
Since joining Owl Ventures in 2019, Ross has invested in countless startups including traditional edtech companies like Kiddom, Ubits, and Fiveable and fintech companies such as Stash, Greenlight, and Welcome Tech and healthtech companies like Hazel Health, Woebot, and Thrive Global.
All along the way, Ross’ first goal was to help people.
After attending a StartOut event, he saw a great opportunity to network and meet others through the organization. Early on, he realized how different the founder world is from the investor world and wanted to help bridge the gap. As a StartOut mentor, Ross helps introduce founders to his network and build key relationships within the VC ecosystem.
“I feel really privileged to be in the position that I’m in and I know I’ve been super lucky in many places in life. I try to help not only LGBTQ+ people, but also BIPOC and minority founders. Connecting more people in these spaces will always be important to me. It’s hard enough to be a founder without having to worry about the complexities of bias and underrepresentation. Everyone deserves a seat at the table.”
Most recently, Ross mentored two StartOut Growth Lab alumni companies — Avocademy and Thimble.io. With both startups founded by LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs and serving the education sector, he knew he could align with their problems and goals.
“One of the greatest things about the LGBTQ+ family is that we have a connection unlike any other. Creating bonds can be challenging, but being able to let your guards down and feel comfortable with those in your community definitely helps. I love what StartOut is doing to connect more people. Now that the VC and startup communities have moved beyond the Bay Area alone, they’re helping a growing world still feel within reach.”
Interested in getting help from a StartOut mentor? Join our community at www.startout.org/community and apply to be paired today.
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