The Fe­male Founder’s Fund­ing Guide

Inc. (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - —KIM­BERLY WEISUL

Found­ing teams that include men and women pro­duce dra­mat­i­cally stronger val­u­a­tion growth than all-male found­ing teams, ac­cord­ing to re­search from First Round Cap­i­tal. But star­tups with gen­der-di­verse teams win just 18 per­cent of the ven­ture cap­i­tal pie. The fol­low­ing funds are try­ing to change that. All have a stated man­date to in­vest in fe­male founders. At present, there are fewer than 100 such funds in the United States; in ag­gre­gate, they likely have less than a bil­lion dol­lars to in­vest. But given that women CEOs get only 2.7 per­cent of the ap­prox­i­mately $80 bil­lion in ven­ture cap­i­tal each year—or about $2 bil­lion—that could be enough to be­gin to make a dif­fer­ence. These nine funds should be on ev­ery fe­male founder’s radar, but stay tuned for the de­but of our com­plete list of fe­male-fo­cused funds on inc.com.

Back­stage Cap­i­tal WEST HOL­LY­WOOD, CALIF.

In May, when Back­stage Cap­i­tal founder Ar­lan Hamil­ton an­nounced the for­ma­tion of a $36 mil­lion fund to in­vest in black women, she was sur­prised at the re­ac­tion. “They’re call­ing it a di­ver­sity fund,” she tweeted. “I’m call­ing it an IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME fund.” That new fund is her sec­ond; her first is in­vest­ing $5 mil­lion. Hamil­ton has now in­vested $4 mil­lion of that in 100 en­trepreneurs who are women, people of color, and/or mem­bers of the LGBTQ com­mu­nity—in­clud­ing the founders of Tin­sel, BeVis­i­ble, Blendoor, and Uncharted Power.

BBG Ven­tures NEW YORK CITY

BBG (“Built by Girls”) be­gan in 2014 as a $10 mil­lion fund started by AOL to in­vest in con­sumer in­ter­net and mo­bile star­tups that have at least one fe­male founder. Helmed by former Martha Ste­wart Liv­ing Om­n­i­me­dia CEO Su­san Lyne, it’s still fol­low­ing that mis­sion, but now AOL is part of Oath. BBG’s check sizes are gen­er­ally $100,000 to $250,000, and it does not take board seats at the busi­nesses it in­vests in. So far, BBG’s port­fo­lio com­pa­nies include Glam­squad, goTenna, and HopSkipDrive.

Belle Cap­i­tal USA DETROIT

Belle Cap­i­tal is the suc­ces­sor to Phenomenelle An­gels, both of which were started by Lau­ren Flana­gan. All of Belle’s lim­ited part­ners are women. The fund fo­cuses on Michi­gan and other ar­eas that don’t at­tract a lot of ven­ture cap­i­tal. Check sizes range from $100,000 to $1.5 mil­lion. The fund prefers com­pa­nies with $1 mil­lion or more in rev­enue. It’s in­vested in Vi­tal Vio, Digsite, and NopSec, among oth­ers.

Fe­male Founders Fund NEW YORK CITY

En­tre­pre­neur Anu Dug­gal cre­ated Fe­male Founders Fund in 2014 to make early-stage in­vest­ments in women-led com­pa­nies. Her first fund was about $6 mil­lion, and took stakes in around 30 com­pa­nies. This year, Fe­male Founders raised a sec­ond fund, for $27 mil­lion, with in­vestors in­clud­ing Melinda Gates, Stitch Fix founder Ka­t­rina Lake, and Rent the Run­way co-founder Jenny Fleiss. The fund’s in­vest­ments include Zola, Maven Clinic, and Tala. Fe­male Founders Fund also tracks the ven­ture in­vest­ments that are go­ing to women-led com­pa­nies across the U.S.—the num­bers are eye-open­ing and sur­pris­ingly small.

Golden Seeds NEW YORK CITY, AT­LANTA, BOS­TON, HOUS­TON, DAL­LAS, SIL­I­CON VAL­LEY

Golden Seeds was one of the first an­gel groups to in­vest ex­clu­sively in women-led com­pa­nies. It’s now one of the big­gest and best-known, with head­quar­ters in New York City and chap­ters in five other lo­ca­tions. Golden Seeds also runs three ven­ture funds and has in­vested more than $100 mil­lion since 2005. Its port­fo­lio com­pa­nies include Poshly, Tot Squad, and Cog­ni­tion Ther­a­peu­tics.

In­tel Cap­i­tal Di­ver­sity Fund SANTA CLARA, CALIF.

At $125 mil­lion, In­tel’s is the largest di­ver­sity fund, and has been since it launched in 2015. The fund in­vests broadly in what it calls “un­der­rep­re­sented tech en­trepreneurs”—women, mi­nori­ties, people with dis­abil­i­ties, LGBTQ en­trepreneurs, and vet­er­ans. The fund’s in­vest­ments include Brit + Co, Ve­nafi, and Vid­code.

New Voices Fund AMITYVILLE, N.Y.

When Riche­lieu Den­nis sold his Sun­dial Brands to Unilever late last year, the deal came with an un­usual stip­u­la­tion: Unilever and Sun­dial would set up a ven­ture fund to in­vest in en­trepreneurs who are women of color. On July 9, Den­nis of­fi­cially launched the $100 mil­lion New Voices Fund. The fund will in­vest from seed stage to Se­ries C, and con­cen­trate on con­sumer, tech­nol­ogy, and me­dia/en­ter­tain­ment com­pa­nies. New Voices, which is struc­tured as a B Corp, has in­vested in Beauty Bak­erie, Beautycon Me­dia, En­vested, and McBride Sis­ters Wines.

Port­fo­lia MENLO PARK, CALIF.

By us­ing a unique cap­i­tal struc­ture for her funds—each fund has a max­i­mum of 249 in­vestors and $10 mil­lion to in­vest— Port­fo­lia founder Tr­ish Costello is fo­cus­ing on turn­ing more high-net-worth women into seed in­vestors. So far, Port­fo­lia has funds in cat­e­gories such as ac­tive ag­ing and femtech, with a to­tal of $6 mil­lion un­der man­age­ment. In­vest­ments include Joy­lux, Unal­iWear, and Ren­ovoRx.

Re­think Im­pact WASH­ING­TON, D.C., NEW YORK CITY, SAN FRAN­CISCO

Led by Jenny Abram­son and launched in 2017, Re­think Im­pact is one of the newer funds to in­vest solely in women. But with $112 mil­lion in its cof­fers, it also may be the largest. (In­tel Cap­i­tal’s Di­ver­sity Fund also in­vests in people of color and other un­der­rep­re­sented groups.) The fund’s in­vestors include Sheila John­son, co-founder of Black En­ter­tain­ment Tele­vi­sion, and Sachiko Kuno, who has co-founded two drug com­pa­nies. Abram­son and her col­leagues are look­ing for women-led tech com­pa­nies that also in­tend to have a sig­nif­i­cant and pos­i­tive so­cial im­pact. Re­think typ­i­cally makes an in­vest­ment at the Se­ries A stage. Its port­fo­lio com­pa­nies include Seedling, Neu­ro­track, and Werk.

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