10 Investors Committed To Funding Female Founders, Part 2

At this point, it has become almost common news to hear about the appalling transgressions happening behind the closed doors of the venture capital world, and the question on many people's mind is, "Who will we find out about next?" For many female entrepreneurs, especially the ones who are fundraising, it is difficult to block out the increasingly uncomfortable feelings of mistrust in the midst of heightened awareness. Reactions from the venture community have been scattered at best, ranging from subpar decency pledges to impromptu "sexual harassment workshops" and it remains to be seen whether the stats will actually shift over the next few years.

Yet for every negative piece of news, let's not forget the positive. In part two of this ongoing series, I highlight the investors committed to changing the ratio and investing in incredible founders, no matter their gender or race. These are the investors who have been proactive in leading the charge, putting money where their mouths are and setting an example for the rest of the industry. (See the investors in part one Here)

Jocelyn Goldfein, Managing Director, Zetta Venture Partners 

"Zetta's investing team is 50% female (two out of four investors) and women founders have told us they find us more approachable than all-male firms. We view that as a competitive advantage.

Tangible steps we've taken:

  • We measure and review the diversity of the founders we are meeting and the decisions we are making.
  • We are founding members of parity.org, aiming to drive equal representation at the board and executive leadership level.
  • Our term sheets require startups who partner with us to adopt a code of conduct and commit to an inclusive environment for employees.
  • We strive for balanced representation in all events that we host, and our AI dinner series has ranged from 35%-60% luminary female guests through 12 dinners."

Kara Nortman, Partner, Upfront Ventures 

"About a quarter of our deals have a female founder. We've invested in internal diversity, inclusion and sexual harassment training. We've hosted regular community events around the topic of gender diversity in technology, including at our annual tech Summit, as well as women in technology events to strengthen the LA network of female entrepreneurs and operators."

Jenny Abramson, Founder and Managing Partner, Rethink Impact

"In a world in which less than 6% of VC decision makers are women, we’re proud to run a fund that has a majority of its operating partners, 50% of its investors, and 100% of portfolio company leadership made up of women. Given that we’re the largest US-based impact fund with a gender lens, we’re moving mainstream capital into growth stage businesses (Series A & B rounds, primarily) and launched monthly office hours last July in NYC, SF, & DC to support this ecosystem."

Nicole Quinn, Partner, Lightspeed Venture Partners

"One third of Lightspeed's consumer investments are in female founders and we are committed to increasing this further. The best part of this is that between Stitch Fix, Honest Company and Zola, these are some of our best performing companies. 80% of the companies that I have supported and invested in while at Lightspeed are female-led and I am excited about the growth of these businesses.

Lightspeed has strong PR, marketing, hiring and operations teams, who are always looking for top women to hire into our companies or back. Our team puts on events such as our Lightspeed Leading Lights and Stanford women engineering events for strong women to meet each other, and for us to meet and invest in and for companies to find ways to work together."

Aaron Jacobson, Partner, New Enterprise Associates (NEA) 

"NEA firmly believes that gender diversity is conducive to a better industry and better outcomes, and we actively seek and support opportunities to engage, encourage and inspire female founders and investors. Our portfolio includes 80+ women CEOs and co-founders—high for our industry, but not reflective of the diversity we’d like to see. We are working on new reporting to evaluate our progress over time against certain metrics (e.g. deal flow, investments by $, # and %, investor ratio, etc.) and to gauge the success of initiatives and partnerships currently underway. These initiatives include partnerships with Parity Partners, theBoardlist, and the Salk Women & Science program, among others."

Elizabeth R. Whitman, Investment Partner, XFactor Ventures

"XFactor Ventures was founded specifically to support female entrepreneurs. Our fund is focused on making pre-seed and seed stage investments in companies with billion dollar market opportunities that have at least one female founder. Our fund’s investment partners are all female founders themselves who have collectively founded 14 companies, raised over $150M in venture capital, and hired thousands of employees. We’ve been in the shoes of every female founder we meet with and we are all committed to not only providing needed capital as they launch their companies, but connections and advice as they scale their companies."

Shripriya Mahesh, Partner, Omidyar Network

"Four of the five members of our investment team are females, so we are deeply committed to authentically supporting female founders and funding them. We are currently working with organizations such as SheWorx, WomenStartupLab, The Expat Women and other female founder communities to gain access to and increase the pipeline of women who pitch to us. We have participated in monthly pitch competitions such as "Female Founders pitching Female Funders". We have spoken at female founders events including the recent Female Founders Summit at Google Launchpad. We have hosted regular female founders dinners and networking events. From these events, we meet many first time female founders who we will continue to advise through 1:1 coffee meetings and mentor office hours."

Lori Cashman, Tricia Black, Suzanne Norris, Partners, Victress Capital

"We only back early stage companies with at least one female founder so our entire portfolio of 15 companies is comprised of female founders. We have deployed close to $2MM in less than 18 months. We pride ourselves on walking the walk and our track record is proving out that our model works. Beyond the investments that we make, we try to assist every founder we encounter with at least one additional connection to help them advance their efforts."

Howie Diamond, Managing Director, Ranch Ventures

"50% of my portfolio is female led and that was unintentional, meaning it was not written in as part of my initial investment thesis. I believe that's a testament to the evolving landscape of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and the truth being revealed that women are as effective, if not more effective leaders than men, plus have the risk tolerance, confidence and courage necessary to succeed. My fund also hosts informal female founder dinners to create a setting to talk about Fempreneur journeys via connections and sharing of experience."

Barbara Boxer, Managing Director, BELLE Capital USA

"All of our investments are with female founders (nine companies). We hold semiannual LP meeting where we educate our LPs on basics so they can use the templates, concepts to look at any investment - be it early stage, real estate etc. Our LA LPs have quarterly dinners with various topics, recently one on the pros and cons of crowdfunding, with the goal of empowering more women as partners who will be able to bring quality women businesses to invest in."

Are you an investor who is committed to supporting female entrepreneurs and closing the funding gap? Let us know how you're creating change.

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