In a Banner Year for VC, Women Still Struggling to Get Funding
In his early meetings, Colacurcio said he was judged on the defensiveness of his start, rather than his future vision. In 2018, Harvard researchers observed a similar phenomenon: Investors set out to ask men about the potential wins of their startup, and women about their possible losses. As a result, the researchers concluded, startups with male founders increased five times higher than those with female founders.
Eventually, Colacurcio met Fern Mandelbaum of Emerson Collective, the investment firm founded by Laurene Powell Jobs. Mandelbaum, who has a track record of investing in women, gave Syndio the first deal. After that, Colacurcio said things improved: “When you’re on the network, everything becomes much easier.” Today, the startup has raised $ 83 million in total.
Since much of the early fundraising is about breaking down networks, many promoters have focused on solving the female founder problem by creating more female VCs. In the All Raise count, 65 percent of VC firms do not have a single female investor in their ranks. For that reason, the organization has made it a goal to increase the number of VC women who can write checks. In 2018, 9 percent of such VCs will be women. Today, it is nearly 14 percent.
Some VC women are committed to investing specifically in female founders. The Women Founders Fund, backed by Melinda French Gates, closed a $ 57 million round in July, becoming the largest seed fund specifically for women founders. Anu Duggal, the founding partner of the Female Founders Fund, says it is designed to support women who raise their first round, if the possibility of founder bias shows. “We all know if you don’t get it, it’s very difficult to build a billion-dollar business,” he said. The portfolio features startups such as Rent the Runway, Maven, and Billie, all of which continue to see a lot of appreciation. Duggal believes her female-focused thesis “will prove to have just as good returns, if not even better returns.”
Some women founders are trying the idea of being part of a “women only” program. “As a woman, I want to distance investors who invest based on gender portfolio goals. I want people to know that I belong,” said Jean Yang, the founder of Akita Software. , which raised a $ 4 million seed crop in 2018, believes many women are good at raising funds-but others have lost interest in the statistics, or the idea that their genitals are a defect. “If your coach told you you were going to lose, what was the reason for playing?”
“Raising funds isn’t always easy, but I don’t make it gender-driven,” says Meirav Oren, cofounder of Versatile, a startup that uses machine learning and AI in construction. He believes that all sorts of biases can be affected when an investor clicks on a builder, but that the very best startup can find a way. Fundraising knows how to answer difficult questions, Oren said, especially the “protective” type of question that women are more likely to get from investors. “That’s very instructive.”
If that’s the case, then the gender gap in VC funding could be narrowed in part by appointing multiple founders to the exit pitch. Just now, a number of teaching programs and educators are being developed to do just that. The female Founders Alliance is running a fast -paced program to help women founders scale their startups, and startup promoter Google announced a 10 -week program this year specifically for women who builder. As of this year, All Raise is offering “office hours” for women to get feedback on their tones, and is launching a virtualbootcamp“This year to teach women to raise the first institutional stages. (The material is free to anyone.)