We’ve seen a lot of excitement this year so far around women founders and the venture capital community, which is warming up to the notion that women can create, run and build powerhouse businesses that transform the way we do, well, most everything. Recent headlines about the latest women-led companies that have reached the rarified “unicorn” status (Rent the Runway and Glossier) continue to prove that notion true.
Slowly, but steadily, women founders are finding a more receptive audience with venture capitalists. A new report from Female Founders Fund, which has been tracking VC investments in women-led firms since 2013, shows that while we’re still a looong ways off from reaching gender parity, the VC industry is moving in the right direction, with more investments than ever before being made in startups with at least one woman at the helm. In 2018, those firms received $40 billion, or about 17% of all dollars invested for the year, according to Crunchbase.
Heartening is the increasing number of women-led firms that are closing third and fourth rounds of follow-on funding — which demonstrates, the report notes, “the progress made by female founders from the bottom up, raising capital and scaling businesses over the past five years.”
Progress, yes. But we (and many others) believe what will move the needle and open up an equitable flow of capital to women founders is…other women.
What will accelerate change in the VC industry? First, more women as partners in VC firms. A new directory, The Global Women in VC (compiled by Sutian Dong of Female Founders Fund and Jessica Peltz-Zatulove of MDC Ventures) maintains a growing list of more than 1,000 female venture capitalists around the world. Increasing their numbers is also the primary mission of All Raise, a consortium of women in the VC community (and a huge shout out to co-founder Aileen Lee! for being named to the Time 100 Most Influential People of 2019).
Second, more women realizing the economic opportunity of investing in women founders and supporting them with their checkbooks will spur more successful companies led by women –and more investment capital from the industry overall.
We’ve been busy this past quarter living and promoting that vision, too. (Read our latest newsletter.) Since the beginning of the year we’ve added six new companies to our portfolio and made three follow-on investments, along with an investment in a women-focused fund, Human Ventures, led by Heather Hartnett. Earlier this month, we co-hosted another Women Investing in Women event in New York City, with the extraordinary designer and women’s empowerment advocate, Diane von Furstenberg. Watch the video.
We’ve also enjoyed being a part of the press coverage that’s turned a spotlight on women founders, the incredible businesses they’re running, and the growing ecosystem that supports them.
Read the GingerBreadCap Spring 2019 newsletter for more of our Q1 highlights.