In 2018, I found myself writing quite a bit on the topic of female entrepreneurs and venture capital for women. Last year was the 30th anniversary of the passing of HR 5050. The act ensured that women business owners could take out loans in their own names. Prior to the act’s passing, women were required to have a cosigner for loans. It couldn’t be another woman, either. The cosigner had to be male.
Three decades is a fairly short time span. For many women entrepreneurs today, the passing of this act happened in their lifetime.
You would think that the process might be a little easier by now, but change is, unfortunately, often slow in coming.
Fast Company and Inc. surveyed 279 women entrepreneurs in 2018 to uncover information about what it’s really like to raise capital for women-led businesses. The survey found that 63 percent of women reported using venture capital or angel investments to help finance their businesses, but it was not easy. For example, a number of survey respondents reported being told they “did not look like a CEO” to having pregnancy block them from raising funds, among other challenges.
I might not be able to solve the issue of helping women entrepreneurs get financing, no matter what shape or form it comes in, overnight. However, what I can do is provide valuable information about which VC firms are founded by women, for women.
Join me for the next couple of months as we travel the country to uncover the women-led VC firms female entrepreneurs should know about. (I will try to include firms from a variety of cities and states.)
Our first stop? The East Coast!
Venture capital for women: 5 firms on the East Coast
Check out these five, women-founded VC firms with a reputation for funding women-owned businesses:
- Female Founders Fund.
- Glasswing Ventures.
- Chloe Capital.
- SoGal Ventures.
- 1843 Capital.
Leadership + Location: Female Founders Fund (abbreviated as FFF) is led by founding partner Anu Duggal and partner Sutian Dong out of New York, New York.
Who’s in their portfolio? Startups from B (BentoBox) to Z (Zola). I would use A to Z, but there isn’t a company with a name that starts with an “A” listed … Yet!
What do they do? Simply put, Female Founders Fund is an early-stage firm that invests in exceptionally talented women business owners. The firm sticks to the mission that, “It’s not just about women. It’s about talent.”
If you have a disruptive offering that can make consumer lives better, they want to hear about it — and potentially help fund that business.
What kinds of industries pique their interest? Marketplaces (across B2B and B2C industries), eCommerce brands, web-enabled products and services, and platforms (social networks and communities). If you’re reading this and have an emerging startup in one of these four categories, consider pitching them your deck.
Leadership + Location: Rudina Seseri serves as the founder and managing partner for the Boston-based VC firm.
What do they do? “Today’s innovation, tomorrow’s transformation.” Who could resist pitching a VC firm with such an incredible tagline? This early-stage firm invests in artificial intelligence (AI) and frontier technology companies, perfect for female entrepreneurs with next-generation AI on their minds and in their business plans.
Beyond investments, Glasswing Ventures also has several councils under their belt. The Connect Council team is made up of entrepreneurs, technologists, AI academics and business executives. A group of security experts known as the Protect Council work to build and enhance their security portfolio. Last but never least, successful business owners make up the Entrepreneurs Lead-in Council to guide companies that receive investment funding onward and upward.
Leadership + Location: Chloe Capital is led by not two, but three female partners. Kathryn Cartini, Elisa Miller-Out (who serves as their managing partner) and Erica O’Brian lead the team in Ithaca, New York.
Who’s in their portfolio? Accelerator companies like Mi Padrino and Raybaby can be in their portfolio shortlist.
What do they do? Chloe Capital is a seed-stage VC firm. Subsequently, their investments are seed stage (in the same camp as early-stage investments) that are ready to finance women entrepreneurs on track to build a thriving business.
The firm aims to provide seed-stage funding, plus the resources and connections within the community needed to grow the business over time.
Leadership + Location: Founding partners include Pocket Sun and Elizabeth Galbut. SoGal Ventures is based out of New York, but also maintains a strong international presence in countries including China and Singapore.
Who’s in their portfolio? 50+ startups throughout the world including SWAAY Media in New York, Idaho’s Lovevery, and The Right.Fit in Sydney, Australia.
What do they do? SoGal Ventures prides itself on “not being your typical venture capitalists.” The seed-stage investment firm is also the first to be led by millennial women. Millennials, once considered to be too young to employ or assume the CEO duties of a startup, are now entering their 30s. As their generation prepares to take over the workplace, SoGal Ventures is ready to invest in their ideas and plans. They’re saving the world and have the capital to back it up — one diverse, bold startup at a time.
Leadership + Location: Tracy Chadwell serves as founding partner alongside general partner Alison Andrews Reyes at this early-stage VC firm. 1843 Capital is based out of Greenwich, Connecticut
Who’s in their portfolio? Current fund investments include startups like Agrilyst and Finn.ai. Previously, 1843 Capital invested in Beautycounter, Rapt Media and Seedling.
What do they do? Earlier, I mentioned how I spent a great deal of 2018 learning more about the passing of HR 5050. This firm goes further back in time in championing exceptionally talented women. According to its website, Ada Byron Lovelace wrote some of the world’s earliest computer algorithms. Lovelace was an English mathematician. Despite being in the presence of male mathematicians like Carl Friedrich Gauss and Bernhard Riemann, Lovelace was credited for her vision in 1843. Then and now, 1843 Capital celebrates Lovelace and pays tribute by investing in other influential women entrepreneurs breaking new ground.
If you are looking for funding, these five examples of East Coast firms that focus on venture capital for women are worth researching further. In future articles, we will be continuing our journey and highlighting other female-focused firms in other regions.