Woman Looking at Laptop Illustrates Venture Capital for Female Entrepreneurs

Where can U.S. female entrepreneurs find venture capital investment?

18 min read
Deborah Sweeney

Last year, I wrote a series of articles about where female entrepreneurs can find venture capital investments across the United States. I didn’t realize it at the time since these pieces ran in February and March, but by June 2019 data was aggregating that female-founded unicorns were being established faster than ever before.

2019 was the year of the female-founded unicorn.

By December 2019, a whopping 21 companies with at least one female founder had reached billion-dollar status.

But — and I wish I didn’t have to start this sentence with this word — the herd of progressive unicorns still struggles to obtain funding.

Less than 2% of all venture funding in the United States goes to companies led by women. An even tinier percentage goes toward African-American women at .006%.

However, the silver lining to these current statistics is that there are female venture capital (VC) firms across the entire country. And they have a reputation for funding female-founded businesses. Maybe you’re familiar with some of these names, or perhaps you had no idea that some of these firms existed in close proximity to your startup.

Where to find venture capital investment firms for women

No matter where you reside — East Coast, West Coast, Midwest, or in the South — these female-focused VC firms may be in the position to help get your startup off the ground.

Let’s get started finding the money to launch your business!

West Coast female VC firms

First let’s highlight some of the best and brightest female VC firms on the West Coast.

  1. Aligned Partners
  2. Forerunner Ventures
  3. Halogen Ventures
  4. Rivet Ventures
  5. Urban Innovation Fund
  6. WomensVCFund II

1. Aligned Partners

Leadership and Location: Based in Menlo Park, California, Aligned Partners is led by managing partner powerhouses Jodi Sherman Jahic and Susan Mason.

Who’s in their portfolio? Aligned Partners serves as the lead investor for companies that fall into the following categories:

  • Capital-efficient businesses that require $10 million or less in total VC funding
  • Early stage information technology companies, including mobile and cloud-delivered software and services

What do they do? Aligned Partners lives up to its name in aligning the interests of investors and entrepreneurs. Many entrepreneurs take on more capital than what is necessary to grow their businesses.

Working alongside their portfolio companies, Aligned Partners encourages and enables the founders to stay lean even as they continue to grow.

Both Sherman Jahic and Mason have founded companies themselves. They understand the value of staying capital-efficient and how it ultimately contributes to the bottom line of a startup’s success.

2. Forerunner Ventures

Leadership and Location: Founded by Kristen Green, who has more than 20 years of success in evaluation and investment, Forerunner Ventures is headquartered in San Francisco, California.

Who’s in their portfolio? Forerunner Ventures has a client portfolio alphabetized from A (Alchemy 43) to Z (Zyper). Noteworthy startup giants include Dollar Shave Club, Glossier and Warby Parker.

What do they do? Launched in 2010, Forerunner Ventures prides itself on being an early stage VC firm investing in companies rewriting the rules of culture. Forerunner Ventures nurtures out-of-the-box ideas from entrepreneurs and focuses its commitment on working with these companies to realize their vision.

3. Halogen Ventures

Leadership and Location: The brainchild of Jesse Draper, former Nickelodeon star and host of “The Valley Girl Show,” Halogen Ventures can be found in sunny Southern California.

Who’s in their portfolio? Is your business female-founded? Does it reside in the consumer technology space? It would be in great company in the portfolio of Halogen Ventures, which includes companies like One Potato, Clover Letter, Sugarfina, theSkimm and Eloquii.

What do they do? Halogen Ventures lives by the mantra that “entrepreneurs are the salt of the earth.” Their VC fund is early stage and, as mentioned above, focuses on funding female-founded startups changing the world we live in.

Outside of funding, Halogen Ventures also wants to help its portfolio companies beyond monetary means.

Entrepreneurs who work with Halogen Ventures get to tap into a community network of investors, accelerators and advisors to keep furthering their brands forward.

4. Rivet Ventures

Leadership and Location: We’re heading back to San Francisco to meet up with Rivet Ventures, co-founded by Shadi Mehraein and Rebeca Hwang.

Who’s in their portfolio? Rivet Ventures funds a medley of startups ranging from children’s multimedia company GoldieBlox to business management platform HoneyBook.

What do they do? Much like Halogen Ventures, Rivet Ventures invests in businesses run by women. The firm also backs male founders, so long as the companies are in women-led markets where female usage matters to the growth of the business.

Rivet goes beyond providing capital by offering assistance to entrepreneurs in everything from helping pursue development deals to hiring.

What keeps this VC firm standing out from the pack? Rivet listens. Once the team knows what you and your business are about, they can provide the best in personalized expertise.

5. Urban Innovation Fund

Leadership and Location: Based in San Francisco, California, Urban Innovation Fund is led by Managing Partners Julie Lein and Clara Brenner.

Who’s in their portfolio? This VC firm’s portfolio is incredibly diverse and unique. You’ll find businesses of all kinds here, from breast-milk shipping service Milk Stork to udelv, creators of the driverless, electric, last-mile delivery vehicle.

What do they do? Urban Innovation Fund is a VC firm investing in the future of cities. Statistics on its website state that 81% of Americans live in cities and two-thirds of the world’s population will have urbanized by the year 2050.

If your startup can shape the future of a city — in an industry like transportation, food systems or housing — Urban Innovation Fund wants to help fund your business with seed capital.

6. WomensVCFund II

Leadership and Location: The WomensVCFund II has two locations in Los Angeles, California, and Portland, Oregon. The firm also has two co-founders in Edith Dorsen and Monica Dodi.

Who’s in their portfolio? The WomensVCFund II portfolio consists of businesses from all around the country. These include The Riveter, Seattle’s coworking space for women, Vow To Be Chic, a Santa Monica bridesmaid rental company, and The Dyrt, Portland’s online camping resource.

What do they do? The limited access to capital that women entrepreneurs, or leadership teams including women, receive had long been on Dorsen and Dodi’s minds. In 2017, they launched the WomensVCFund II. This VC firm piggybacked off its initial success investing in early stage women entrepreneurs and their revenue-generating businesses and showing that gender diversity is key to success in business.

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Midwest female VC firms

As Midwest VC firms continue expanding, which ones should women entrepreneurs seeking venture capital financing have on their radar? Start with these five:

  1. Jane VC
  2. Moderne Ventures
  3. Ceres Venture Fund
  4. KCRise Fund
  5. Capita3

1. Jane VC

Leadership and Location: Jane VC is based in Cleveland, Ohio, and led by founding partners Jennifer Keiser Neundorfer and Maren Thomas Bannon.

Who’s in their portfolio? Proformex, Sown to Grow and Hatch Apps are a handful of “the stars of Jane” in their portfolio.

What do they do? Jane VC is devoted to helping women-led businesses. Quotes on their site acknowledge that women-led companies are big performers, but women worldwide receive just 2% of venture capital investment dollars.

Ergo, investing in women is good business and one that Jane VC dedicated its mission to.

Women-led businesses are welcome to pitch them their big, bright ideas.

Beyond investment, Jane VC also provides additional opportunities in the form of guidance, thought partnership, and introductions.

2. Moderne Ventures

Leadership and Location: Led by Founder and Managing Partner Constance Freedman, Moderne Ventures is located in Chicago.

Who’s in their portfolio? Businesses are listed on the site in alphabetical order, from home security platform Abode to Zaarly, where individuals may hire home service providers that deliver on what they promise.

What do they do? Moderne Ventures invests in early stage companies in industries that include insurance, finance and real estate. Why these industries specifically? According to Moderne’s website, they’re trillion-dollar markets that represent 20% of the U.S. GDP, making them ripe for innovation.

Beyond capital, Moderne Ventures is working to put disruptive businesses on the path to success.

They offer a membership program called the Moderne Network composed of executives who serve as mentors and advisors to the fund and its portfolio companies. A seven-month immersion accelerator, known as the Moderne Passport, gives applicants the chance to take their businesses to the next level.

Businesses that join the program receive mentorship opportunities and the chance to refine strategies for their startups.

3. Ceres Venture Fund

Leadership and Location: Based in Northfield, Illinois, Ceres Venture Fund is led by three managing directors: Sona Wang, Donna Williamson and Laura Pearl, who each boast more than 20 years of experience in venture capital financing.

Who’s in their portfolio? A wide range of businesses, including event commerce market leader Eved, LLC, manufacturer of the world’s first total artificial heart SynCardia Systems, Inc., and biotechnology company SynTherix, Inc.

What do they do? Ceres Venture Fund believes in early stage Midwestern businesses with high growth potential. Will they invest in these businesses, especially those that specialize in IT and healthcare fields? Yes!

More than funding, Ceres Venture Fund wants to aid in the successful development of these startups. They partner with entrepreneurs and provide portfolio companies with resources, like valuable contacts, that can take their companies onward and upward.

4. KCRise Fund

Leadership and Location: Founder and Managing Director Darcy Howe is at the helm of this venture capital investment firm in Kansas City, Missouri.

Who’s in their portfolio? It’s a who’s who of the Kansas City startup scene, with businesses like Payit, Life Equals and Blooom in their portfolio.

What do they do? Promising startups in the greater Kansas City area have an ally in KCRise Fund. The co-investment fund specializes in financing high-growth startups that need $1 million or more.

However, with great monetary power comes great responsibility.

KCRise Fund has a four-step investment process. Interested applicants must complete an introduction form and meet certain eligibility requirements, go through an initial screening, and connect with institutional investors. From there, the final decision to invest is voted on by the KCRise Fund Board of Directors.

5. Capita3

Leadership and Location: Hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Capita3’s leadership includes Founding General Partners Pamela York and Sara Russick.

Who’s in their portfolio? While the Capita3 website does not include a list of companies in its portfolio, the firm will reportedly provide seed stage funding over the next two years for seven to 10 Midwestern businesses run by women.

What do they do? “From her to there” is the tagline for the early stage VC fund. Capita3 invests in companies — especially women-led startups in the B2C and B2B markets — that emphasize living healthier lives.

There’s one distinctive way Capita3 stands out from the typical VC firm pack: They invest in the company and its CEO.

This is part of the “new standard” that Capita3 hopes to establish for VC-financed businesses. Their team is full of entrepreneurs and investors who have been there, scaled that startup and got the company exit T-shirt, so you know you’re in trustworthy hands.

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Southern female VC firms

Here are five standout female-focused venture capital funds in the South:

  1. The JumpFund
  2. True Wealth Ventures
  3. Good Growth Capital
  4. Valor Ventures
  5. Bumble Fund

1. The JumpFund

Leadership and Location: Led by Managing Partner Kristina Montague, The JumpFund is based out of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Who’s in their portfolio? Specialty roasting coffee company Fleetwood Coffee, natural dye business Stony Creek Colors and 3D printed shoemaker Feetz all have a place in The JumpFund’s portfolio.

Every company in this portfolio has two things in common: Each business is led by aspirational women entrepreneurs and each was founded in the Southeast.

What do they do? Where are the women? Since launching in 2013, this is the question The JumpFund has set out to answer. Their solutions include increased capital investments for women entrepreneurs in two categories: women investing in women and gender lens investing.

The JumpFund recruits and works with women interested in investing capital into high-growth ventures created by other women. Their VC fund is also part of 58 other VC funds that invest through a gender lens. This means that the focus is on increasing women’s access to capital and women’s presence and value as entrepreneurs.

2. True Wealth Ventures

Leadership and Location: This Austin, Texas, venture capital investment firm is led by Founding General Partner Sara T. Brand and General Partner Kerry Rupp.

Who’s in their portfolio? Smartwatch provider UnaliWear, mobile neurocognitive testing solutions company BrainCheck, and patented skin health treatment Dermala all have a place in the True Wealth Ventures portfolio.

What do they do? True Wealth Ventures follows a specific hashtag mission: #TrueWealthWomenDo. Statistics have shown that women-led companies succeed financially, but only 2% of venture capital dollars go toward these startups.

This VC fund invests in high-growth markets where women are the primary customer.

Moreover, True Wealth Ventures seeks out companies where women are interested in making a positive impact through environmental and human health.

3. Good Growth Capital

Leadership and Location: Led by Managing Partners Maureen Stancik Boyce, Ph.D., and Amy Salzhauer, you’ll find Good Growth Capital’s office in Charleston, South Carolina.

Who’s in their portfolio? Good Growth Capital places a primary focus on investing in early stage tech companies, and their portfolio reads as a “who’s who” of movers and shakers in the space. There’s Republic and Questis in the fintech space, Pryon in artificial intelligence, and Aluna and Leuko rounding out healthcare technology.

What do they do? As mentioned above, Good Growth Capital’s VC firm helps fund early stage technology startups and fill in the investment gap.

Good Growth Capital goes beyond simply investing in a business. The firm connects its portfolio companies to their partners in Charleston, Boston and New York to continue supporting entrepreneurs behind tech startups.

Further investment opportunities might also be found in Good Growth Capital’s Infinite Corridor Fund. This fund targets industry sectors, like hard sciences and data sciences, that are poised for rapid growth.

An in-network team of advisors with serious qualifications assist in the process. These advisors have either worked with or at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Some are even active angel investors with MIT angel groups, proving they know how to walk the walk and talk the tech talk.

4. Valor Ventures

Leadership and Location: Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Valor Ventures is led by Founding General Partner Lisa Calhoun and Founding Partner Sarah O’Brien.

Who’s in their portfolio? Businesses ranging from one-click event photography services company Candidly to Rented.com for short-term vacation rentals.

What do they do? You only have to look to the fund’s name for why it’s worth it to partner with Valor.

Valor knows what it means to be courageous.

The VC fund offers a supportive shoulder for seed stage founder growth and understands how to meet the challenge of growth spurts and growing pains alike. Valor invests in seed stage companies on a national level, from software startups to businesses categorized as “undiscovered overachievers.”

They even have a recruiting platform through Women Who Code. This allows Valor to assist companies in their portfolio in finding the talent they need for their technical roles.

5. Bumble Fund

Leadership and Location: Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Whitney Wolfe Herd’s dating app Bumble announced the launch of in-house VC fund Bumble Fund in 2018. Their investment strategy is led by Bumble COO Sarah Jones Simmer and Senior Advisor Sarah Kunst.

Who’s in their portfolio? For now, initial commitments include companies like Beautycon and Mahmee. Swimwear company Sofia Los Angeles is also included, which was founded by Anasofia Gomez. If Gomez’s name rings a bell with devoted Bumble fans, it’s because she was one of the first winners of the Bumble Bizz Pitch Competition.

What do they do? Swipe right for investors. App jokes aside, Bumble Fund is keenly aware that many women — particularly those in the Black and Latinx communities — tend to be the most entrepreneurial and the most ignored by venture capital investors.

Bumble, which prides itself on having an 85% female workforce, has taken investing into their own hands.

Bumble Fund wants to help fund women in underrepresented groups with a focus on early stage investments.

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East Coast female VC firms

Now, over to the East Coast. Check out these five, women-founded VC firms with a reputation for funding women-owned businesses:

  1. Female Founders Fund
  2.  Glasswing Ventures
  3.  Chloe Capital
  4.  SoGal Ventures
  5. 1843 Capital

1. Female Founders Fund

Leadership and Location: Female Founders Fund is led by Founding Partner Anu Duggal and Partner Sutian Dong out of New York City.

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.

2. Glasswing Ventures

Leadership and 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 its 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.

3. Chloe Capital

Leadership and 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.

Beyond investments, Chloe Capital is working to close the diversity gap between entrepreneurs and venture capital.

The firm aims to provide seed stage funding, plus the resources and connections within the community needed to grow the business over time.

4. SoGal Ventures

Leadership and 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? More than 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.

5. 1843 Capital

Leadership and 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? According to its website, English mathematician Ada Byron Lovelace wrote some of the world’s earliest computer algorithms. 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.

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What’s next?

If you are looking for funding, these examples of VC firms that focus on venture capital for women are worth researching further. There’s never been a better time to take your dream of entrepreneurship to the next level!

Related: Top 20 crowdfunding platforms of 2020