This VC firm is raising a $20M fund to invest in startups with diverse founding teams – GeekWire
The numbers don’t lie — female founders face an uphill battle compared to their male counterparts when it comes to raising venture capital.
The Women’s Venture Capital Fund wants to fix this.
The Portland, Ore.-based investment firm plans to raise $20 million as part of its second fund, confirmed founder and Managing Director Edith Dorsen.
Founded in 2011, the Women’s Venture Capital Fund aims to invest in gender-diverse leadership teams. Its portfolio companies are required to have at least one woman leader with equity.
Dorsen, a former investment banker and consultant, launched the firm six years ago with co-founder and former Harvard Business School classmate Monica Dodi.
“We saw more and more venture-worthy women entrepreneurs, and very little venture capital was directed at teams that included women,” Dorsen said.
Its first fund helped support eight companies on the West Coast, seven of which had female CEOs — startups like Nvoicepay, EdSurge, and others.
Dorsen said she’s been happy with the arrival of more seed-stage funding mechanisms for women-led startups, but said there is still a gap for more mature companies looking for cash. That’s why the second fund will focus on Series A-stage startups working on products in consumer internet, education technology, and enterprise SaaS.
Dorsen noted that the firm’s name “is a little bit of a misnomer” — it seeks to invest in companies with women leaders, but also values having the right mix.
“We’ve always been interested in the power of diversity with leadership,” she said.
Dorsen has a team of less than ten people helping run operations at the fund. Investors come from across the country, with an equal number of male and female backers.
RELATED: The Comprehensive Case for Investing More VC Money in Women-Led Startups
Dorsen noted that for the fund’s investors, “this is not a philanthropic investment.”
“They evaluate it in terms of potential for return,” she said.
Silicon Valley firm First Round Capital did a review of its own portfolio performance from 2005 to 2015 and found that companies with at least one female founder performed 63 percent better than startups with all-male founding teams.
Even so, women-led companies are still receiving far less VC money than male-founded startups — and the gap is actually getting worse, as Fortune reported.
A recent study published in the Harvard Business Review noted that male and female entrepreneurs get asked different questions by venture capitalists, which impacts how much money they receive.
One issue may be the lack of women venture capitalists — TechCrunch found that 8 percent of partners at the top 100 venture firms are female. And this Bloomberg analysis from May showed that even firms with female senior investing partners were not more likely to invest in companies founded by women.
There are other VC firms also making a commitment to investing in startups with at least one female founder — XFactor Ventures, backed by Flybridge Capital Partners, has a similar mantra.
Meanwhile, the VC industry as a whole has been engulfed in a flurry of bombshells this year related to sexual harassment allegations.
At our recent GeekWire Summit in Seattle, Zillow Group COO Amy Bohutinsky moderated a diversity panel with Moz CEO Sarah Bird, HERE Seattle co-founder Eric Osborne and Effenus Henderson, co-director of the Institute of Sustainable Diversity & Inclusion. They talked about how companies can authentically build a culture that values diversity and inclusion — watch it below.