Female Founders Alliance launched in 2017 out of a group of women who wanted to help female entrepreneurs grow companies and land funding. Now the Seattle-based organization will be doing some of the funding itself.
FFA on Thursday unveiled a new $10 million venture capital fund and rebranded to Graham & Walker as part of its expansion to investing.
The group has mainly served as a network for female founders and ran an accelerator called Ready Set Raise.
Over the course of five years since she launched FFA, founder Leslie Feinzaig realized how much investor interest there was in female-led startups.
“We should be investing in these companies,” she said.
Feinzaig, managing director of the fund, originally set out to raise $3 million. But there was indeed plenty of interest; Feinzaig ultimately raised cash from 105 backers.
Investors in the fund include companies such as Bank of America and Carta, and individuals such as former DocuSign CEO Court Lorenzini and Adriane Brown, a board director at American Airlines and eBay. Two-thirds of the investors are women, and 40% are first-time fund investors.
Graham & Walker has already made 11 investments in female-led early-stage tech startups across the U.S. Its average check size is between $25,000 and $400,000 for pre-seed and seed rounds.
Startups with female-only founders raised just 2.2% of VC funding through the first eight months of 2021, a 5-year-low, Crunchbase reported.
“Graham & Walker can make it better,” Feinzaig said of the funding gap for women-founded startups. “And the only way to do that is through collaboration with everybody else out there who wants to make it better. We’re going to make a dent, but we’re not going to do it alone.”
The Graham & Walker name comes from Katharine Graham, the former Washington Post publisher and first woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company, and Madam C.J. Walker, known to be the first self-made millionaire in America.
Some of the companies in the Graham & Walker portfolio include Seattle startups PairTree, which facilitates the adoption process, and Brightly, a community for eco-friendly living and shopping.
Graham & Walker remains a social purpose corporation, a type of profit corporation the state of Washington created in 2012, and is funded primarily through corporate partners. It will continue running the Ready Set Raise accelerator, and will invest $50,000 in each company from its new fund.