5 women-led firms crushing the gender gap in VC

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5 women-led firms crushing the gender gap in VC

As we settle into the second half of 2019, the VC industry in the US has already broken a handful of records to push the envelope for female founders and continue striving for gender equality.

For the first time in over a decade, companies founded solely by women have picked up more than 3% of the total capital invested in VC-backed startups in the US, according to PitchBook’s VC Female Founders Dashboard.

Capital invested crossed the $1 billion mark for female-founded startups in 1Q 2019—the highest ever for any quarter to date. And out of roughly 300 VC deals for companies led solely by women, four of those businesses have reached unicorn status so far this year. That number includes online luxury reseller The RealReal, which debuted on the NASDAQ in a high-profile exit last month.

While it’s no surprise that the venture industry remains male-dominated, women are playing an increasingly active role on the investment side of dealmaking. We’ve taken a look at five VC firms founded by women and who they’re investing in:

SoGal Ventures
“It took me months to believe in the idea that I, a twenty-four-year-old woman, could start a VC firm,” Pocket Sun wrote in a Medium post. Sun co-founded SoGal Ventures with Elizabeth Galbut in 2016 to invest in early-stage startups across Asia and the US. The firm has made more than 50 investments including EverlyWell, the developer of at-home diagnostic tests and Anomalie, an online wedding dress designer.

Halogen Ventures
Founded by talk show host Jesse Draper in 2016, Halogen Ventures is an early-stage VC fund that focuses on female-founded consumer tech startups. With roughly 50 companies under its belt, the LA-based fund added clothing rental platform Armoire to its portfolio in June. Other significant investments include theSkimm, an online newsletter geared toward female millennials and HopSkipDrive, a California-based provider of a ridehailing app for kids.

Forerunner Ventures
Forerunner Ventures was founded by Kirsten Green in 2010 and has a portfolio of more than 80 startups, including mobile banking platform Chime and Modern Fertility, the developer of a personalized fertility test. Glossier, one of the newest female-founded unicorns on the block, raised $2 million in seed funding from the San Francisco-based firm in 2013. Forerunner Ventures closed its fourth investment vehicle on a reported $360 million in 2018.

Brilliant Ventures
Santa Monica-based Brilliant Ventures was founded by Kara Weber and Lizzie Francis in 2016 with a focus on women-centric businesses. The firm’s notable investments include Haute Hijab, a direct-to-consumer fashion and lifestyle brand for Muslim women, and The Riveter, a Seattle-based workspace community for female-led businesses.

Female Founders Fund
Female Founders Fund was one of the first VC firms that launched with a mission to invest exclusively in companies founded by women. In addition to its thriving portfolio of female-led businesses like Zola, BentoBox, Thrive Global and Rent the Runway, the firm’s ecosystem also provides a peer network for female founders to connect over their experiences and share advice. Founded by Anu Duggal in 2014, the fund has invested in Billie, a female-focused lifestyle brand and Spruce Up, the provider of a home décor platform.

By Priyamvada Mathur
July 3, 2019

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