In 2019, investment in all-female founding businesses reached $3.3 billion, an estimated 2.8% of all U.S. Venture Capital invested capital. While that number still may seem low, it's an improvement over the number in 2018 where women-led startups garnered only 2.2% of all Venture Capital investments.
It turns out female-founded companies have a harder time raising money than their male counterparts and - while the numbers may be going up - they still represent a small percentage in the billions of dollars that get invested each year. In fact, 35% of the time, male founded companies get funding after their first round compared to female founded businesses which get funding less than 2% of the time.
The gender gap in VC funding is glaring despite data that shows gender diversity actually increases financial returns. According to a Harvard Business Review study, female founders are even asked different questions when it comes to potential investors. Men are asked how they plan to make money, while the women are asked how they plan to avoid losing money. It seems right from the start women are asked to play defense before they are even given a chance to show their hand. Institutional inequalities such as these questions set up a bias against female founders and make it harder for them to raise money for their companies.
Thankfully, a number of firms see the potential in female founded businesses and they are making a concentrated effort to counteract these inequalities. These Venture Capital funds have opened to solely focus on female run startups, and it is those funds that have started to make a dent in equalizing the gender gap when it comes to investment capital. Here is a look at three of those funds.
Founded by Anu Duggal in 2014, Female Founders Fund was one of the first Venture Capital firms whose investment thesis focused solely on companies founded by women. With the tag "Investing in the exponential power of exceptional female talent," Female Founders Fund has invested in the likes of Bento Box, Rent the Runway, Zola, and the female-focused lifestyle brand, Billie.
These are all female run companies and all align with their one simple belief that "female founders are building the companies of tomorrow that will yield exceptional returns for investors." In addition to investments, Female Founders Fund hosts events and acts as a platform to build a strong female community of CEO's and innovators to provide advice and share information for female founders to connect over their joint experiences.
Founded by Jesse Draper in 2016, Halogen Ventures focuses on female-led consumer tech startups. According to Draper, "Female-led businesses represent a massive opportunity. With women making 80% of household purchasing decisions, we are betting on early stage female founded companies with billion-dollar potential."
Halogen Ventures is a full-service investment fund looking to help female-run businesses get started and stay relevant. "We are hands on and support our founders through their full lifecycle. We help them build their networks, hire great talent, raise follow-on rounds and find their path to acquisition or IPO." Halogen Ventures has a portfolio of about 50 companies including the female millennial online newsletter, theSkimm, the clothing rental platform Armoire, and multi-million dollar candy empire, Sugarfina.
Since 2005, Golden Seeds has invested over $110 million in over 150 female-run businesses. With the singular mission to fund high-potential, women-led companies and create lasting impact, Golden Seeds has made a difference in closing the gender gap when it comes to investment capital. According to their website, their "investment thesis rests on the extensive research that concludes that gender diverse teams produce better return on equity. By seeking companies where women hold leadership positions and own substantial equity, we are funding companies that are likely to have diverse perspectives that will contribute to ultimate success."
With a mission statement like this, Golden Seeds aids in the fight to support women-led startups and equalize VC investment capital when it comes to gender. Golden Seeds is a fund that stays on the pulse of female-led businesses and knows and invests in their potential. "Women are starting businesses at record levels, with the ideas, skills and talents to build great companies. But like all early-stage entrepreneurs, they need capital to fuel their growth. Golden Seeds, one of the nation's largest and most active investment groups, focuses squarely on this high-potential segment."
These firms set a great example for how investors should include diversity in their thesis. 42% of businesses are owned by women. They employ over 9 million workers and generate $1.9 trillion in revenue each year. According to a study conducted by the First Round investment firm, companies with female founders performed 63% better than companies with all-male founders and a study led by the Small Business Administration's Venture Capital, Social Capital and the Funding of Women-led Businesses reported that Venture Capital firms that invested in female founded companies saw a positive return on their investment. Yet despite this data, the gender gap within investment capital is very real. Fortunately, there are funds popping up poised to correct this imbalance, funds that only invest in female founded businesses, funds that see the potential and opportunity in the experience and skill of female entrepreneurs.
1. US VC Investment in Female Founders Hits All-Time High
2. Women-owned businesses face a lack of funding and here's how to change this
3. Male and Female Entrepreneurs Get Asked Different Questions by VCs and It Affects How Much Funding They Get
4. Female Founders Fund
5. Halogen Ventures
6. Golden Seeds