25 Jan 27 Female-Led Venture Capital Firms You Should Know
It’s no secret that the venture capital investments in the United States are made mostly by men and mostly for men. In 2019, 2.8% of VC dollars went to all-female founded teams. And approximately 11.5% of VC dollars went to female-founded and mixed-gender teams. Basic math tells us that means over 88% of VC dollars in 2019 went to all-male founding teams.
On the other side of the fence, less than 10% of the VC decision-makers are female. Surprisingly, these numbers are actually improvements over previous years. But instead of dwelling on how far away parity seems, I want to celebrate the women who are working to change the VC world! Here are 27 venture capital firms led by women, with many focused on investing in female founders.
Acrew Capital is based in San Francisco, CA and was founded by Theresia Guow, Lauren Kolodny, Asad Khaliq, Mark Kraynak, and Vishal Lugani. The firm is focused on early-stage companies and the founders believe that “diversity of perspectives drive success.” Acrew has invested in companies such as TheMuse, Petabyte, ProdPerfect, and ShieldX.
Amplifyher Ventures is based in New York City, NY and was founded by Tricia Black. The firm is focused on early-stage companies with diverse leadership teams in the following spaces: commerce, care, and connectivity. Their commerce investments include companies such as Summersalt and Hill House Home. Their care investments include companies such as Oova and Droplette. Motherly and Pepperlane represent a few of their connectivity investments.
Array Ventures was founded by Shruti Gandhi and is based in San Francisco, CA. The fund is focused on investing in companies that seek to solve impactful problems using the best technology. The team at Array Ventures is proud of their network and uses it to help portfolio companies. Some of their investments include Almanac, Mapistry, and Leap.
Backstage Capital was founded by Arlan Hamilton and is based in Los Angeles, CA. I first heard about Arlan Hamilton when she was on the Girlboss Radio podcast (one of my favorite podcasts) and her story is very inspiring; she was actually homeless before starting Backstage Capital. Backstage Capital invests in companies founded by women, people of color, or people who identify as LGBTQ. So far, Backstage Capital has invested over $7M in more than 100 companies, including Beautycon and Paladin.
If you want to learn more about Arlan Hamilton and her story, she recently published a book called, “It’s About Damn Time” about her career and winding journey into the venture capital world. She has a refreshing, positive attitude, despite the adversity she has faced.
BBG Ventures is based in New York City, NY and is run by Susan Lyne and Nisha Dua. BBG was born out of the #BUILTBYGIRLS initiative within Verizon Media Group. BBG focuses on early-stage companies in the commerce space, with at least one female founder. Regarding their focus on commerce, they strongly believe in investing in entrepreneurs who “know their end-users best” and when it comes to commerce and consumer purchases, that’s women. Their investments include Zola, The Wing, Glamsquad, Lola, Blueland, and Rocksbox, to name a few.
Brilliant Ventures is based in Los Angeles, CA and was founded by Kara Weber and Lizzie Francis. They typically invest in commerce companies, such as The Riveter, Tamara Mellon, and Parachute Home.
Color Capital is based in Portland, OR and was founded by Jamie Schmidt and Chris Cantino. Prior to starting Color, Jamie and Chris founded Schmidt’s Naturals, which was eventually acquired by Unilever. Color invests in early-stage (Seed to Series A) companies in the following industries: consumer products, retail, and ecommerce. Color prioritizes underestimated founders, specifically women and people of color. Some of their investments include Bubble, Haus, and Salt & Straw.
Cowboy Ventures was founded by Aileen Lee and is based in Palo Alto, CA. The fund backs Seed-stage technology companies. Specifically, technology companies and founders that are “re-imagining” work life and personal life. Some of their investments include Brit + Co, Dollar Shave Club, Chime, Vic.ai, and Mighty Networks.
Aileen Lee also co-founded All Raise, a non-profit dedicated to increasing the investment dollars that go to female founders. Additionally, she coined the term “unicorn,” which is a now-common term used throughout Silicon Valley and beyond to describe a company that is worth more than $1 billion dollars. (I don’t know about you, but knowing that a term frequently used by the “tech bros” of Silicon Valley was actually coined by a woman makes me very happy.)
Fearless Fund is based in Atlanta, GA and was founded by Arian Simone. The fund is focused on investing in companies led by women of color seeking pre-Seed, Seed, or Series A funding. The fund has strong relationships with influencers that will help market the portfolio companies in exchange for a small equity percentage. The fund also focuses on mentorship for entrepreneurs. A few of their investments include HairBrella, Ellis Island Tea, and EnrichHer.
Female Founders Fund
Female Founders Fund was founded by Anu Duggal and is based in New York City, NY. The fund focuses on women-led companies in the following spaces: ecommerce, web-enabled products and services, marketplaces, and platforms. A few of their investments include Billie, Bentobox, and Maven.
Fika Ventures was founded by Eva Ho and TX Zhuo and is based in Los Angeles, CA. The boutique firm invests in early-stage companies that leverage the power of data. This broad focus allows them to invest in a variety of industries. However, they are typically interested in enterprise software, FinTech, marketplaces, and digital health. Some of their investments include Atticus, Chowbus, SierraLabs, and Zentist.
Forerunner Ventures was founded by Kirsten Green and is based in San Francisco, CA. The firm invests in companies that are “rewriting the rules of culture” in the commerce space. They have invested in basically every innovative commerce company you can think of: Away, Birchbox, Curology, Bonobos, Dollar Shave Club, Glossier, Draper James, Outdoor Voices, Zola, Ritual, and Warby Parker, to name a few!
GingerBread Capital is based in San Francisco, CA and was founded by Linnea Roberts. I highly recommend listening to this episode of Skimm’d from the Couch (another one of my favorite podcasts) to hear more of Linnea’s story and how she came up with the company name! GingerBread Capital is focused on investing in the next generation of female entrepreneurs. They look for high-growth, scalable, and technology-enabled companies with differentiated business models. Some of their investments include Ellevest (Ellevest is founded by Sallie Krawcheck, one of my all-time favorite humans, but that’s a post for another day!), theSkimm, and Zola.
Halogen Ventures was founded by Jesse Draper (a 4th generation venture capitalist and creator of “The Valley Girl Show”) and is based in Los Angeles, CA. They invest in pre-Seed, Seed, or Series A companies in the consumer space. Halogen sees female-founded, consumer-focused companies as a massive opportunity for returns. The firm prides itself on being a “hands-on” VC, helping its portfolio companies build a brand, hire great people, raise additional capital, and find the right exit path. Their investments include companies such as AllVoices, Glamsquad, Beautycon, and theSkimm.
Illuminate Ventures was founded by Cindy Padnos and is based in San Francisco, CA. The firm focuses on Seed-stage companies in the B2B (business to business) enterprise cloud and mobile computing space. Their investments include software companies such as Contentstack, Hoopla, and Influitive.
January Ventures (formerly known as Jane VC) is based in Boston, MA and was founded by Jennifer Keiser Neundorfer and Maren Thomas Bannon. The firm invests in companies in the Seed stage or pre-Seed stage. They are focused on highly scalable technology companies that are changing the future of work, healthcare, or commerce. A few of their investments are Blendoor and Beautystack.
January Ventures believes that venture capital should be more transparent and accessible. As such, they do not require “warm intros” (i.e., needing to already know someone) or even a pitch deck! Their stated vision for the future is an equal opportunity tech ecosystem and they put their money in ambitious founders to advance that vision.
Merian Ventures is based in San Francisco, CA and run by Alexsis de Raadt St. James. The fund is focused on investing in early-stage, women-led, consumer-facing technology companies, specifically in the cyber, blockchain, artificial intelligence, and machine learning spaces. Their investments include companies such as Honeycomb, Pivigo, Provenance, Populus, ImpactVision, Compaas, Cirrus Identity, and LarkApps.
Owl Capital is based in Palo Alto, CA and was founded by Jennifer Fonstad. Owl Capital believes in the power of diversity, with over 80% of their portfolio founders having a diverse background and almost 40% female founders. They have also committed to donating $1M to the communities where their founders live and work. Their investments include companies like Balena, Birchbox, Ellevest, and Socrates.ai.
Portfolia was founded by Trish Costello and is based in San Francisco, CA. Portfolia takes a community approach to its investments with the goal of empowering women to make investments in companies that have the potential for both high impact and high returns. They create funds based on a certain focus area (such as FemTech) and the fund is led by expert partners in that particular field. The funds are then opened to any accredited investor until the fund fills up.
Portfolia provides a way for women to learn about venture investing by watching pitches and participating in due diligence, even if they don’t have a strong background in investing. Portfolia provides educational materials in addition to the hands-on education of participating in the investment process. The FemTech fund has invested in companies such as Sana Health and Bone Health Technologies.
Rethink Impact is an impact-based venture capital firm (the largest in the U.S., in fact) with offices in Washington, DC; San Francisco, CA; and New York City, NY. The firm invests with a gender lens in companies that are using technology to solve some of the world’s biggest problems, such as healthcare, economic empowerment, environmental sustainability, and education. Rethink Impact was founded by Jenny Abramson. A few of their investments are EverFi, Neurotrack, and Ellevest.
SoGal Ventures prides itself on being the first female-led millennial venture capital firm. It was founded by Pocket Sun and Elizabeth Galbut and is based in New York City, NY. They are focused on companies with diverse founding teams in the U.S. and Asia who are working to shape the future of how people work, live, and stay healthy. They have invested in over 70 companies, including Everlywell, Little Spoon, Werk, and Winky Lux.
Springboard Growth Capital
Springboard Growth Capital (SGC) is based in New York City, NY and was founded by Amy Wildstein and Kay Koplovitz. The fund supports female founders in the consumer space. SGC is also affiliated with a leading accelerator for female founders. Some of their investments include Hint, TheRealReal, and ClassPass.
Victress Capital was founded by Lori Cashman. The firm is focused on consumer-facing companies with bold, diverse founding teams and women in leadership roles. Some of their investments include Rae, Daily Harvest, Summersalt, Blume, and Werk.
Urban Innovation Fund
Urban Innovation Fund is based in San Francisco, CA and was founded by Clara Brenner and Julie Lein. The firm provides seed funding and regulatory support to companies shaping the future of cities. They invest in the following industries: transportation, energy and water, real estate technology, the future of work, business services and FinTech, health and public safety, GovTech and civic technology, and food systems. A few of their investments include curbFlow, Milk Stork, and Codi.
11.2 Capital is based in San Francisco, CA and was founded by Shelley Zhuang. The firm’s investment focus is on companies solving problems with technology, specifically: AI, cybersecurity, quantum, robotics, new space, and data-driven healthcare. A few of their investments are TigerGraph, White Ops, and Avaamo.
If you’re not a physics nerd, you may be curious about the name. 11.2 km/s is the velocity needed to escape Earth’s gravity. 11.2 Capital invests in founders who are solving the world’s biggest challenges, so the name fits perfectly!
1843 Capital is based in Greenwich, CT and was founded by Tracy Chadwell. They focus on early-stage technology companies and tech-enabled companies in the consumer space, specifically in cyber security, enterprise software, and “silver tech” (technology focused on improving the lives of the aging population). 1843 Capital advocates for gender equity and diverse founder teams. They have invested in companies such as Artemis, Finn AI, and HopSkipDrive.
500 Startups was founded by Christine Tsai and Dave McClure and is based in San Francisco, CA. Don’t be fooled by the name, 500 Startups has invested in over 2,000 companies, such as FabFitFun, Canva, and Udemy. In addition to the VC firm, 500 Startups also has accelerators and investor education programs. 500 Startups is on a mission to find the most talented founders, with diversity as a core value.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t read about these amazing women without getting inspired and feeling more hopeful for the future. If you’re as interested in venture capital as I am, then I’m sure you’ve heard about many of these firms, but I hope I showed you some new ones, too! And if you want to learn more about the women running these firms, check out my profiles on them, here.