This grassroots effort aims to corral more women in venture capital worldwide--potentially helping women-led companies gain better access to funding.
You already know women are few and far between in the venture capital world. Sutian Dong and Jessica Peltz-Zatulove want to change that.
On Monday, the venture capital investors officially introduced their Global Women in VC Directory, an online database of nearly 1,000 women investors, which Dong and Peltz-Zatulove hope will help encourage more women investors to enter the field and grow within it.
"If you want to continue to promote and elevate women in venture, there needs to be career progression and upward mobility," says Peltz-Zatulove, a partner at MDC Ventures, an early-stage venture investing firm in New York City. "Having this infrastructure enables them to find each other to connect and collaborate in a more efficient way." And that stands to help entrepreneurs, say the co-founders.
Take New York City-based health care startup Maven as an example. It's a portfolio company at the Female Founders Fund, an early-stage venture firm in New York where Dong is a partner. As Maven prepared to raise its Series A, Dong used the directory to find follow-on investors with health care expertise. "Two of the women in that directory--Lauren Brueggen for Spring Mountain Capital and Ally Tam from 14W--their two funds ended up co-leading the Series A."
For now, the directory, which is free to join, is password protected and only available to those investing in institutional and corporate funds, as well as family offices. The directory's members currently span 29 countries and 597 venture firms. (Angel and private equity investors and limited partners in venture funds need not apply.) While entrepreneurs themselves can't currently view the directory, Peltz-Zatulove and Dong acknowledge the possibility of eventually releasing a public-facing directory.
In the meantime, the project, which the founders have been working on since October 2015, is revealing, they say, as it showcases how women investors tick. Typically the directory's members invest in deals for enterprise, health care, fintech, and consumer startups. They're also mostly investing in the earliest stages of a company. Data shows 66 percent of members invest in a startup's seed stage while 71 percent invest in a company's series A. Given the nature of venture capital, some members invest across stages.
Yet their participation plummets as capital requirements increase, with only 44 percent of women investing in Series B rounds and 30 percent investing in subsequent growth rounds. This later-stage drop off was exemplified just last week when Backstage Capital's Arlan Hamilton admitted her widely publicized $36 million fund for black female founders still hasn't closed.
The reasons for the gap may be manifold, but Dong and Peltz-Zatulove think shining a light on it will help. "This is the largest self-reported database for female investors in the world," says Dong, noting it helps members feel like they're part of a bigger community. "We aim to be that connecting tissue--a gateway to other markets for these other women. It's just transformational."