5 female-founded venture capital funds to know — and the popular women-led startups they’ve invested in

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Function of Beauty, personalized haircare startup, is backed by SoGal Ventures.

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Function of Beauty, personalized haircare startup, is backed by SoGal Ventures.
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Function of Beauty/Instagram

  • More and more women are becoming entrepreneurs, but the venture capital world is still overwhelmingly dominated by men.
  • Just about 9% of VC investors are women, all of whom are working hard to diversify the startup world and bring great ideas to the forefront.
  • To celebrate Women’s History Month, we’re taking a look at five inspiring female-led VC funds and the women-led startups they’re backing like Billie, Parachute, Reformation, and more.

The faces of entrepreneurship are changing. In 2017, there were 114% more women-owned businesses than 20 years prior. Between 2016 and 2018, the number of black-women-led startups doubled. Data from Lance Surety Bonds found that immigrants are almost twice as likely to start their own business as are their US-born counterparts.

All of this makes sense. Diversity matters in the workplace, and not just for the reasons we already know, like having a greater pool of lived experiences to build from. According to McKinsey, businesses with diverse workforces typically perform better financially, too.

Still, the venture capital (VC) world is overwhelmingly male-dominated. According to a recent study by Axios, women account for just about 9% of investors across U.S. venture capital firms. And, while female entrepreneurship is growing at a rapid rate, women are still not getting as much VC funding as their male counterparts. A BCG study found that while enterprises founded by women were given about half the investment as those founded by men, the female-founded companies generated double the amount of revenue than their male equivalents.

The gender investment gap is real, but it’s clear that female entrepreneurs are still succeeding despite this. The good news – for investors and entrepreneurs alike – is there are plenty of women out there making it their job to get great female-founded businesses the funding they deserve. March is Women’s History Month, so it feels particularly fitting to celebrate the intelligent women making waves in the VC industry.

Keep reading to learn more about five female-founded VC firms and the cool startups they’ve invested in:


Halogen Ventures

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Jesse Draper, founding partner of Halogen Ventures.
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Halogen Ventures

Founded by Jesse Draper, this LA-based fund invests in early-stage, female-founded consumer technologies. Beyond providing funding, mentorship and strategic networking are an important aspect of the Halogen experience. The VC fund has an impressive portfolio, boasting multi-million dollar candy empire, Sugarfina, as well as The Sill, a direct-to-consumer plant seller that’s reinventing gardening for millennials by delivering easy-care plants right to your door. Halogen has also invested in women’s luxury activewear destination Carbon38, and Senreve, a handbag brand that makes functional, luxury purses for women, along with many other unique e-commerce and technology platforms.

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Brilliant Ventures

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Kara Weber (left) and Lizzie Francis (right), co-founders of Brilliant Ventures.
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Brilliant Ventures

Founders Kara Weber and Lizzie Francis believe that diversity – whether it be of gender, race, or beliefs – is the backbone of a successful business. That’s why they started Brilliant Ventures, an LA-based fund that invests capital (and time, experience, and ideas) into diverse founders ripe to become industry disruptors. In their portfolio you can find popular direct-to-consumer brands like Parachute, a brand that makes high-quality home essentials at accessible prices, and Tamara Mellon, a brand from the co-founder of Jimmy Choo that’s redefining luxury by offering high-quality, trendy footwear at direct-to-consumer prices.

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Forerunner Ventures

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Forerunner Ventures founding partner Kirsten Green.
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Forerunner Ventures

You’ve probably heard of a lot of the brands that early stage venture capital firm Forerunner Ventures has invested in. This San Francisco-based fun was founded by Kirsten Green, and is made up of a team that is majority women. The fund is focused on investing in industry disruptors, including companies with business-to-business and business-to-consumer offerings. Their portfolio includes the likes of sneakerhead destination Stadium Goods, men’s health and preventative care startup Hims, sustainable women’s fashion brand Reformation, and the modern travel favorite Away.

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SoGal Ventures

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Networking at one of SoGal’s global chapters.
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SoGal Ventures

SoGal Ventures takes pride in its title as the first female-led millennial venture capital firm. The fund, founded by Pocket Sun and Elizabeth Galbut, invests in seed-stage companies with diverse founding teams across the U.S. and Asia. The SoGal global community is thriving, with over 40 chapters across the world where local entrepreneurs and investors connect to work with, inspire, and learn from one another. Their portfolio includes cruelty-free makeup and skincare brand Winky Lux, technical womenswear brand ADAY, and customized haircare startup Function of Beauty.

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Female Founders Fund

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Sutian Dong (left), partner, and Anu Duggal (right), founding partner at Female Founders Fund.
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F3

Statistics show that female founders experience greater successes than their male counterparts, but traditional VC doesn’t reflect this fact. The Female Founders Fund was founded by Anu Duggal to break this cycle. The fund invests in impactful women-led startups across e-commerce, web-enabled products and services, marketplaces, and platforms. Some of their portfolio standouts include Billie, a direct-to-consumer shave and body brand for women, Primary, e-commerce brand that makes high-quality, affordable kids clothing, and Eloquii, an online fashion brand that serves plus-size shoppers.

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