Fundraising for startups is hard, no matter what. Yet, winning the hearts (and checkbooks) of investors has long been a men’s game. After all, women-led startups receive a mere 7 percent of venture capital, and loan approval for female-run business is a staggering 20 percent less than it is for men.
Startup founders are urged to perform ample research on investors prior to pitching. Targeting the right investors from the startup gives you a better chance of success—and it respects everyone’s time. If you’re seeking female-friendly startup investors, these accelerator programs, angel investors and venture capital firms may be your speed. Their areas of expertise and interest may vary but what they all have in common: a determination to change the landscape of investment options for female-led startups.
Go get ‘em, ladies.
1. Golden Seeds
Golden Seeds is a Silicon Valley-based angel investment firm, dedicated to progressing women-led startups. Founded in 2005, when “women entrepreneurs represented less than 3% of all companies receiving start-up capital,” Golden Seeds reviews more than 1,000 opportunities each year. 275 investors are located nation-wide.
2. Women’s Startup Lab
Women’s Startup Lab coins itself as “a year-long program, kicked off with a two-week intensive residential program in Silicon Valley with only 9 awesome founders at a time.” It’s an accelerator program dedicated entirely to female-led startups. Advisors include Fran Maier (of Match.com), Adeo Ressi (CEO of Founder Institute) and Denise Brosseau (founder of Watermark).
3. Female Founders Fund
Female Founders Fund offers early stage investment. Its network of founders includes Jennie Fleiss from Rent the Runway, Katrina Lake from Stich Fix and Kevin Ryan of Gilt. Female Founders Fund focuses investments on e-commerce, marketplaces and platforms—areas where they feel women can have mega influence.
4. Pipeline Angeles
Pipeline Angels consists of new and seasoned angel investors. They’re all women. And they’re flowing capital to women entrepreneurs in a big way. Natalia Oberti Noguera founded the organization in an effort to give women a better shot at early stage funding. And that early stage shot gives women entrepreneurs a better chance down the road: “six months to a year after getting funding from Pipeline Angels, they’re able to secure late-stage funding—because they’ve grown, scaled, and gotten the traction they need to be considered.”
5. Broadway Angels
World-class investors? Check. Leading business executives? Check? Women? Check! The Broadway Angels portfolio includes notables like UrbanSitter and Ellevest. While they don’t solely target female-led startups, they know what it’s like to be the only woman in the room.
6. Women’s Venture Capital Fund
The Women’s Venture Capital Fund is looking to hone in on the untapped market of women-led startups, as they state on their website: “Women are now the biggest emerging market: they control spending, bank accounts and personal wealth in the United States. Yet few women believe existing products and services meet their needs and those of their families. High potential women and their gender-diverse teams are starting scalable businesses in record numbers.” It focuses on digital media (how can women stay more connected?) and sustainability (high-growth opportunities that are also great for the environment) startups.
7. Kapor Capital
Kapor, a fund out of Oakland, is where Ellen Pao has recently landed. It has staked its ground on the idea that diverse teams create breakthrough innovations. And it’s putting its money where its mouth is: More than half of their investments have a female founder, and 42% of first-time investments are female-led.