If you are looking to invest in venture managers who are women, you have come to the right place. Venture Capital Journal has compiled an exclusive list of more than 100 women-led funds launched since the start of last year.
We started our research project after noticing what appeared to be an uptick in announcements of new funds led by women. We analyzed press releases, news reports and US regulatory filings to compile data on all the women-led venture funds that have raised capital from January 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023. We are defining a women-led firm as one in which at least half of the founding team members are women.
Our analysis found a total of 102 women-led firms have raised a combined $5 billion since the start of 2022. Most of the funds (65) filed paperwork with the SEC or held a partial or full close this year, while 37 did so in 2022.
Readers should note that just 69 of the funds have publicly disclosed a dollar amount, and that amount may represent a partial or final close. The average size of those 69 funds was $73 million, with a median fund size of $17 million.
Of the 37 funds that filed or held a close in 2022, 19 disclosed their fundraising amount, which totaled just over $2.2 billion for all those funds combined. The median size of the 19 funds was $11.94 million, while the average fund was $116.7 million, skewed by the $1 billion Kirsten Green and her team raised for Forerunner Ventures fourth flagship fund and the $1.5 billion raised by Katie Haun for a seed fund and growth fund for her Haun Ventures.
Our research found that women-led funds as a group make up a tiny portion of overall fundraising. They accounted for 1.3 percent of the $165.9 billion that VC funds raised globally last year, according to VCJ research. The average women-led fund was also less than half the size of the overall average of $244 million.
Of the 65 funds that have filed or held a close in the first six months of this year, 50 disclosed a dollar amount. As a group, they raised a combined $2.8 billion. The average size of this year’s funds is $56 million, and the median is $20 million.
While information on LPs is scarce, we found that Bank of America was the most active investor among the firms we analyzed, committing to eight of the 15 funds in which we identified at least one LP. BofA announced in January 2021 that it would commit $150 million over four years to funds that invest in underrepresented founders, such as women and people of color.
Funds on our list backed by BofA include Buoyant Ventures, Cake Ventures, Capitalize VC, Human Ventures, New Community Transformation Fund – Denver, Springbank Collective and Red Bike Capital.
The vast majority (83 percent) of the firms on our list invest in early-stage companies, which likely factors into their relatively small fund sizes. The second most popular stage was seed, at just over 60 percent, followed by later-stage, at about 39 percent. (The total equals more than 100 percent because most firms invest at multiple stages.) Four firms invest at the pre-seed stage, while five invest in growth-stage deals. One of the firms, Heretic Ventures, operates as an accelerator and incubator, while three firms said they are stage-agnostic.
The sector in which most women-led funds invest is software. Half of the firms mention some variation of software in their investment focus, including SaaS, enterprise software, EdTech, Fintech and the Internet of Things. Nearly four out of 10 firms (35 percent) invest in some form of hardware technology, while healthcare-related sectors including health tech, life sciences and biotechnology rank as the third-most targeted industry (24 of the 84 firms).
A few of the firms on our list stood out for their narrow focus:
- Monarch Collective, a sector-agnostic venture firm based in Los Angeles, invests in women’s sports franchises, teams and adjacent rights-based businesses. Co-founders Kara Nortman and Jasmine Robinson recently raised $100 million for their debut fund from LPs including tennis legend Billie Jean King, as VCJ previously reported.
- Vice Ventures, an early-stage investor based in Brooklyn, invests in what it calls “superficially bad” industries, including cannabis, psychedelics, sex tech, sports betting and ketamine. Vice raised $25 million for its sophomore fund as founder Catharine Dockery seeks to capitalize on the human tendency to turn to vices during economic downturns. (Read our prior coverage of Vice here.)
- First Bight Ventures, an early-stage firm based in Houston, invests exclusively in synthetic biology start-ups. According to the firm’s most recent filing in February 2022, founder Veronica Wu, a former executive for Apple and Tesla, has raised $9.65 million of her debut fund’s $80 million target. (Read more about First Bight here.)