Early-stage enterprise investor Emergence Capital, which typically promotes from within, has promoted Lotti Siniscalco to partner and Yaz El-Baba to senior associate.
The moves are the firm’s first promotions since it announced in May that it had raised $950 million for two funds.
The Italian-born Siniscalco joined the firm in 2018 and was named principal about a year ago. El-Baba, a Palestinian-American, joined the firm as an associate in 2019.
Their promotions come a day after the firm led a $17 million Series A deal in Talent Hack, a New York-based platform for fitness and wellness professionals. Talent Hack is led by founder and chief executive Alexandra Bonetti, a Latina.
Emergence general partner Santi Subotovsky has joined the board of Talent Hack as part of the firm’s investment. But Siniscalco told Venture Capital Journal that El-Baba helped source the deal and showed it to her.
“He knew how excited I am about working with female founders,” she said.
In her due diligence of the company, Siniscalco noted that since she gave birth to a son at the onset of the pandemic last year, she had became more aware of the need for this type of industry to connect customers with fitness and wellness experts. “One of the few things that kept me going in the pandemic during those early months were my workouts, which started off in-person, but then moved to virtual,” Siniscalco said.
She also noted that the founder, Bonetti, ran her own fitness studios for eight years and “she is an immigrant, a mom like me, and she has an accent like me,” Siniscalco said. “And I just saw the vision of what she was building towards and it was really exciting to partner with her to help her build it out.”
There aren’t a lot of venture-backed female founders in tech, but the numbers have grown over the years.
As PitchBook reported last month, although venture funding overall has surged in recent years, the numbers haven’t leapt forward for female founders at the same pace. Last year, companies founded solely by women garnered just 2.2 percent of the total capital invested in venture-backed start-ups in the US.
But Siniscalco said she’s encouraged by Bonetti at Talent Hack, as well as other female Emergence portfolio company entrepreneurs, such a Michele Romanow, co-founder and president of Clearco, and Melissa Wong, chief executive and co-founder of Retail Zipline.
“So far, 2021 feels like an encouraging year for women founders starting businesses and raising VC,” Siniscalco said. “The work has been going on for a long time, but we’re seeing the fruits of the labor towards VC funding for women entrepreneurs.”
Siniscalco also noted how the firm organizes small networking events for early-stage founders once a quarter, called Female Founder Roundtables, which lately have been virtual and are open to prospective companies at the seed stage.
The objective is to give them tools, resources and knowledge to help them succeed, Siniscalco said. “The events are targeting women who haven’t even started companies yet to kind of encourage them to do so. This is typically the type of learning that’s not available to women. And so I’m trying to foster a community where those learnings are continuously shared.”