8 Female Venture Capitalists Who Want to Invest in Women
Women currently make up only 6% of the partners at venture capital firms in the United States. In fact, according to a recent study, 77% of American VC firms admitted that they have never had a female partner. We love learning about female entrepreneurs, but it’s time we take a look at the other side of the table and see who is holding the purse strings that enable companies to succeed. Below, we’ve identified eight women whose unique perspectives, unparalleled business-savvy, and commitment to bringing more women into investing roles is helping our country achieve a stronger, more diverse future. Be inspired by their success, advice, and leadership ahead.
Theresia Gouw Ranzetta began her venture capital career as an entrepreneur working for Release, a software company. She helped the CEO raise three rounds of venture financing before her team sold the company. “The firsthand experience of helping ship the product, sign up the customers, land the big partnership, hire the customer-support person—these were all incredibly relevant to how I work with my companies now,” she tells Marie Claire. She also tells the publication that while most of her investments, like LearnVest, Birchbox, and Glam, are female-founded, that isn’t a must for her. It’s a fact of her investing sectors. “The numbers are pretty clear on the Web that women are 60 to 70 percent of social commerce’s core audience.” Perhaps even more important, “if you look at who is more likely to tweet and share a post, the majority are now women.” Ranzetta loves to pass on her knowledge. “Always go for the opportunity that presents more upside,” she advises. “Which one is going to be more interesting to you six, 12, 24 months from now? Always make sure you’re in a job that you love, because whenever you’re in the position of juggling career and family, you know you’re going to love your kids—give your career a chance.”
Sonja Hoel Perkins is a managing director of Menlo Ventures; founder of Broadway Angels, an angel investment group composed entirely of women; and founder of Project Glimmer, a non-profit that provides holiday gifts to at-risk teenage girls and women in the Bay Area. Perkins, who graduated from Harvard Business School in 1993, was one of the first and only women in venture capital investing back when it was a small cottage industry. She created Broadway Angels as a way to combat years of tech investing being only male. She advises young women who are just starting their professional journey to listen. “Work for the smartest people you can find, and listen,” she tells Worth.
In 2014 Kara Nortman joined Los Angeles–based VC firm Upfront Ventures. Prior to being made a partner at the digital media investor, Nortman earned her stripes at IAC running Urbanspoon, Citysearch, and advising for Tinder. She then founded P.S. XO/Moonfrye, a company devoted to creating products that support the parenting journey by giving families more time to celebrate small moments together. After selling P.S. XO to Seedling in 2014, Nortman switched to the investing side of the table. Nortman told The Los Angeles Times that she has found a plethora of tech-savvy women in L.A. Her hardest challenge isn’t to even the playing field, it’s trying to stay focused when her bright, creative team has so many incredible ideas. Her secret weapon? “My transparency,” she tells Built in Los Angeles. “I try to over-communicate and make everyone feel a part of the company. I try to confront any challenges head on.” We love how Nortman uses her womanhood and the journey of motherhood to be a better investor.
Last year, Huffington Post named Jalak Jobanputra one of their “Trailblazing Women.” The founding partner of Future\Perfect Ventures, an early-stage venture fund in New York City, has such a long list of accomplishments they could take up this entire article. Besides being an investor, Jobanputra serves as a mentor at Techstars NYC, a contributor on BloombergTV, and played a key role in helping to pass the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill. Born in Africa, Jobanputra has a unique competitive advantage thanks to her parents’ status as immigrants. “A characteristic of a good leader is to have empathy: to be able to put yourself in another person’s shoes,” she tells Huffington Post. “There is a compassion/emotional element to [investing] as well as the business/leadership perspective. You will create a better product, [sic] if you can empathize with your customers, you can be a better leader to your employees if you understand what they are going through.” While Jobanputra has built an investment portfolio of 18 companies, she strives to conquer a bigger challenge: leveling the tech playing field for women. “There are other women leaders out there that have had an impact apart from Sheryl Sandberg! We need to make them more visible.” In the VC industry, only 4–6% of general partners are women. Jobanputra believes that there are many more women out who could serve those roles.
Halle Tecco founded Rock Health, the first venture fund dedicated to digital health, about five and half years ago while she was in business school. Her mission has remained consistent: “We want to make healthcare massively better for every human being,” she tells SXSW. Tecco is all about impact and, while not all of her investments are made in female-founded companies, Tecco’s commitment to furthering the success of women in tech and healthcare is evident in her successful portfolio. Rather than take an equity stake in the businesses Rock Health invests in, Tecco gives each company $20,000 and mentorship. “Our internal mantra [at Rock Health], is “to act as an early employee, not as an advisor or mentor. That means getting our hands dirty doing actual work.” That hands-on approach shows. With notable investments like Sessions, a suite of human-centered behavior change programs which was acquired by MyFitnessPal in 2014, and Honor, an app that is changing senior care for the better, Tecco is definitely leaning into a stronger, healthier future.
Elizabeth Galbut co-founded SoGal Ventures, the first female-led millennial venture capital firm, in July of 2015. But her venture capital endeavors began when Galbut was still a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University pursuing her joint MBA and MA. She created A-Level Capital, the first student-led venture capital fund, with two other students and made seven investments in its first year. Galbut is the first to call out her unexpected path to being such a young female venture capitalist. “I realized that successful investors train themselves to understand and value deviation from the norm,” Galbut writes in an article on Medium. Galbut presents her accomplishments and qualifications for being a venture capitalist in a creative, and daring essay entitled “Yes, I’m a 26 y/o Female Venture Capitalist. Here’s How and Why.” One skim through her essay and you’ll understand how this tenacious woman has developed a unique mind for business and a passion for empowering women in the tech investing space.
Kirsten Green is the female investor behind Birchbox, Warby Parker, and Glossier, to name a few. They’re not only some of our favorite brands, those companies are also some of the fastest growing e-commerce sites on the planet, a majority of which were founded by women. Green founded her venture capital firm Forerunner Ventures in 2010. She credits her decade of experience analyzing retail stocks at Montgomery Securities as well as her insight as a female consumer for having such a firm grasp on the booming e-commerce space. “Thriving in this industry has to do with appreciating what you bring to the table,” Green tells Fast Company. Green’s formula for picking exceptional companies has to do with her attention to detail and profound understanding of consumer behavior. “Most things that people want already exist…and there is always someone willing to undercut your price. But what does work is when a company focuses on delivering an amazing experience. This means having a high attention to detail around the product, thinking about how customers feel when they land on the homepage, considering what the package looks like when it arrive in the mail. I’m looking for companies that are set up to win on those levels,” Green tells Fast Company. Emily Weiss describes her connection with Green as immediate. “She treated funding as a collaborative process, and I could tell she was committed to helping me build a brand.” Green is using her feminine perspective and her honed analytical skills to work with entrepreneurs to build e-commerce brands with explosive growth curves.
Kristina Shen made Forbes 30 Under 30 list this year for her work in venture capital. The vice president at Bessemer Venture Partners specializes in investments in cloud-computing, software, mobile, and internet sectors. She also works with Byron Deeter to co-author Bessemer’s State of the Cloud Report, Bessemer’s Cloud Index, and Bessemer’s 10 Laws of the Cloud. By producing these industry-leading insights, Shen is shaping the world’s understanding of cloud computing on a daily basis. Her comprehensive portfolio speaks volumes, especially as she defies the odds as a 29-year-old venture capitalist in Silicon Valley.
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If you had a million dollars to invest in any company in the world, which company would it be?