Female Founders Fund closes $57 million funding round, backers include Goldman Sachs and Melinda French Gates
Female Founders Fund, an early-stage venture fund that invests in female-founded companies, announced today that it has just closed on its third round of funding for $57 million, bringing its total amount of assets under management to more than $95 million.
In addition to power players like Goldman Sachs, Melinda French Gates' Pivotal Ventures company and Twitter investing in the fund, FFF also received investments from tech leaders like YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, 23andMe CEO Annie Wojcicki and Houseparty CEO Sima Sistani.
"From day one, we have really focused on building the largest and most powerful community of female operators and investors," FFF Founding Partner Anu Duggal tells CNBC Make It. "When I started the fund in 2014, I went to a tech event in New York City and everyone pretty much looked the same. There was no diversity. And so, we've always wanted to play a role in creating a new type of ecosystem that celebrates women."
With this new investment, FFF reports that it now has the largest fund of seed capital geared specifically toward female entrepreneurs.
"This fund is actually a continuation of our existing strategy," says Duggal, who explains that FFF has raised three funds so far including its first one for $6 million and a second one for $25 million. "So the big shift in this [third] fund is really the check size. So our average check size is going up from $500,000-$700,000 to $750,000- $1,000,000."
Since its inception in 2014, FFF has invested in more than 50 women-led companies, with over 70% of its portfolio including BIPOC founders. The closing of this new fund, Duggal says, comes at a perfect time as female founders continue to face challenges with receiving investments, especially amid the pandemic.
In 2019, start-ups with all-female founders received 3.4% of venture capital funding in the U.S., an all-time high, reports Crunchbase. In 2020, that number declined to 2.4%. And as of March 2021, that number had remained the same, according to Crunchbase.
"I firmly believe we are missing out on transformational ideas by not putting resources behind women," Gates said in a statement. "I've invested in the Female Founders Fund because we need women founders and funders at the table if we want to build a more prosperous and inclusive economy for everyone. New and innovative ideas come from everywhere; we can't keep looking in the same old packages."
With this new fund, Duggal says FFF hopes to not only increase the amount of investments in women entrepreneurs, but it also hopes to continue counseling female founders on business strategy shifts due to the pandemic, as well as providing them with the necessary networking opportunities and platforms to thrive.
"The investment and business community have been discussing the importance of investing in female-led businesses for years, and today, it has never been more relevant," Duggal says. "Our objective with this new fund is to continue to demonstrate that it is possible to achieve top-tier returns by investing in companies started by women with the larger goal of pushing the investor ecosystem forward in their approach towards investing in women by demonstrating strong returns."
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