Summary List Placement
Peter Pham is known as a gifted “hype man” for talking up startups he’s invested in when they need to raise funding.
He’s used to doing it on the dance floor at conferences and over dinner. But in the last year, Pham, a founding partner of VC firm Science, has more often shared upcoming deals with his network of investors over email.
Last month, Science had nine companies in the portfolio that were fundraising. Six of them had female chief execs.
So, Pham sat down at his computer to write an email with a paragraph on each company.
The subject line was: “Science Companies raising. 6 female ceo’s. 3 not 🙂 & a spac in a pear tree.” (The firm had also recently formed its own blank-check company with the goal of buying a private business and taking it public.)
Pham said he emailed 250 investors. Only a handful responded.
He says he was disappointed because lots of investors talk about the need to back more female founders, but they’re not still not writing checks. “It’s all talk,” Pham said in a tweet about the middling response to his email.
In 2020, companies with all-female founders took in 2.4% of all venture capital invested, which is down from 2.5% the year before the pandemic hit, according to deals database PitchBook. For a time, investors told founders they should table their plans to raise funding in a recession, which could help explain the decline in their share of capital.
The numbers were less gloomy when looking at companies with mixed-gender founding teams, PitchBook said.
Still, the data suggest the coronavirus outbreak has had a disproportionate effect on female founders.
A closer look at Science’s portfolio says that doesn’t have to be the case. The firm’s latest and third fund, which closed in 2019, has so far invested in a mix of founders that is 18% white-male founders and 82% underrepresented founders. More than a third of the founders who have raised from that fund are women, according to the firm’s website.
One such founder is Emily Elyse Miller, the breakfast-connoisseur behind OffLimits, which makes cereal with real ingredients. Her company is known for putting cereal’s first female mascot on the box: a bunny-feminista.
Another female founder who’s backed by Science is riding the pandemic tailwinds.
Rachelle Snyder’s company Arrive is about four years old but seems made for life in quarantine. It’s an outdoor gear company that rents stuff you need for camping, hiking, and skiing, like a Rent the Runway for sports equipment. Snyder, who started the company with her husband, has said business is thriving as people escape to the outdoors.
And having a baby hasn’t stopped Snyder from charging ahead.
“She’s just getting it done,” Pham said.
Are you a startups insider with insight to share? Contact Melia Russell via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Signal at (603) 913-3085. Open DMs on Twitter @meliarobin.
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