We’ll #StartWithEight But We’ll Do It Every Month (As We Have Since Our Founding)
By David Butler, co-founder of Be Curious Partners
On the heels of International Women’s Day and in light of the growing movement by VCs to commit to meeting with more female-founded companies, we are happy to see this progress, but we must push it even further.
We applaud and support our fellow VCs who are committing to the #StartWithEight movement of meeting with at least eight women outside their network in March, coinciding with Women’s History Month, but perhaps we commit to these efforts bigger. Perhaps it’s not ‘start with eight’ but let’s commit to at least eight, and not one month, but why not every month?
Which is why we’re declaring and promising to do that: Through the remainder of 2018 and as long as we’re investing and looking at deal flow, Be Curious Partners will continue to meet with at least eight female founders and leaders every month. Because it’s a step in a much needed direction, but it’s also a step in a heavier ROI direction.
As one of, if not the only, VCs investing in the parenting space, one of the great benefits of this category is that women tend to over-index in founding or top executives positions. Within our portfolio, all companies we’ve invested in are either founded by women or have women in leadership roles. That’s not a part of our investment consideration, but it’s a proxy of the hypothesis and is one of the reasons we’re so bullishly leaning into the parenting space.
In January, my co-founder Ross Kimbel and an associate were in San Francisco meeting with potential investment opportunities and in the course of one day, they met with nine companies, eight of which were founded and run by women. Since then, of the companies that have come through our pipeline, over 80% are female-founded.
There are cases when people react to our fund’s hypothesis in tech-enabled parenting, and they often miss the point of what a huge opportunity this space and its leadership beholds. At first blush it may not appear to be as exciting as other categories, but when you marry consumer trends and spending power, it’s impossible to not see the business upside. And same is true with investing in and supporting more women as they launch and grow companies.
Despite the fact that female-founded companies only received about 2.2% of the $85 billion total invested by VCs in 2017, there are reports that suggest companies run and founded by women outperform others and deliver a higher ROI for investors.
In a 2015 report, First Round Capital shared that the female-founded companies in its portfolio outperformed male-founded companies by 63%, as measured by returns for investors. A Harvard Business Review article from September 2017, called “The Comprehensive Case for Investing More VC Money in Women-Led Startups,” reported a finding from the Small Business Association that VCs that invested in female-led businesses saw an improvement in their fund’s performance.
So for these reasons along with the many others, Be Curious Partners will both sign on the #StartWithEight pledge but will carry it further and not limit those meetings to a singular month, but to its entire existence.