The Sybilla Masters Fund proves the venture funding game continues to change.
Gillian Muessig, an investor and tech executive who co-founded Moz, announced the new venture capital fund at the Women in Cloud Summit held at Microsoft’s campus in Redmond, WA.
The fund is named after a Colonial American inventor who was the first person residing in the American colonies to receive an English patent and possibly the first known female inventor in America. Her patent for a corn mill, however, was given in her husband’s name, as women were not allowed to have patents in 1715.
The Sybilla Masters Fund will focus on funding companies with at least one woman on the founding team. Alka Badshah, a veteran of Microsoft, and Anne Kennedy, the President of Outline Venture Group, are founding investors and will serve as advisors. The fund will officially launch when it reaches $2 million, with an ultimate goal of raising $100 million.
The purpose of the Sybilla Masters Fund is to create an opportunity for gender lens investing – which doesn’t mean it will only invest in female founders. Muessig has said it’s about looking at a company and seeing how it affects all genders and asking whether it promotes the idea that all genders working together produces a better outcome.
Gender lens investing might not be a new concept but it’s an increasingly popular investment strategy. It’s also easy to see why such a fund is important: 80% to 90% of venture capital investments go to entirely male-led companies. Startups with just one female leader see their chances of securing early capital radically decrease. The main idea behind gender lens investing, or gender-based investing, is that funding women-led companies can lead to both financial and social impact. It’s important to remember that the “lens” is not a limitation – it’s simply another means of helping investors see opportunity and mitigate risk while promoting equality.
Studies suggest companies with women in board seats or senior leadership perform better in terms of profitability, sales, and invested capital. Other research shows women on executive boards tend to expand the type of knowledge and skills of those boards. Putting even more women in board and key leadership positions will not only further organizational success, but our economic progress as a whole.