RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Across the board, 2018 has been a good year for startups raising capital from Venture Capital funds and funding to women-led startups has followed the national trends too … until this quarter.
Funding raised by startups with at least one female founder accounted for 12.5 percent of all capital raised in 2Q and 15 percent in all of 2017. So far in 3Q, female-led startups have raised nearly double that, with 29 percent of all funding raised going to female-led startups. The quarter is still young, so the high share for women-led startups could be an anomaly, or it could be the beginning of a trend.
This trend doesn’t hold in North Carolina, however.
According to data from the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), ten North Carolina-based, female-founded startups have raised a total of $100.33 million in 2018. None of the raises have occurred in 3Q though. The latest was in April, according to the data, although Vital Plan, co-founded by a father and daughter team, where the daughter is CEO, did post a $1.1 million raise in August unreported in the data.
Instead, North Carolina’s women-led startups have commanded a share of the total amount raised in the state more like typical quarters and years. So far, funding to them has accounted for 12 percent of the total funding raised by NC companies according to NVCA data.
The same is true of the share of the total number of deals NC’s female-founded companies made. The Venture Capital deals made by companies founded by at least one woman account for 13 percent of 2018’s Venture Capital deals to date. This figure is only a few percentage points behind the typical share. The highest share they’ve accounted for in the past five years is 17 percent in 2015.
The sharp national uptick in funding to women-led startups is also due to a handful of large raises by mostly late-stage companies. The five raises cited by Pitchbook total $546.5 million, and were all follow-on rounds except for one Series A round. Three of the five companies were based in Silicon Valley with the exceptions being Class Pass which is based in New York and Guild Education which is based in Denver.
Meanwhile, initial analysis of the Council for Entrepreneurial Development’s data, shows that just 10 percent of fundraising events have been by female CEOs according to the Connections to Capital Manager, Hunter Young. While it will continue to collect and compile these figures, Young says CED believes it’s important to compare apples to apples and ask the right questions when analyzing the data. He says, “For example, are there fewer capital raises by female CEOs because there are fewer female CEOs altogether? Or of all female CEOs, is the percentage that are being funded on the rise?”
David Gardner, General Partner of Cofounders Capital, who specializes in early-stage investments, says he saw the same funding trends in their early stage fund as born out in the national statistics. He says Cofounders Capital receives significantly fewer pitches from female entrepreneurs, and speculates it could be a result of their fund being reserved for B2B focused startups, leaving out B2C focused startups that could attract more women. He says, “Regardless, the fact remains that women are certainly under represented.”
Tim McLoughlin of Partner at Cofounders Capital says, “I believe that the jumps in closing the gender funding gap will have a bit of a lag and be cyclical, because as more serially successful female founders exit companies they will be able to quickly raise funding for their new ventures.” He posits that dedicated programs and events supporting female entrepreneurs and closing the funding gap for women like NC IDEA’s SOAR, Women’s Innovator’s Day and Collective Hustle, have and will continue to change the narrative for female entrepreneurs.
It’s still early in the quarter though. With at least a month and a half to go, NC’s female founded companies may follow the upward national trend and earn more capital investments than seen in years past. Or the national figures could drop to typical figures. Either way, it’s too early to tell what the final share of the invested venture capital female founded companies receive.
2018’s VC Investments in Female Founded and Led NC Companies
While ten NC startups founded by at least one woman have raised funding in 2018, just five of them currently have a female CEO. The NVCA distinguishes between these two types of companies in their data collection—those founded by women and currently under female leadership are delineated from those founded by women but currently under male leadership. The NVCA dataset includes a list of all the investments made to NC’s female founded, women-led companies since 2006.
According to the data, the five female founded and led NC startups who have raised funding in 2018 are:
- Humacyte, the Durham-based pharmaceutical company specialized in developing the technology to create bioengineered blood vessels and other human tissue replacements founded by Dr. Laura Niklason, has raised a total of $225 million in 2018 so far. Their first raise was a Series C round of $75 million in March. Then in June, the company raised another $150 million equity investment through a partnership with Fresenius Medical Care. NVCA did not report the $150 million equity investment in their data as the data list does not include corporate rounds.
- Fathom AI (formerly BioMetrix), the Durham-based creator of a wearable AI platform designed to tailor athletic training to an individual’s biomechanical needs, raised $3.1 million in April. The startup was co-founded by a pair of former Duke athletes, Ivonna Dumanyan and Gabrielle Levac.
- Vital Plan, the herbal supplement company based in Cary and co-founded by Braden Rawls raised $250,000 from Angel investors in April and then $1.1 million in August, which wasn’t reflected in the NVCA data.
- Myxx, the startup behind omni-channel marketing platform that simplifies the grocery shopping experience, founded by Monica Wood raised an undisclosed amount through a bridge round in the form of a convertible note in late 2017/early 2018.
- Skipper (formerly Waggle), the Charlotte-based on-demand pet care services startup, co-founded by Meggie Williams and Sebastian Williams has raised two seed investments so far in 2018. In February, Charlotte Angel Fund led a $750,000 seed investment. In April, they raised another $150,000 for a total of $900,000 raised this year.
Editor’s note: This story was published earlier with an incorrect byline. WRAL TechWire contributing writer Amy Huffman researched and wrote the report.