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The Wing. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for The Wing)
The Wing. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for The Wing)

Wingable

How Women Funders Are Breaking the Male Stranglehold on Startups

By WITW Staff on March 5, 2019

As women entrepreneurs continue to be grossly overlooked in the male-dominated world of venture capital, a growing number of businesswomen are banding together to fund women-founded startups themselves.

In one such January meeting at the Soho, New York location of pioneering women’s co-working club The Wing, 275 women entrepreneurs gathered for a “Wingable” — a women-only pitch night featuring 10 different startups. The event was held in conjunction with Able Partners, a New York venture capital firm founded three years ago by Lisa Blau and Amanda Eilian. All the businesses putting forward pitches at the event had already secured funding from Able, which is known for its early-stage investments in leading women-founded companies — including Goop and The Wing itself.

While Wingable and similar women-focused fundraising efforts are on the rise in recent years, they nonetheless remain an outlier as men continue to attract almost all investment from venture capitalists. Women founders received only 2.2 percent of the $130 billion in venture money raised in the U.S. last year, and just 8 percent of investment partners at the top 100 venture capital firms are women, according to The New York Times.

But a growing number of women are working to change that. Backstage Capital, a venture capital fund founded by once-homeless music manager Arlan Hamilton in 2015, targets businesses from women, people of color, and the LGBT community. The Female Founders Fund, a venture capital firm started by Anu Duggal in 2014 to coordinate investment in women-founded businesses, was itself seeded with money from Blau and other women investors.

At Wingable, business women emphasized the importance of developing women contacts within the industry — and traded stories from their adventures trying to secure investments in what some characterized as a chauvinistic world of male venture capitalists.

“Last year, when I was raising my seed, this guy was like, ‘It must be really difficult for you to raise money, Shannon, because men dissociate intelligence from attractiveness,’” recalled Shannon McLay, 40, the founder of financial coaching center Financial Gym.

“I don’t even care about the harassment,” added entrepreneur Bea Arthur, 35. “It’s just like, if you’re not going to invest, then you’re just wasting my time and trying to hit on me on top of it.”

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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