Women make up less than 5% of all venture capitalists in the country.
That statistic alone is enough to make anyone pause. But a new group is looking to build community and create opportunities for women check writers and fund managers in the Southeast region.
WISE (Women Investors in the Southeast) is set to have its first virtual meeting on June 15.
For Kelly Reeser, Managing Director at TechFarms Capital and one of the leaders behind the new group, it is about “strengthening networks for those who have not historically had a place in venture.”
“Equity ownership is what creates wealth in our economy. When females don’t own equity stakes in companies, then they are left out of true wealth-building opportunities,” Reeser added.
The idea for WISE was born out of Build in SE’s collaborative effort with Embarc Collective and Miami Angels to create the first comprehensive directory of Southeast-based investors. “Our goal with the directory is to bring visibility to the growing number of women investors based in the Southeast. Otherwise, it is incredibly hard for founders to identify who’s actually investing and who’s writing checks,” added Monique Villa, Nashville-based investor at Mucker Capital and co-founder of Build in SE.
The Directory has so far found 80 women investors in the region, with a goal of reaching 100 by the end of 2021.
What WISE will look like
The invite-only deal flow network is designed to help connect women at all stages of their VC careers. While the group and the format of the meeting may fluctuate as the needs of the group evolve, Villa added that the group is primarily designed to help find co-investing opportunities. “As we grow, we’re also anticipating that founders might approach the group to submit their company for potential investment, perhaps with an interest to add women investors to their cap tables and boards,” added Villa.
“We need to just be intentional about the relationship building so that when we get presented with opportunities to participate in the best deals, we’re then willing and open to share those with others in the network,” Reeser added.
Women investors who are not currently on the list are encouraged to check out this form for more information.
While there are only 80 women investors today, Villa told Hypepotamus she is energized as the state of venture capital continues to transform.
“The thing that makes me hopeful is the fact that I look around and I see more and more women who are doing this work, who are getting leadership positions at major firms, and who are starting new firms,” she added.
Featured Image: Build In SE, The JumpFund & LaunchTN co-hosted the Second Annual Comfort Food & Conversation dinner for women investors and startup founders at Husk Nashville during the 36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival in Nashville, TN (August 2019)