Women continue to change the world, including the venture capital industry. In 2019, the number of firms with two or more female partners doubled to 14%, suggesting that women are becoming more and more centered in this financial playing field. Here’s a look into some of the influential women filling these seats and how they began their careers in the world of investments.
Sarah Kunst, Cleo Capital
Sarah Kunst is a data-driven angel investor that focuses on closing the gender gap in venture capital. She is the Managing Director of Cleo Capital, a venture capital firm focused on women in entrepreneurship. Sarah started her career working with major brands like Apple, Red Bull, Chanel, Mohr Davidow Ventures, and Sequoia Capital.
In 2019 Cleo Capital closed a fund at $3.5 million. Kunst scouted leaders of women-owned companies like co-founders Molly Chen and Melody McCloskey of Birchbox. When she interviewed with Marie Claire, Kunst said, “There’s a lot of data that shows that when women invest, you make more money. So I’m going to go out and focus on women who have access to really interesting investments, but don’t have money to fund them themselves.”
Gillian Munson, Union Square Ventures
A partner at one of the world’s largest private equity firms, Gillian Munson brings her multifaceted strengths to the table acting as both investor and operator of this major firm. She runs the firm from an operational standpoint while also pinpointing prospective early-stage tech companies to help fund growth. Prior to Union Square, Munson was the CFO of The Knot’s parent company, XO Group, exiting in 2018. Her background is rich in financial management and includes roles as an equity analyst, M&A leader, banker and early-stage investor.
Trish Costello, Portfolia
When Trish Costello founded Portfolia, her main objective was to position women with capital as investors of companies they believe in around the world. Portfolia has since grown to 10 funds with 44 investments in 33 companies.
The U.S. big tech and innovation industry's leading contributors are entrepreneurs. However, with only 5% of investment professionals represented in venture capital, Costello saw an opportunity to increase the disparity of women in the industry. Understanding this fact helped inspire Costello to create an opportunity to increase women's disparity in venture capital. Her extensive background includes leading the Kauffman Fellows Program, serving as Founding President of CVE Capital Corps, and mentorship in the venture capitalism industry.
Arione Simone, Fearless Fund
President and Chief Executive Officer, Arione Simone, kicked off her investing career in 2010 to inspire entrepreneurial women. Receiving her MBA from Florida State A&M, Simone is a serial entrepreneur, philanthropist, angel investor, author, and a PR & marketing specialist.
She founded the Fearless Magazine platform, and then teamed up with Keisha Knight Pulliam to invest in early stage, minority- and women-owned businesses. Together, their unique niche in entertainment affords them the opportunity to connect startups with celebrities for investments opportunities and business growth. The Fearless Fund has also fostered strong relationships with big companies such as Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, and Walt Disney Pictures.
Aileen Lee, Cowboy Ventures
Aileen Lee is the founder of Cowboy Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on investing in seed and startup tech companies that reimagine work and personal life and build brands that people love. With degrees from MIT and Harvard, she was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in 2019. Some of Cowboy Ventures’ notable investments include Dollar Shave Club, Crunchbase, and Textio.
While the venture capital ecosystem may still be a somewhat closed network, women are making an impact and entering the industry with a strong platform. Historically known as a male-dominant industry, women have stepped into key roles that drive significant growth in both fund level investments and entrepreneurial companies.
Valley Growth Ventures (VGV) is excited to formally announce our first fund exit with the acquisition of our portfolio company MedPilot merging with New Jersey-based medical technology company Vytalize Health.
Who We Are
Valley Growth Ventures (VGV) is a $6 million "micro" venture capital investment fund created to support high-growth, early-stage companies across the state of Ohio, with a preference for those in the Mahoning Valley. Founded as a strategic collaboration between five regional Mahoning Valley organizations, VGV serves to aid in the growth of companies across Ohio, but particularly to those in the Valley. The Fund leverages the industry expertise, personnel, facilities, talent network, and operations of its investment team and partner organizations to produce high-growth companies and generate substantial returns for investors.
While details of the merger have not been made public, the transaction was finalized on Tuesday, March 9. The acquisition will increase Vytalize Health’s capacity to serve its growing Medicare population by enhancing its infrastructure for Medicare's Direct Contracting program. MedPilot will primarily serve to provide patient engagement solutions for the company’s vertically integrated care delivery system.
MedPilot has helped over 1 million patients and demonstrated a 97% patient satisfaction score. MedPilot's proprietary engagement engine personalizes outreach based on various patient characteristics and then uses machine learning to optimize communications between the healthcare provider and patient.
Since VGV’s initial investment in 2018, the fund has supported MedPilot’s strategic efforts and development by assisting the technology company with customer and partner introductions, marketing support, and business guidance.
"Valley Growth Ventures is very excited for this transaction. It has been a pleasure to work with the MedPilot team as an investor, but also to serve on the company's Board of Directors. This is the first exit for the fund which is a significant milestone. We look forward to the great things the combined company can accomplish,” said Ernie Knight, Managing Director of VGV.
VGV was also instrumental in the coordination between MedPilot and Youngstown-based GBS Corporation (GBS), which become a key customer and partner with the company and is also an investor in the fund. GBS is also excited about the merger.
GBS Vice President of Strategy says “GBS Corp has been engaged with MedPilot, as a founding member of Valley Growth Ventures since the initial investment, and as a client through the development of their product offerings. We believe digital engagement and direct-to-patient communication represents the next frontier for healthcare service providers to interact with patients and provide easily accessible information and support. We were fortunate to participate in the funding round when Valley Growth Ventures recognized this evolving segment and look forward to expanding the impact of MedPilot’s dynamic tools as an enduring client in the future.”
Read the full article via The Business Journal here.
Year over year, Ohio’s startup businesses continue to expand rapidly throughout the state—especially in technology. In today’s day and age, simplicity is key when it comes to customers and businesses adopting technology. The platforms must be seamless and adaptable—that’s where SaaS comes in.
What exactly is SaaS?
SaaS, or Software as a Service, is software housed on an external service (or, over the internet) and provided to customers through a licensed, subscription-based model. Some common examples of SaaS companies and products are Cisco WebEx Meetings, Box, Inc., and Salesforce.
Founded in Dayton, Ohio, Carely provides caregivers and families digital tools to better communicate and provide for loved ones through their platform. The goal of Carely’s software service is to simplify care communication and coordination and provide support throughout the caregiving journey. In 2020, Carely acquired caregiving.org, an online community for family caregivers, expanding their product and entering into a new phase of growth. So, what can we learn from Carely? Technology is adaptable in almost any type of business, and can seamlessly provide connectivity.
DataRobot + Nexosis
Enterprise AI leader, Nexosis, was founded in 2015 in Columbus, Ohio. Nexosis provides developers with API access to their platform in order to build more robust solutions. Their cloud products can be applied to almost any industry, including banking, oil and gas, insurance, marketing, and telecommunications. In 2018, DataRobot and Nexosis joined forces to harness their powers in AI machine learning. What is their secret to SaaS? Get machine learning in the hands of different types of users.
Segmint of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio offers a marketing automation solution to help companies make data-driven decisions and convert potential clients. They partner and integrate with over 80% of the financial market, with partners including FIS, CIS, and Fiserve. Their point of differentiation in the SaaS market is simple: use data analytics to tell real stories.
Innago, located in the Cincinnati area, is an automated property management software that simplifies the business of rental properties for landlords. Users can manage their tenant accounts and incoming maintenance requests while utilizing Innago’s accessible security and support team through the platform. Their trick to the trade? Help users put their tedious tasks on autopilot using SaaS.
Popcom, founded in Columbus, creates software to help build intelligent brands. Their automated system helps retail clients learn exactly who they’re serving. So, how do they do it? Popcom equips entrepreneurs and brands with retail solutions that allow rapid expansion, excellent customer experiences, and useful sales data.
Ohio continues to lead in business growth, especially in SaaS. With these key tips, you can learn from some of the startups located in the Buckeye state, and entrepreneurs can feel confident they’ll provide a service that is necessary to the rapidly evolving tech field.