Anu Duggal: Women-Led Startup Funding Moving In The Right Direction, But Long Way To Go

By Amit Chowdhry • Dec 16, 2019
  • Venture capitalist Anu Duggal launched the Female Founders Fund several years ago and discussed the progress that has been made since then

It has long been known that women-led startups receive a small percentage of venture capital funding. The good news is that investments in women-led startups are higher than it is before.

According to Pitchbook, women-led businesses make up 20% of VC-backed companies and raised $46.3 billion in capital last year. This is more than twice the $22 billion that female entrepreneurs raised the year before and 15 times the $3 billion raised in 2010.

Even though this is a positive trend, women are still tremendously underrepresented as venture-backed entrepreneurs and venture capitalists as well. Venture capitalists are 88% men. And make venture capitalists tend to be biassed towards businesses run by men.

There are a number of successful women-led businesses that hit unicorn status this year such as The Real Real, Glossier, Away, and Rent The Runway. And women-led businesses that have exited by going public or selling to a larger company has been doing it in 6 years on average compared to 7.4 years for men.

Venture capitalist Anu Duggal launched the Female Founders Fund several years ago and pointed out that 18 women-led startups in New York raised a Series A round of funding compared to just 1 in 2013. Duggal was also interviewed on “Bloomberg Daybreak: Americas” recently where she discussed the trend.

“I believe what we have focused on is really outcomes. And if you look 2019 in NYC, for the first time ever we have seen three female-founded unicorns so I think the idea is that this is not impact investing, this is the future. And if you’re not paying attention, you’re missing out on potential great returns,” replied Duggal after being asked whether investing in women-led businesses is for impact investing or whether it is a smart investment.

Duggal was also asked why it is harder for women to get their foot in the door with venture capitalists in Silicon Valley.

“I have a slightly different point-of-view. I started the fund now about seven years ago. And if you look at how the landscape has evolved, almost all of the large venture capital funds we know and respect now have their first… if not second female partner so I think that it’s largely been an issue of networks,” explained Duggal during the interview. “And I think that what we’re seeing that slowly changing. And there’s a long way to go, but I think that things are definitely moving in the right direction.”

What are some of the investments Duggal’s venture firm made? 

“One is a company called Maven Clinic. Maven is a digital healthcare platform for women’s health offering large enterprises the benefit of helping pregnant women throughout their pregnancy by giving them access to telehealth practitioners,” said Duggal via Bloomberg. “So we invested in Maven pre-launch. And CEO Katherine Ryder has really done an amazing job of defining the fact that women control a massive spend in healthcare. And they are in charge of many decisions. So they need healthcare products that really focus on them as the end-user.”