It’s no secret that female founders have a tougher time raising capital than their male counterparts. After all, only ~2% of venture capital dollars go to women. So what’s the deal?
Part of the problem is believed to be a lack of female representation within VC firms. Indeed, only ~8% of partners at the top 100 VC firms are women. So for today’s blog post, we thought we’d interview one of these women!
Victoria Grace is a founding partner of Colle Capital: an early-stage VC firm based in New York City, and the fund that led Allergy Amulet’s first equity financing!
How long have you been an investor, and what inspired you to pursue this career path?
I’ve been an investor for a little over 20 years. I was drawn to the start-up space because I love learning about new technologies and really enjoy working with the people that are pioneering the ideas of the future. These entrepreneurs are developing solutions for some of the world’s biggest problems. In my line of work, I’m always learning something new, which makes my job a real joy.
How has the investing landscape changed for women since you first got into the business?
There’s a lot of talk lately around gender parity in the investment space, but I’m still usually the only woman at board meetings. I think change is happening, but slowly.
More recently, I’ve noticed a growing number of funds focused exclusively on backing female founders, but these are basically micro funds—the check sizes are usually on par with angel groups. One promising trend I’ve also noticed in the past few years is an uptick in the number of female founders we see pitching us.
What is your advice for female entrepreneurs trying to raise capital?
Surround yourself with a strong support network—people that lift you up and cheer you on. Seek out other female founders too, because they will appreciate the hustle, and can be a great support system when raising capital.
I think the same core advice holds for both men and women: do your research and make sure you’re approaching the right funds. Do they invest in your space? Is their average check size in line with your ask? Don’t just approach anyone that writes a check. You can waste a lot of time that way, and time is your most valuable resource as a start-up.
What “ingredients” have you seen that make for a successful start-up?
Stamina is essential. Starting a company takes a huge amount of hustle, so we look for founders that have demonstrated they can hack it. We also look for teams that have complimentary skill sets—this helps companies stay nimble and pivot, if necessary.
How many of your portfolio companies have female founders?
Approximately 1/3 of our portfolio companies have either women or minority founders. That wasn’t intentional—we don’t have diversity parameters or quotas we try to satisfy. We look for exceptional teams with compelling ideas and large market opportunities.
Why did you invest in Allergy Amulet?
We invested in Allergy Amulet because they have a compelling technology, a huge market opportunity, and a strong founding team. Food allergies are on the rise, and the medical community is calling it an epidemic. As part of diligence on the deal we spoke to allergists, scientists, and the food allergy community—we saw resounding support for the concept and technology, and the founding team had personal experience with the pain point. Their company checked all of the boxes that we look for with our investments.
Victoria Grace is a Founding Partner of Colle Capital Partners LP, an early stage technology venture fund. Previously, she was a Partner at Wall Street Technology Partners LP, a $125M mid-stage technology fund. Victoria has over 20 years of experience in venture capital and finance, and has made investments in a broad range of companies, including enterprise software, wireless technologies, medical devices, health IT, fintech, hardware, virtual reality, and D2C retail companies.