Vinetta Project drives investment toward female-owned companies

Despite research showing female-run startups net significantly better revenue than male-run startups, many investors are still reluctant to fund them.

Women across the entrepreneurial community are coming together to solve this funding gap and the Vinetta Project is one possible solution.

“Only about three percent of venture capital goes to female founders,” D.C. chapter co-director Amelia Friedman said. “We work really hard to make sure that these awesome female founders get the same access to capital that men have traditionally had access to.”

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That gap in funding exists due to problems with pattern recognition, according to Vinetta D.C. co-director, Anna Mason.

“You’ve got your Mark Zuckerberg in a hoodie. So people say, ‘oh, I’m not too sure about this company, but this guy looks like Mark Zuckerberg’,” she said, adding that the rarity of female founders in previous generations gives investors a bias towards funding male founders disproportionately.

When investors see a female founder, they hesitate, because “this founder doesn’t look like, sound like, act like, someone that I’ve invested in before,” said Mason. “We really try to help and break down some of those barriers around bias and perception.”

Currently, Vinetta is popular in the D.C. region across a wide range of industries.

“In 2016, we had close to 100 applicants who applied for our pitch competition locally here, just in the DMV area, that spanned across more than 20 industries,” Mason told What’s Working in Washington.

Vinetta D.C.’s popularity is fueled by the experience of its co-directors.

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“I am co-founder of a local tech startup called Hatch, and Anna is an investor with Revolution,” said Friedman. “The two of us together approach this work from very different perspectives.”

“Our community is a community that, in order to be effective, and in order to direct dollars from the investment community to the founder community, we need to understand, represent, and bring together members of both,” she said.

For an example of this mission is the recently-launched venture committee, run by Anna Mason.

“Now, every application for Vinetta is reviewed by members from 16 different venture funds and angel groups. So if you apply for Vinetta, your value proposition, your team, all that information on your revenue and everything that you’ve built is being reviewed by all these investors,” said Friedman.

Female innovators tap into Vinetta’s resources by attending the group’s events.

“I think what you’ll find is that we work really hard to bring together the right mix of people,” said Mason. “Our pitch and panel showcase events typically have over 50 percent founders who attend, [and] at least 30 percent investors.”