It's getting harder to raise a Series A round, but you know what? Women--in New York City at least--seem to be getting better at it. And the number of New York women entrepreneurs who raised the next stage of institutional funding--the Series B--more than doubled in 2016.

Those are some of the findings from the latest research conducted by the Female Founders Fund, an early-stage, New York City-based fund that invests only in women entrepreneurs.

Globally, the study found 1,272 A rounds in 2016, with 600 of those going to U.S.-based companies. That's about 10 percent fewer than the year before.

The percentage of those rounds going to female founders is small, but at least it's growing.

  • In New York, 17 percent of all A rounds went to female founders. That works out to 14 companies, compared with 12 last year.
  • In the Bay Area, only about 10 percent of all A rounds went to women-run companies. That's 18 startups.

It's great to see even small increases in the numbers of women who are getting high-growth funding, but still, there's no arguing that the absolute numbers are tiny. As I've said before, you could fit all the female founders who raised A rounds in any city (even the San Francisco area!) at a single dinner party.

Bringing in the bucks

Who are some of the women raising money? There are some interesting companies, and some fairly large early-stage deals, among those who have been successful. Here are 2016's largest A round investments in women-led companies:

  • Rockets of Awesome Led by CEO Rachel Blumenthal, Rockets of Awesome is a kids-clothing subscription service. It raised $12.5 million from August Capital.
  • Ellevest Founded by former Wall Streeter Sallie Krawcheck, Ellevest is an investing and financial advisory platform--better known as a roboadviser--designed especially for women. The company raised $9 million from Aspect Ventures and Khosla Ventures
  • CoheroHealth Co-founded by Melissa Manice, CoheroHealth is a med-tech company focusing on respiratory health. It raised $9 million from Three Leaf Ventures and Zaffre Investments.

Getting bigger all the time

When it comes to the B round, there is no argument that women are doing better raising money. But the numbers are so tiny--even tinier than for the A rounds--that it's hard to call a trend. In New York in 2015, just four women raised a B round. In 2016, nine women managed it. Among those deals are:

  • Glossier Founded by CEO Emily Weiss, Glossier is a cosmetics company that is deeply into social media. It raised $24 million in a deal led by Institutional Venture Partners.
  • Dia&Co Funded by Lydia Gilbert and Nadia Boujarwah, Dia&Co is a subscription clothing and styling service for plus-size women. It raised $20 million in a deal led by Sequoia.
  • The Muse Founded by women is led by CEO Kathryn Minshew, the Muse is a career site for Millennials. It raised $16 million in a deal led by Icon Ventures and Aspect Ventures. (Minshew is a columnist and the Muse is a content partner of the site.)

Of the companies listed above, Female Founders Fund was an investor in Rockets of Awesome, and also was an early investor in three of the female-led companies that went on to raise A rounds. It's also interesting to note that Aspect Ventures, a fund founded by two female venture capitalists, invested in two of the deals listed above.

Published on: Feb 2, 2017