New research from Female Founders Fund confirms a trend that first popped up about six months ago: Relative to women entrepreneurs raising money in other parts of the country, women in New York are killing it. Women in Los Angeles are doing well, too, even though the amount of financing that took place there is much smaller.

  • Female founders raised 14 percent of all A rounds (the first institutional financing after a seed round) in New York in 2015, about even with 2014.
  • Female founders raised 13 percent of all A rounds in Los Angeles in 2015. That's about the same percentage as in the prior year, but the number of A rounds raised overall in LA has doubled in that time.
  • Female founders raised 8 percent of all A rounds in the Bay Area in 2015. That's a 30 percent drop from 2014.

Even at New York's 14 percent figure, we're still not talking about a lot of women. If the club of entrepreneurs that raises venture capital is exclusive, the group of women who manage to do the same is more rarified still. In New York, that 14 percent of A rounds awarded to female founders works out to a whopping 13 women-led companies. In Los Angeles, five women-led teams raised A rounds. In the Bay Area, we've got exactly 16 companies.

Yes, these are annual numbers, not quarterly ones.

The largest A round to go to a female founder in New York went to DWNLD, a mobile app platform led by founder and CEO Alexandra Keating, who raised $12 million. In the Bay Area, two women-led companies each brought in $18 million each: construction app PlanGrid, led by CEO Tracy Young; and energy storage company Advanced Microgrid Solutions, led by CEO by Susan Kennedy.

STEM Debate

The report also included some interesting commentary regarding women receiving STEM degrees. That ongoing debate revolves around whether the lack of women in high-growth entrepreneurship is partly attributable to the fact that only 18 percent of undergraduate computer science degrees are earned by women.

Of the New York crew of fundraising entrepreneurs, the report says,

Christina Mercando d'Avignon of Ringly and Milena Berry of PowerToFly are the only CEOs with technical/engineering backgrounds... The eleven remaining CEOs have fine arts, architecture, design or journalism backgrounds, or have worked in consulting or in business roles at large internet companies."

By contrast, women who raise A rounds in the Bay Area, "tend to have more technical backgrounds and many are serial entrepreneurs who have raised venture capital while running other companies."

VC Retrenchment 

The report also illuminates some other trends, which indicate New York may currently be a healthier business environment for startups than the Valley. The number of A rounds in New York was up about six percent in 2015, and doubled in Los Angeles. Other cities to show dramatic growth included Austin, Seattle, Boston and Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, the number of A rounds financed in the Bay Area was down about six pecrent. 

Female Founders Fund estimates that even before the very recent venture capital slowdown, an entrepreneur's chances of raising an A round to follow a seed funding were only about 30 percent. And fundraising by women slowed dramatically in the second half of 2015, just as it did for the market overall. Still, it certainly can't hurt to have geography on your side.

Published on: Jan 27, 2016