Company Profile

Next Wave Impact Fund

Company Information

How the 2019 The Fundery Companies Were Selected

The Fundery includes venture capital funds that take equity stakes in women entrepreneurs or women-led companies as the execution of all or part of their investment theses. It does not include angel networks (unless they also run a venture capital fund) nor does it include special purpose vehicles.

Data as of Publication on Aug. 11, 2020
Location
Boulder, Colorado
Year Founded
2015
Data as of Publication on Aug. 11, 2020
Company Description

Alicia Robb wants to change the face of entrepreneurship – and fast. In 2015, she partnered with Portfolia, an investing platform for women, to co-found and co-manage the Rising Tide Fund. That was a million-dollar early-stage fund, and it taught Robb some important lessons. First was that a million-dollar fund, while great for a pilot, doesn't make a ton of economic sense. The fund could make very early stage investments, but when it was time for the companies to raise another round, the fund wasn't necessarily prepared. "You don't want to have to raise a second fund to follow on," says Robb. Second, she says, is that "if I'm spending my time personally, I want to focus on companies that are making a positive change."

The result is the Next Wave Impact Fund. While the fund is officially sector-agnostic, Robb says she's looking for companies that make a positive impact on people, the planet, or communities. At just under $5 million, it's staked by 99 individual investors, and is what's sometimes referred to as a learn-by-doing fund. That means its L.P.s, unlike in a traditional fund, see many of the entrepreneurs' pitches, get to ask questions of the entrepreneurs, and help with due diligence. Its first checks are from $100,000 to $200,000, and it can participate in follow-on rounds from $200,000 to $500,000. So far, Next Wave Impact has invested in StormSensor, Aquacycl, a wastewater treatment company; and Kuli Kuli, a food company that uses moringa, an ingredient from Africa.

Like many with recently-raised funds, Robb is already looking to the next thing. In September 2019, she plans to kick off fundraising for a new fund that will focus on racial and gender equity, as well as a sustainable planet. Tentatively called the Next Wave Equity and Sustainability Fund, she wants it to come in at around $15 million and offer less-standard forms of financing. That might be revenue financing, or so-called entrepreneur redemptions, which allow founders to buy back some of their equity as they hit particular milestones.

 

Pique Ventures

Company Information

How the 2019 The Fundery Companies Were Selected

The Fundery includes venture capital funds that take equity stakes in women entrepreneurs or women-led companies as the execution of all or part of their investment theses. It does not include angel networks (unless they also run a venture capital fund) nor does it include special purpose vehicles.

Data as of Publication on Aug. 11, 2020
Year Founded
2012
Data as of Publication on Aug. 11, 2020
Company Description

Vancouver-based Pique Ventures has a methodical way of ensuring diversity in its portfolio: 75 percent of the companies it invests in have to be women-led. Pique, which is specifically looking for technology companies in British Columbia, is especially drawn to startups in what it calls the "social technology" space, such as portfolio companies myBestHelper, FoodMesh, and MuseFind. The fund's founder, Bonnie Foley-Wong, is adamant that investment decisions must be based on more than spreadsheets, and advocates for an approach that blends financials and ethics. In November 2018, Pique was a recipient of a grant from the Ventue Capital Catalyst Initiative, a Canadian government program designed to support alternative investment models.

Portfolia

Company Information

How the 2019 The Fundery Companies Were Selected

The Fundery includes venture capital funds that take equity stakes in women entrepreneurs or women-led companies as the execution of all or part of their investment theses. It does not include angel networks (unless they also run a venture capital fund) nor does it include special purpose vehicles.

Data as of Publication on Aug. 11, 2020
Location
Menlo Park, California
Year Founded
2012
Data as of Publication on Aug. 11, 2020
Company Description

By using a unique capital structure for her funds--each one has a maximum of 249 investors and $10 million to invest--Portfolia founder Trish Costello is focusing on turning more high-net-worth women into seed investors. So far, Portfolia has funds in categories such as active aging and femtech, with a total of $6 million under management. Investments include Joylux, UnaliWear, and RenovoRx.

Precursor Ventures

Company Information

How the 2019 The Fundery Companies Were Selected

The Fundery includes venture capital funds that take equity stakes in women entrepreneurs or women-led companies as the execution of all or part of their investment theses. It does not include angel networks (unless they also run a venture capital fund) nor does it include special purpose vehicles.

Data as of Publication on Aug. 11, 2020
Location
San Francisco, California
Year Founded
2015
Data as of Publication on Aug. 11, 2020
Company Description

Charles Hudson decided to start Precursor Ventures when he realized that the classic seed and micro VC funds were getting too big to make smaller, early-stage investments. Precursor's goal for its first fund was to make 18 to 20 investments a year, at about $150,000 to $250,000 each. Hudson, formerly a partner at SoftTech VC, made 50 investments over the two years it took him to raise the money for Precursor. In general, Hudson says, about 10 percent of the fund is invested in hardware companies; 45 percent is in consumer companies; and 45 percent is in B2B. When it comes to founder diversity, he's aiming to have about 25 percent of the fund in women-led businesses, and a similar amount in both African-American and Latinx founders. Precursor often handles follow-on investments by filling them through Hudson's AngelList syndicate. Precursor's portfolio companies include subscription-based community Chairman Mom, email productivity company Superhuman, and employee engagement tool Butterfly.ai. In 2019, Precursor announced the formation of its second fund, which raised about $31 million--about twice the size of its first.

Realist Ventures

Company Information

How the 2019 The Fundery Companies Were Selected

The Fundery includes venture capital funds that take equity stakes in women entrepreneurs or women-led companies as the execution of all or part of their investment theses. It does not include angel networks (unless they also run a venture capital fund) nor does it include special purpose vehicles.

Data as of Publication on Aug. 11, 2020
Location
Darien, Connecticut
Year Founded
2018
Data as of Publication on Aug. 11, 2020
Company Description

As an independent software developer, Marie Rocha had plenty of women entrepreneurs as her clients. She'd help their businesses grow, but at some point, many of them would hit a wall. When she'd follow up and ask what happened, the women would often say they couldn't get the funding they needed. 

"Then I met a guy who raised $2 million for a toilet that lights up," says Rocha. She'd started doing some angel investing, but the $2 million for the light-up toilet pushed her over the edge. "That guy had a network that believed in him, he was very well connected, and people wanted to align with him," she says. Meanwhile, "Women had really great ideas and weren't getting money."

In 2018, Rocha and Patricia Barakett, an entrepreneur in the construction industry, raised $5 million to launch Darien, Conn.-based Realist Ventures, which invests in under-represented founders. Rocha, who is black, takes a wide view of under-represented, for now interpreting it to mean women, people of color, and LGBTQ founders. Realist doesn't turn down meetings with white men, though. Instead, they use themeeting as an opportunity to force a conversation. They met recently with an all-white, all-male team raising money for a direct-to-consumer company, and persuaded them that their chances of success would be much higher if they got a woman in a significant role on their management team. The startup added a woman in a leadership role, and Realist invested.

Realist is willing to invest at a very early stage, sometimes for as little as $25,000. But the fund is big enough that it can make subsequent investments if a company hits its milestones. Most of Realist's checks range from $50,000 to $500,000, with a preference for technology and biotech companies. "We look for companies that are solving problems that can, in the end, benefit either the planet, healthcare, or sustainability," says Rocha. "Those are things we are always thinking about."

So far Realist's investments include Shipsi, a last-leg delivery company; Relovv, a sustainability company, and Bandwagon, which uses blockchain for ticketing.