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Investing in Women is not Sympathetic

The Borski Fund has been around for over two years now, and we felt it was time to take stock of our experience as an investment fund that focuses on diversity and technology.

In early 2020, we launched with millions of investment funds. Our own fundraising involved hundreds of meetings, dozens of different presentations, many many phone meetings, hearing no 100 times, hearing yes regularly. Lots of solicited and unsolicited advice. And, it was no different for the entrepreneurs who came to us.

There are a number of myths surrounding investing in diversity that we would like to dispel.

First of all, let’s talk about what we’re really not:

1. We are not a sympathetic initiative.

If you have raised over 40 million from banks, family offices and other experienced investors, if you have looked at over 750 investment decks in 2 years and made several investments in deep tech companies, then you are professional, results driven, having skin in the game. So we are indeed shocked when a potential LP dares to call us especially sympathetic.

2. We do not invest in baby rompers.

All investments we make are in companies, technologies and innovations that can change the world. Investing in women entrepreneurs means investing in unique innovations, there are plenty of baby rompers already.

3. We are not a first time fund.

Laura — my business partner — has been investing for 25 years and manages over 450 million euros. And I too have a some awards to showcase. Yet we sometimes call in our male business partner to be taken seriously in a meeting. Who then promptly gets all the questions.

4. We are not the default men.

We may not immediately fit into the box, the box that was so clear to many for years — men who invest in men. We don’t belong in the tunnel vision. That alone makes us look at other companies, other innovations and other business models. And that means a huge opportunity for economic progress, equal representation and undervalued pathways.

We are also eager to list again what we are:

5. We have indeed raised tens of millions of euros.

That’s a fact, and it makes us one of the few funds with female managers in the VC world. Fortunately, there are women (lots of them!) and men (the pioneers here) whom we welcome as LPs and who dare to invest in female GPs. But too many are still watching from the side lines as far as we’re concerned.

6. We have 30 years of experience investing in companies.

We know what it is like to invest in various domains, to help build teams, attract experts and add value. We have experience in media, fashion, cleantech, healthtech and invest in a broad range of sectors because of the proven increase in the chances of fund success.

7. Our network is large.

We know other investors, exit entrepreneurs and can reach them. That makes all the difference to those entrepreneurs who partner with our fund. Also — we love our co-investors.

8. Our deal flow is great.

We speak to ambitious women entrepreneurs looking for growth money every day.

The women’s market is not niche. Women want to grow. Women want to innovate, and have a vision. And yes, they are innovating in the menopause market, and in fashion industry. Those are also billion dollar markets.

9. We are number crunchers.

We make reports down to the decimal point, we enjoy Excel. We know what an accountant does at a fund, and we don’t need to be mansplained that we have to make reports for our investors and that an accountant is reviewing our numbers.

10. We have over 450 million under management.

That means we see a lot of companies, speak to them and support their successes and help solve their problems. And based on that experience we have developed a unique and useful Value Creation Model. That’s definitely not only way we help our entrepreneurs, however a good reassurance for our LPs.

11. We’ve taken final exams in math, physics, economics and so many other subjects.

If that has to be proof that we can think like techies, so be it. Even though many male investors have an alpha background themselves.

12. We built one of the first tech companies in the Netherlands that was sold to a U.S. based publicly traded company.

This makes us pioneers in the tech ecosystem. We also built the first clean tech companies even before the sector had a name and with that we’re pioneers in clean tech. We also built one of the first fintech companies. Can we provide a more extensive track record?

Lastly:

13. Women can play soccer.

Women can score and do score. You may wonder why we mention this? One of the investors who did not see the point of investing in women gave the reason that according to him, women cannot play soccer either.

14. Women want to win.

We know that, and yet we have to explain it over and over again to investors who are considering to invest in our fund.

15. Women love to make money.

Women build companies. Women lead teams. Women make money. There are so many reports that prove this. It’s a trillion dollar opportunity to invest in women. So why wait?


May we bring this up one more time: Surely we can’t invest in less than 5% female founders year after year. How about 95% of the money goes to all-male teams, bringing an e-cigarette to market, or a watch platform, or yet another nutritional convenience box.

It’s an adventure that we embarked on a few years ago to build a large investment fund with a focus on diversity and inclusive innovation. We want a fund through which new and different innovations are funded, through which women entrepreneurs are funded, through which diverse teams are funded. Through which the world becomes a better place.

Now, we are two years in! And very happy! Thank you to everyone who made this possible, our early on ambassadors, our investors, our portfolio companies, our team members, our investment committee, our advisory board, our business partners, private partners and our families!


This piece originally appeared on Borski Fund, and was published here with permission

Simone Brummelhuis

Simone Brummelhuis

Fund Director & Partner at Borski Fund.

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