Maker of social media apps for women, Peanut has launched a $300,000 micro fund, StartHER. StartHER aims to focus on investing in women, alongside other people who may have been excluded historically. According to Peanut, the fund will include founders “of all ages, life stages, ethnicities and sexual orientations”. StartHER hopes to help people who may find it difficult to raise their first capital.
Peanut believes that there’s a false assumption that every startup founder has access to wealthy family members and friends who can afford to give them their first capital. The capital required usually ranges between $10,000 -$150,000 in some cases. This amount of money is a huge determiner as to whether or not a startup can even get off the ground.
According to Peanut’s CEO, the assumption that founders should have networks able to invest in their businesses creates an unfair starting line for most groups.
“If we don’t remove barriers to that initial funding by providing access to capital, how can we ever hope to see a changing founder profile further through the fundraising funnel? Peanut’s StartHER fund opens the door to founders looking for that early funding. It’s our opportunity to finally level the playing field. We want to be the family these founders can turn to, opening the door to our professional networks too.”
Women are grossly underrepresented in the Venture Capital industry. About only 13% of major decision-makers at VC are women.
One of the founding partners of Female Founders Fund, Anu Duggal who is also a member of the StartHER committee told TechCrunch that,
“It’s no secret that the venture capital industry is dominated by those with privilege and lucrative connections. As a member of the Female Founders Fund, I’m excited to be a part of StartHER’s investment committee to help these entrepreneurs, who have not been adequately recognized, grow their networks in the venture capital community”.
StartHER is hoping to bridge the gap by offering investments to early-stage, pre-seed businesses focused on creating positive change in healthcare, society, or the environment. It also hopes to write cheques ranging between $25,000-$50,000. StartHER’s overall fund is about $300,000 and it will make about 2-3 investments this year. They would be assisting businesses in funding, networking, strategic networking.
Peanut will also not be taking equity in any of the supported startups.
Kennedy says “Moving forward, we’ll be considering other factors such as deal flow to help inform how we invest and the companies we choose to invest in. We’re heavily focused on making the right investments that will have the most impact versus simply making returns. For StartHER, our goal is not to make X number of investments for X returns, but to diversify the VC funnel by serving as an entry point to capital for underrepresented founders”.
StartHER’s investment committee consists of Michelle Kennedy, founder & CEO of Peanut; Bérénice Magistretti, Femtech journalist and angel investor; Anu Duggal, Founding Partner of Female Founders Fund; Vanessa Kingori MBE, Chief Business Officer, Conde Nast Britain; Shilpa Yarlagadda, Founder of Shiffon Co. and Startup Girl Foundation; Elizabeth Uviebinene, Author, Columnist and Speaker.
Applications for the fund are accepted on a rolling basis and meetings will be held every six months to consider applications received. Startups who eventually become recipients of the fund will also have access to office hours of the networks of the members of the committee.