As of 2019, Across Europe women make up only 37% of all management positions, 28% of board member spots and 18% of senior executives. This underrepresentation of women at all levels is largely due to the fact that both as founders and employees, women are constantly at a systemic disadvantage compared to men.
For example, the Harvard business review determined that women require more complex networks than men in order to achieve the same level of success. In terms of funding, teams of women founders received only 10%-15% of all European money invested into startups in 2019. Even in the Nordic countries, which are known for being some of the most gender-equal countries in the world, female founding teams received only 1.3% of all venture capital funding.
These numbers are even more damning when you consider that gender equality not only benefits society as a whole, but it is simply smart business. Gender-diverse teams are 21% more likely to achieve above average profitability compared to their all male counterparts; and in terms of revenue to funding ratio, female founded companies outperform all male teams by 45%. The numbers don’t lie.
Given the mismatch between the level of support and the proven success, it is no surprise that women often find themselves asking, “Would this situation have played out differently if I were a man?” Despite much legal and cultural progress, often the answer is unfortunately still “Yes”. With all of this information in mind, we are excited to partner with Female Founders to start making concrete changes in VC.
As much as it pains us to say it, this inequity is also currently reflected in our own investment portfolio. We realized that overcoming the systemic biases that stand in the way of talented female entrepreneurs required an active approach.
Female Founders is the fastest-growing European community for women with entrepreneurial minds. Their goal is to reshape the economy and society by putting more women in leadership roles and by fostering female entrepreneurship.
Through offering (online) educational and developmental events to their Base F community, an investment readiness accelerator called Grow F, and a leadership program called Lead F, Female Founders works towards facilitating gender equality in the European tech ecosystem. Their work has recently been awarded by GP Bullhound with the Investor Allstars Tech4Good award.
Both members of this new partnership bring complementary skills and resources. We look forward to further supporting the female founders in our portfolio with their professional development by providing access to the Lead F program. Lead F consists of a series of personal development and leadership sessions with some of Europe’s most innovative startup founders and operators, with representatives from Oatly, Bitpanda, Instahelp and many more. These expert-led sessions equip participants with the tools female founders need in order to successfully manage teams within the fast-paced European startup environment.
As a co-founder of Doctorly, Lead F helps me to grow my network as a woman in business and gives me access to a trusted group of international peers I can learn from.
— Anna von Stackelberg, Co-Founder Doctorly
As a founder, I often struggle to find time to pause and reflect — and to find moments to read articles, watch videos (on a wide variety of (business) topics) and get inspired. The program helps me carve out space to slow down for a few hours each week and offers lots of new ideas through the readings and the weekly sessions. I enjoy building a wider network of wonderful business/entrepreneurial women, too!
— Wendy van Leeuwen, Co-Founder Secret City Trails
Lead F offers an environment of inspiring and powerful women, which is something I have been looking for. As a leader and co-founder at Lizee, I am happy to share challenges with peers.
— Anna Balez, Co-Founder Lizee
At Speedinvest, we have a lot to offer in terms of knowledge and experience working in the European startup scene. We hope to use this to support the growth of the Female Founders community. One way we’ll do this is by actively participating in value-adding events that have been specifically tailored to meet the needs of female entrepreneurs. Two of our team members are already active along these lines:
Additionally, we are supporting the Grow F startup accelerator program. Speedinvest investment managers will also serve as mentors and jury members, sharing their investment know-how and insights on specific industry and market trends. Some of the experts who will be supporting the startups in the accelerator program include:
It is important to everyone here on the Speedinvest team that we make real changes in the work we are doing. Partnering with Female Founders provides both of our companies with great opportunities to grow in a progressive way.
We are extremely proud to be the first VC to partner with Female Founders, and I am confident that we will not be the last. There is a lot of trust in this partnership and we are looking forward to joining forces with a team that has proven they create impact on a pan-European level. We recognize that there is a gender equality issue in the tech scene and know that there needs to be action coming from the VC side. Partnering with Female Founders to initiate change in our own portfolio is a great first step towards making a difference.
— Oliver Holle, CEO & Founder Speedinvest
The venture capital industry is facing a gender equality problem. This is visible in the amount of money that goes to female and mixed teams, as well as in the number of female investment professionals. We are thrilled that Speedinvest has recognized the potential opportunities the industry is missing and that they are putting their trust in us to help them change that. It’s great for us to see that such an important player in this ecosystem is getting on board with solving these issues.
We are really looking forward to working together to grow the Female Founders community. The Speedinvest team has a lot of knowledge and experience in their field and we know that there is great value in the insights they will share with us and our community members through this new partnership.
— Nina Wöss, COO & Co-Founder Female Founders
Again, Speedinvest is incredibly excited to have this opportunity not only to find ways to better serve our current portfolio, but also to help clear the way for undervalued female founders of the future to succeed.
If you are a supporter of female entrepreneurship, make sure to sign up to the Female Founders newsletter here. You will receive updates about upcoming events, get insights into the world of female-led startups and the most exciting job opportunities in European tech. If you are a current or aspiring female founder yourself read more about and consider applying for Female Founders’ Grow F and Lead F programs.
Speedinvest is a leading pan-European, early-stage venture capital firm. Our portfolio includes Wefox, Bitpanda, TIER Mobility, GoStudent, Curve, CoachHub, Schüttflix, TourRadar, Adverity, and Twaice. Sign up for our newsletters to get our exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.