The Billion Dollar Fund for Women (TBDF) was launched at the World Bank meetings in Bali in October 2018 with an audacious goal of catalyzing $1 billion dollars into the hands of female founders globally, addressing the gender venture investment gap where women were receiving only 2.2% of all venture capital funding. In less than a year, TBDF mobilized a global consortium of more than 80 venture funds committed to investing $1 billion dollars in women-founded companies. Building on this momentum, founders Shelly Porges and Sarah Chen launched Beyond The Billion (BTB) to catalyze capital deployed to and with these venture funds, and ensure continued investment by mobilizing limited partners (LPs) and connecting them to general partners (GPs) who invest in venture-backable companies founded by diverse women.
While the gender pay gap is well documented, what is not, is the gender investment gap. In the U.S. alone, women-founded companies get less than 3% of venture capital invested. All-women founding startup teams received just $1.9 billion of the $85 billion total invested by venture capitalists last year. This is despite the fact that women-founded teams continue to outperform, with more than twice the revenue per dollar invested, than their all-male counterparts. BTB’s approach is unique as it importantly sets the tone for investors to not only commit to lofty ideals but to act upon it – with a dollar amount commitment from each firm. It is also the first time that such an intiative does not target a single market only such as the US but aims to have a lasting global impact by involving fund partners from many different ecosystems
No, the pledge is not legally binding. The pledge was formulated by the founders with feedback from GPs and LPs prior to our launch, and we understood that the ask while ambitious, had to also be something the community could do within investment regulations and parameters. Our approach was never to blame and shame, but to inspire positive action. While the pledges made were not legally binding, the results demonstrate that participating funds have taken their commitment seriously. Check out our Global Impact Report published in 2021: beyondthebillion.com/ourfirstbillion
With a lot of help, and by activating our networks opportunistically (Our founders, Shelly and Sarah combined, have decades of experience in corporate, entrepreneurship and venture capital which helped!).
As such, our list of partner funds are by no means comprehensive nor reflect the full ecosystem. Due to the nature of the pledge campaign where partner funds were recruited opportunistically, selection bias exists in fund identification given the geography of the authors (U.S), supplemented by regional leads, this may well have led to disproportionately lower outreach to funds in other geographies.
Given the global backgrounds of the founders, the driving force behind this initiative was always to address the gender venture investment gap which is a pervasive problem across the globe.
We launched in October 2018 at the World Bank Meetings in Bali as The Billion Dollar Fund for Women. BTB is the successor company to TBDFWomen – a response to the many questions we had after we reached the billion dollar mark in pledges by our partner funds in under 9 months! As we reached this goal a lot sooner than expected, we wanted to find new ways of supporting those funds as they fulfilled their commitments through 2020, and importantly understood that a systemic approach was needed. Our goal is to create a cycle of investment capital from LPs to GPs to FFCs that will go beyond 2020 effectively creating a more female-friendly ecosystem.
As we move forward with BTB, we are confident our partner funds will fulfill their pledges. BTB will continue to monitor the VC funds to measure our success in fulfilling the pledges and report on this and other findings as we get them.
The ultimate goal of BTB is to fuel high-impact, high-growth innovation by women, by strategically targeting the funding ecosystem (specifically VC funds, and the LP investors into them) which will support their ability to scale their businesses.
We think of our role by the 3 Cs:
Create (Awareness, Data and Learning)
The future is female. Our role at TBDF is to continue to create awareness about investing in WFCs, and the business case of gender-lens investing.
We do this in multiple ways, by our reports in collaboration with data partners such as Pitchbook, our success-stories online and offline, featuring the success of both our partner funds and women-founded companies as well as tactically engaging with decision makers through our roundtable discussions and other thought leadership activities.
Beyond connecting our GPs to LPs, our community of GPs and LPs have come together to:
Our number one priority is in catalyzing capital to and with venture funds investing into female founders.
To date, we’ve succeeded because of the support of so many sponsors like Pacific Western Bank, Bank of America, Mastercard and many others. We’ve also consulted with some of our fund partners on strategy. Stay tuned for what next!
Female founders receive less than 3% of VC today, and gender diverse teams still hover around 13%. That means that a majority of all VC funding goes to all-male teams.
Our thesis: BTB believes that the gender venture funding gap is the single largest undervalued opportunity in the market.
Overperformance by women-founded companies and funds that invest in them
Market studies have shown that women consumers feel “vastly underserved”. A growing population of female entrepreneurs and executives are pre-disposed to take advantage of these opportunities through their intuitive understanding of consumer insights and the ability to design solutions and products for this demographic.
Data shows that venture-backed companies run by women had annual revenues that were 12% higher than those run by men, using an average of one-third less committed capital, and had lower failure rates.
Importantly, select data from our global consortium also shows triple revenue growth, with higher retention and profitability rates within their portfolio; resulting in higher returns for LP investors.
Check out our Resources Page for more data on this!
Looking for a prospectus? Are you an LP investor looking to diversify your portfolio? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
TBDF/BTB mobilizes both the GPs of venture funds and LP investors into them who are seeking to gender diversify their portfolios. We do not provide grants nor loans. Our venture funds are pledged to invest in women-founded companies – defined as companies that are founded by women, where she has comparable equity and decision-making to her male counterparts if she is a co-founder.
We target global funds that invest across sectors – from agriculture to AI – because we believe that women are innovating across borders and across sectors.
Yes, of course, please reach out to email@example.com stating your specific ask. We foresee future co-investment between our venture partners. If you are a women-founded company seeking funding, please first research our funds criterion and whether they are still actively investing at the time of your ask.
The last couple of years in the trenches has taught us a lot not only about the current reality of the gender venture investment gap and how complex it is, but the fact that there exists great potential where we can be of value to all our stakeholders: the female founders who are innovating in ways that address some of our most pressing problems and thereby uplift us all, and the funds who we believe will continue to spot the untapped potential of our future and invest in it.
We at Beyond The Billion are committed to delivering on this mission—to fuel women-led innovation and the funds that invest in them.
To that end, some of our work at DecaBillion+ has begun: to unlock more than $10 billion towards that very mission with our partners High Water Women.
Stay tuned for our next chapter! We look forward to continuing to be a force for diversity and returns as we build a better future together.
BTB takes a macro approach and ultimately addresses the funding ecosystem to develop a larger pool of capital allocated to women-founded companies.
We believe this will have a larger, lasting effect in funds committed to women entrepreneurs. In the future, there will be an opportunity to highlight our WFCs at our convenings. We will also be updating our Resource page regularly, where you can obtain some tips on moving your business forward! While we do not typically make direct investments, we are working on our next phase — if you’re a growth stage (>$5M ARR) female-founder based in North America-Asia, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
BTB will continue to update our website with our partner funds who are committed to investing in women. Please visit our partner sites to learn about their investment criterion and apply to them directly. In the future, there will be an opportunity to highlight our WFCs at our convenings. While we do not typically make direct investments, we are working on our next phase — if you’re a growth stage (>$5M ARR) female-founder based in North America-Asia, please email us on email@example.com.
BTB partners with venture funds with different investment theses – investing in venture-backable women-founded companies across agtech, fintech, biotech, and more.
Check out our funds page for their criterion. Typically these would include:
(1) A level of traction – ie. revenue, customer demand, beyond “just an idea”
(2) Proven business models, strong top-line growth, unit economics
(3) Differentiated IP and scalable technology platform
(4) Smart cash burn