Recent research in the high tech entrepreneurship world finds companies that are most inclusive of women in top governing positions traditionally outperform other companies with less diversity, demonstrating 35% higher return on equity and 34% better total returns. Yet, only 2.19% of total global venture dollars are going to female-founded startups, despite the workforce being comprised of 50% female, and 36% of small businesses (PDF) being owned by females.
In 2016, the University of Texas Austin’s Dell Medical School (UTADMS) partnered with True Wealth Ventures to change this untapped opportunity. With the help of a 2016 Regional Innovation Strategies Seed Fund Support Grant, they set out to raise a $20 million early-stage venture fund with a “triple bottom line” – pushing for the fund to have strong returns, great gender diversity impact on the venture industry, and compelling impacts on human health and our environment. With one year underway, the fund’s General Partners, Kerry Rupp and Sara Brand, are clearly making headway toward those goals.
To date they have:
- Closed on over $10 million of their $20 million target raise, with a final close in early 2018.
- Invested in their second female-led startup, Houston-based BrainCheck. CEO Yael Katz has already deployed the technology to 60-plus schools and sports teams for concussion testing, and is working with long-term care centers to identify applications to dementia/Alzheimer’s.
- Received certification by the Global Impact Investment Network (GIIN) as an impact fund, which allows them to receive funds from impact investors, including individuals and foundations.
- Seen the UnaliWear product, their first investment building an “OnStar for seniors,” cleared by the FCC and go live at 3 of the largest medical alarm call centers in the US.
- Reviewed 450 new deals (that’s more than a deal a day!) – a data point they uncovered when preparing their semiannual report for the EDA RIS award.
This momentum is especially exciting when one considers the state of female entrepreneurship across Texas – #2 in the U.S. for fastest growth in women-owned businesses, with hubs like Austin, San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas consistently being ranked as top destinations for startup activity and female entrepreneurship.
EDA is proud of the impressive success the University of Texas at Austin and the True Wealth Ventures team have accomplished in such a short period of time, and excited to see the momentum build across the Texas and women’s entrepreneurship community.