Ladies, start your startups: NYC is partnering with five firms to invest $30 million in women-led companies

By Faye Penn

New York City and a handful of venture capital firms are partnering in WE Venture, a new program dedicated to investing in startups led by women and other marginalized entrepreneurs.

Archer Gray, Future\ Perfect Ventures, Golden Seeds Venture Fund, the Multicultural Innovation Lab at Morgan Stanley and WOCStar Fund were selected to join WE Venture because of their shared commitment to investing in women and other underrepresented entrepreneurs who have historically been denied access to capital.

“WE Venture is a real-life example of the City of New York putting our money where our mouth is,” said Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen. “By partnering with these five firms, more women will have access to capital that they new to start and grow their great ideas.”

WE Venture aims to close gender-biased gaps. In the last decade, billions of dollars have been invested into  New York City-based startups, yet most capital bypasses those led by women, reflecting larger national trends. In New York City, only 12 percent of VC funding goes to startups with at least one woman founder.

Under WE Venture, NYC startups will be given investment support needed to grow early-stage businesses into world-class companies. Specifically, the city’s new VC partners have committed to invest alongside the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYEDC) in a 2 for 1 match, for a total of $30 million over the next five years. Deals will be targeted to women-led or owned businesses from a range tech industries that are important to New York’s economy.

“The strongest companies of the future will have management teams that reflect the diversity and usage models of their customers,” says Jalak Jobanputra, Founding Partner, Future\Perfect Ventures.

“This  partnership promotes inclusive investing that will further advance the overall startup ecosystem,” said Alice Vilma, Morgan Stanley Director and Multicultural Co-Head. “We’re excited to partner with the NYCEDC on this important initiative that will help increase access to capital for New York-based startups led by women and multicultural entrepreneurs.”

“Future\Perfect Ventures is honored to be selected as a WE Venture partner. Since our inception five years ago, we have operated on the premise that investing in diverse teams leads to alpha performance, and that the strongest companies of the future will have management teams that reflect the diversity and usage models of their customers,” said Jalak Jobanputra, Founding Partner of Future\Perfect Ventures.

Archer Gray is a hybrid venture capital, media-production, and investment company that leverages multifaceted expertise to bring ideas, companies, and stories together.  In addition to investing in early-stage media technology startups since 2014, Archer Gray develops and produces its own premium theatrical narrative films, TV shows, and documentaries. Its film-and-television production arm achievements include Oscar and Golden Globe nominated  20th Century Women and Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Future\Perfect Ventures is a New York, women-run, early-stage capital fund  that was founded in 2014 by tech veteran Jalak Jobanputra, one of first investors in decentralized technology, including blockchain and crypto-assets “before it was cool,” according to Crunchbase. FVP’s portfolio includes market leaders in AI, blockchain, next-generation marketplaces, and smart devices.

Golden Seeds Venture Fund pursues investment returns by funding female-led companies with expertise in technology-based startups. Over its 15 years of experience, GSVP has established itself as a force in focusing on women’s leadership, gender diversity, entrepreneurship, and job creation. In total, Golden Seeds has invested $115 million in more than 150 companies that received over $1 billion in additional funding, demonstrating the power of early-stage capital in drawing attention to promising companies.

Multicultural Innovation Lab at Morgan Stanley & Co. is an in-house, six-month accelerator program designed to help build and scale technology and tech-enabled startups that are led by multicultural and women entrepreneurs. Lab cohorts are given workspace in Morgan Stanley, an equity investment, and dedicated development and operational support. It was launched in 2017.

WOCStar Fund is focused on transforming how it delivers returns to investors and capitalizing on one of the financial market’s blind spots: WOC (women of color) entrepreneurs and their diverse teams. The fund believes that women are solving big market/consumer problems, building and running healthy companies, and attracting top talent. WOCStar’s team focuses on investing in technology and tech-enabled companies founded or led by women of color who have been historically overlooked and undervalued by the VC industry.

For more information on WE Venture, contact [email protected].