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Dear Friends,

Happy Holidays and best wishes for the New Year from Female Founders Fund! As we move into 2021, we wanted to take a moment to share our reflections on the past year.

Team 👩‍👩‍👧‍👧

In 2020, we added three new members to the FFF team. On the investing side, Adrianna Samaniego joined us from Columbia Business School this spring prior to spending eight years at Google followed by internships at Jet Blue Ventures and Harlem Capital. Emily Powers joined us from TPG’s Rise Impact fund where she spent the last three years. On the platform team, we brought on Caroline McKechnie as Operations Associate, working with our Head of Platform Emily St. Denis to support FFF’s content and community efforts. …


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Image Credit

Female Founders Fund launched in 2014 with one simple belief: women will build the companies of tomorrow. Since 2014 women’s health has outgrown its perception as a “niche” area of healthcare and developed into a key area of interest for investors, as well as the broader healthcare community. As a result of this shift, over $1 billion has been invested in women’s health companies over the last 5 years.

We invested early in Maven Clinic in 2014 and through our experience with Maven have become increasingly aware of both the need to create specific solutions for women’s health, and the opportunity to consumerize healthcare and put it in the hands of the user. We believe that women’s healthcare is a global market opportunity in a nascent stage, primed for exponential growth. …


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Co-Founders of Oula Health: Elaine Purcell (L) and Adrianne Nickerson (R)

Today, modern maternity center Oula Health announces their $3.2M Seed round with investors including Female Founders Fund, Collaborative Fund, Chelsea Clinton’s fund Metrodora, 8VC, Kapor Capital, individuals like Kate Ryder of Maven Clinic, among others.

Female Founders Fund has always believed in the opportunity to transform women’s healthcare by building the care model around the mother’s needs. We got excited about the team at Oula Health for a few reasons:

1⃣ Firstly, experience. It is so rare to come across a founding team with both the healthcare expertise as well as the technology background in scaling care teams with start-up experience, as well as healthcare investing experience.


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Daisy Auger-Dominguez

This Summer, we were fortunate to host Daisy Auger-Dominguez, VICE Media Group’s Chief People Officer, to speak with FFF Founders about ways we can support the movement to bring more diversity and equity to the investing and tech world.

Over the past two decades, Daisy has made it her mission to make workplaces more inclusive. Prior to leading the global human resources organization at VICE, she designed and executed diversity, equity and inclusion strategies for companies like The Walt Disney Company and Google. …


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Leena Bhutta, DDCF (left), Lo Toney, Plexo Capital (center), Alisa Mall, Carnegie Corporation (right)

Female Founders Fund recently hosted a virtual panel in partnership with First Republic Bank with three top LP’s committed to diversity and inclusion: Leena Bhutta of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Lo Toney of Plexo Capital, and Alisa Mall of Carnegie Corporation. The conversation focused on the realities of being a Limited Partner (LP) in the post-COVID world, strategies for diversifying investment networks and portfolios, and ways LPs and investors can help move the needle on racial and gender equality, both in their own firms and across the industry.

The big takeaway? Investing in diversity doesn’t — and shouldn’t — have to be discussed as “mission-driven” or “impact-driven” investing. Most often, the best long-term returns come from focusing on performance, and finding talent organically through diverse investment networks. …


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Mindy Grossman at FFF’s 2018 CEO Summit

WW President and CEO Mindy Grossman has developed a reputation as the kind of leader who can usher a company through periods of change and transformation.

Over the years, she transformed the Home Shopping Network (HSN), launched Polo Jeans Company for Ralph Lauren, accelerated the growth of Nike’s Global Apparel business and rebranded Weight Watchers into WW, a weight and health-focused company with an eye to democratize the wellness industry.

Female Founders Fund recently spoke with Mindy about her thoughts on strengthening team culture, navigating hiring and firing, and launching new business initiatives through periods of extreme change — like the one we’re facing now. …


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Lauren Underwood at Female Founders Fund’s 2019 CEO Summit

U.S. Representative Lauren Underwood had never run for office before she took on a four-term Tea Party Republican and beat him by five points in November 2018, during the election cycle that manifested the youngest, most diverse Congress in history.

Underwood represents the 14th district of Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives. A nurse by trade, she is working to expand healthcare coverage across the country through implementing the Affordable Care Act at the federal level, reforming private insurance, and improving healthcare quality and access to preventive services like free screenings and contraceptives.

Underwood was appointed Senior Advisor at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services by President Obama, and worked on issues like Ebola, Zika, and the Flint, Michigan water crisis. As the 2016 election approached, she and the rest of her team believed they would be able to hand off their work to similarly passionate, progressive successors. “Instead we got the Trump team, who made it immediately clear that they wanted to take away healthcare coverage from the American people. And that’s not why I became a nurse or did any of this work, really,” she said at Female Founders Fund’s 2019 CEO Summit. …


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This month, we are thrilled to interview Leena Bhutta, Senior Investment Officer for Doris Duke Charitable Foundation — one of Female Founders Fund’s most recent LPs — on her thoughts around how LPs can push the movement of investing in diversity forward, how managers can look at their LPs as partners, investing trends in the current climate, her tips on fundraising post-COVID, and more.

At DDCF, Leena oversees investments in venture capital firms, credit managers, emerging markets managers as well as in real estate investment firms. Prior to Doris Duke, Leena served as Director of Alternative Investments at Hollyhock Foundation where she created the investment program and initiated all investments in fund managers across various strategies. …


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Illustration: Dom Guzman

In the wake of COVID-19, the past four months have brought a wave of challenges and opportunities for female founders. Early-stage startups are, by their very nature, more vulnerable to negative economic downturns, and the coronavirus crisis has affected startup founders across the board.

Regardless of stage and sector, founders are uncertain about their companies’ futures, especially as 75% of economists predict a global recession in the year to come, per The Washington Post. Considering that female-founded teams received less than 3% of capital in 2019, there is growing concern that the economic impact of COVID-19 will disproportionately affect women-founded startups.


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Today is Juneteenth, Freedom Day, a historic day in our nation. On Juneteenth and every day, #BlackLivesMatter. It was June 19th, 1865 that slaves in Texas found out about the Emancipation Proclamation — and their freedom — a whole two years after the proclamation had been signed. This is one of the most significant days in American history. At Female Founders Fund we celebrate the freedom of all Americans and recognize today as an official holiday. …

About

Female Founders Fund

An early-stage fund investing in the exponential power of exceptional female talent.

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