Venture Capital

A win for women as female-founded VCs team up

- June 6, 2022 2 MIN READ
W23 MD Ingrid Maes, Jelix CEO Andrea Gardiner and OneVentures MD Dr Michelle Deaker.
Three female-founded venture capital firms have teamed up to form WinVC, an initiative focused on fostering the success of women in the VC industry.

The triad involves the founders of Woolworths’ venture capital fund W23, OneVentures and Jelix Ventures.

Amid an ongoing debate around female participation in the investment community, women-led VC firms now make up around a quarter (24%) of the sector. But when it comes to senior VC leaders, 2019 Australian Investment Council data found that women make up only 15% of the level of decision makers.

OneVentures MD Dr Michelle Deaker, W23 MD Ingrid Maes and Jelix CEO Andrea Gardiner will join forces to curate a program to female VC professionals with education, mentorship and networking opportunities to help them succeed.

Gardiner said WinVC will be both a community and an education program to support women in venture capital.

“It aims to catalyse the success of women in the traditionally male-dominated venture capital sector and to attract more women into the industry. More diversity will lead to better decision making and facilitate the success of the whole sector and the startups they invest in. So everybody wins,” she said.

“Unconscious gender bias is pervasive in the VC sector: it is well documented that it is harder for women founders to raise capital even though they generate better returns than male founders and similarly it is harder for female-led VC funds to attract institutional backers.

“We want to combat this by raising the profile of women led funds and women in venture leveraging the deep expertise of women in venture themselves, to provide high value learning and support opportunities in a structured way. Our big vision is to eventually hold a global conference for women in venture and potentially to extend this model beyond Australia.”

Deaker, who launched her fund 12 years ago, said the WinVC initiative will help accelerate the development of women-led funds and provide role models for the next generation.

“By working together we also hope to raise the profile of female-led funds,” she said.

Maes said she “can’t help feeling that a lack of diversity is holding us back” in the startup and VC sectors.

“Since founding W23, Woolworths Group’s venture capital fund a few years ago, I have been struck by the incredibly low female representation in the sector, which ignited my passion to do something about it,” she said.

“I feel responsible for giving back and want to create real and tangible ways to help females succeed. So I reached out to Michelle and Andrea and together we hatched the idea of WinVC. There are only a handful of female VC managing partners in Australia and we are on a mission to change that!” 

WinVC will promote the industry as a viable option to women, accelerating the development of female-led funds, connecting with VC women globally, and raising the profile of women and women-led funds.