Privilège Ventures, a venture capital fund based in Lugano, Switzerland, has just launched its fourth fund. The 20 million Swiss franc (just over $20 million) fund is aimed at female-led start-ups across Europe.
“We don’t just want to support women,” Jacqueline Ruedin Rüsch, founding general partner of Privilege Ventures, said in an interview with TechCrunch. “The data shows that women in charge produce a better return on investment.”
The company says its investment thesis is based on statistical evidence that women outperform men in leadership roles.
“The numbers are staggering. It’s not just about being ethical and doing good: global GDP would increase by 6% if entrepreneurship rates were equal between men and women,” said Lucian Wagner, Founding General Partner of Privilege Ventures in a press release.
The company’s thesis is supported by Boston Consulting Group research on investment and earnings data over a five-year period. The study also showed that startups founded and co-founded by women received less than half of the average investments made in male-led businesses, even though female-led startups generated 10% more revenue over time. .
“There are very few funds in the world dedicated to supporting female founders, and despite the rapid growth of the venture capital industry, the percentage of female-led or female-led teams is declining,” said Rüsch. “I started my professional life in the banking sector in Switzerland: it was, and still is in part, a very masculine sector. I got used to being one of the few women in big boardrooms and didn’t even notice it anymore. But when I got pregnant, the first reaction from my senior colleagues was, ‘When are you going to stop working?’ It was quite shocking, I have to admit.
As Alex reported in July, data from PitchBook suggests that the percentage of venture capital deals that include at least one female founder rose from 19.4% to 18.2%. In Europe, the figures are even more disastrous. Privilege suggests that in Europe, female founders receive barely 1% of total venture capital investments.
Privilege Ventures’ LPs are mostly high net worth individuals and family offices, the firm says, and the fund aims to write 15 to 20 seed checks, with initial investments in the range of $250,000.
“I really like to invest in founders at the very beginning of their journey. Often, we meet them before they have even formed their company and we follow them, coach them and see how they take their first steps in the entrepreneurial journey. Given our focus on the seed phase, we believe it is essential to be as close as possible to our businesses and for this reason we have a preference for our local market, Switzerland, and European countries. surroundings”, explains Rüsch. “We are not specialized in a particular sector but we have some preferences, in particular in med\tech, deep tech and in general for the digital economy. We like to enter as early as possible, even in pre-seed, and are happy to continue investing in the best companies through Series A.”
The company says it would like to see more companies trying to solve “real” problems – solutions that can save lives, save the planet, and products that are not just “nice to have” but are ” indispensable”.
“Our global portfolio already includes more than 30% of companies with a female co-founder. As we aim to invest only in the best performing teams, we need to ensure a strong deal flow and for this reason we will look not only to Switzerland but also to Europe, with more emphasis on certain countries like Italy, France and Germany, being closer to us,” says Rüsch, explaining why investing specifically in women continues to make sense for the fund. “Some will point to the simple fact that having different points of view in the room leads to more thoughtful decision-making – some will point out that women have struggled with many hassles to get where they are. We’re seeing first-hand that women are being driven to tackle issues that have been overlooked in technology, but can have a profound impact on the world. We already have startups in our portfolio with founders or leaders working on using neurotechnology to improve sleep, fungicides to improve diet, and biomarkers to continuously measure proteins and hormones to prevent and monitor health issues, to name a few.
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