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Studies show that women-led startups outperform their male counterparts in revenue. Other research indicates that companies with more gender diversity generate better financial returns. Yet less than 3 percent of venture capital dollars went to all-women founding teams last year. That’s just $2.5 billion of the $84 billion raised by startups in 2017.

Some point to the investor community as one reason for the gap. A 2016 survey conducted by the National Venture Capital Association and Deloitte found that just 11 percent of VC firm investment partners were women. Evidence suggests that the lack of female partners makes firms less likely to invest in female-led startups.

“If the goal is to have more successful technology startups led by women, it may not be enough to simply encourage more women to start companies,” Sahil Raina, an assistant professor of finance at Alberta School of Business, wrote in the Harvard Business Review. “A crucial step to helping more female entrepreneurs succeed may be to encourage more women to join venture capital firms.”

There are burgeoning efforts to fund more companies with female leaders, from Arlan Hamilton’s Backstage Capital to firms such as Female Founders Fund.

The lack of diversity within VC firms is why more than 500 venture-backed entrepreneurs earlier this year put their support behind Founders for Change, an initiative that launched out of the #MeToo movement and the numerous harassment stories from Silicon Valley over the past year.

In the Pacific Northwest, women investors are having a bigger impact both at the angel level and at venture capital firms, which are increasingly adding women to their leadership teams. Many investors are looking to back women-led startups.

“More female venture capitalists is directly correlated with more female founders getting funding,” said Gillian Muessig, the Moz co-founder who is CEO of Seattle-based Outlines Venture Group and founder of Sybilla Masters Fund. “I believe there is not only correlation, but causation. This is exciting for female founders and for the world at large.”

GeekWire compiled a list of women VCs and angel investors across the Seattle and Portland regions, with the help of community members. (Thank you to everyone who offered input!). We’ve sent a short questionnaire to everyone on the list and received many responses already. This is meant to be a community resource and a living document, so please email me at taylor@geekwire.com with suggested additions or feedback. Investors are listed below in alphabetical order.

Bonnie Beeman.

Bonnie Beeman, angel investor

Bonnie Beeman spent time at AT&T, T-Mobile, Microsoft, ZTE, and Sharp before founding Airwavz.tv, a Seattle startup that produces a ATSC 3.0 digital TV receiver for North America. Beeman joined the Seattle Angel Fund (now called SeaChange) in 2015. She invests in medical devices, commercial real estate, cosmetics, and more. 

What is your investment approach/thesis?

My investment approach is to put my money into businesses that immediately return regular cash flow either in distributions or dividends. As an example, I look for stocks with low P/E ratios that pay dividends, and I invest in startups that return cash flow within 1-to-3 months of the investment. I prefer to invest in companies that meet either of these criteria, as they are ongoing, basic human necessities and will always be in high demand — Maslow principles (businesses that solve basic human needs), and sin and vice (businesses that provide products and services that people crave and are habitual).

What tech trends are you excited about?

I’m thrilled about the new ATSC 3.0 digital TV transition that is up-and-coming in 2019 and beyond. It will make TV a direct competitor to wireless services and be faster, with a wider reach and serve millions of consumers.

I’m also very interested in tech trends that serve to protect our environment, like natural habitats, forests, wildlife, and thoughtful reproduction that takes into consideration that impact of population on ecology and quality of life on Earth.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

Maslow principle (medical devices, commercial real estate, hard money lending, merchant cash advance, oil, robotics, telecommunications); sin and vice (cosmetics, tobacco and cannabis, candy/ice cream/liquor).

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

My thoughts on women contributing to the VC/angel world is that it’s phenomenal to see people who are qualified accredited investors putting their money to work in businesses that solve big problems. Gender contribution to the investment world is less important to me, as I see a person’s overall intellectual curiosity and competency for research and thoughtful fact-based debate much more important to successful investing.

Self-awareness of our own biases and prejudices will invite more women into investing conversations overall, and eventually we will move into a pattern of investor leadership that is driven by solid data and substantiated facts, holding our integrity and principles to the highest standard that our investments serve the greater good of this planet.

Julianne Brands.

Julianne Brands, partner at Oregon Venture Fund

Julianne Brands, who joined the Portland-based fund a year ago, was previously a product director at Pacific Crest Securities and a program coordinator at Milken Institute. She has invested in companies including Wildfang and Hubb.

What is your investment approach/thesis?

We’re hyperlocal investors, so we’re looking for rockstar teams in large and growing markets solving real pain points, all here in Oregon & SW Washington. We’ve invested in everything from autonomous vehicle software to women’s lifestyle brands to probiotic food platforms because they fit those criteria.

What tech trends are you excited about?

We’re seeing a number of technology areas evolve. In general, though, we see the intersection of technology disrupting specific industries. Most especially, we’re seeing that play out in IoT, AR/VR, and blockchain. Companies here aren’t building technology for the sake of it, but rather applying it to specific industries and use cases. Like The Wild, providing real time, VR collaboration software for architects, and Iotas, enabling the smart apartment with IoT. We’re also bullish about AI, but it’s still early days for us in terms of investing in that category, however, in many ways we expect it to be the new normal for software companies.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

The two current investments I’ll highlight are Wildfang and Hubb. Both Emma McIlroy of Wildfang and Allie Magyar of Hubb are building phenomenally scalable and defensible businesses in very different categories. And, I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few year they’re on this female VC list as well :)

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

All I’ll add here is that we have the pleasure of having a collaborative investment model where we want to ensure we bring together expert with diverse backgrounds and perspectives. And, we know that when women and people of color are in the room when making investment decisions, we’re driving towards better outcomes as venture capital investors. And we want more of all of those things!

Hope Cochran.

Hope Cochran, venture partner at Madrona Venture Group

Hope Cochran, who joined Madrona in January 2017, was previously a CFO at King, maker of Candy Crush. She was also CFO at Clearwire and Evant. She has invested in companies including The Riveter.

What is your investment approach/thesis?

Currently I am a venture partner with Madrona and am loving the ability to work with so many awesome CFOs in our portfolio and help them manage through building great companies at a fast pace. I have been fortunate to lead a few investments, but I am quite frankly still working out my own investment thesis!

In addition to Madrona I am on three public boards: Hasbro, New Relic and MongoDB. I love that work and am a great champion of getting more women leadership on corporate boards. I have been leading the OnBoarding Women program on behalf of Madrona in Seattle and am so impressed with the caliber of women execs in the area!

What tech trends are you excited about?

In regards to areas of investment I tend to gravitate towards – I love gaming (really the ecosystem around gaming), systems that help a company run (companies like Integris, New Relic, etc.), companies that are making sense or management of big data (Mongo DB), and for-profit companies with a social impact, like Branch.co or The Riveter.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

I was able to lead Madrona’s investment in The Riveter this past year. Working with Amy Nelson has been inspiring. I am proud to be a part of her journey and the need in the market that it is filling.

Kate Delhagen.

Kate Delhagen, founding partner, Oregon Sports Angels

Kate Delhagen, who founded the sports- and outdoors-oriented investor group in Oregon a year ago, was previously senior director of global digital business development at Nike and has worked as a Forrester research vice president. She has invested in companies including Wildfang, Garden Bar, Freeland Spirits, Hemex Health.

What is your investment approach/thesis?

“It takes hard work to make anything.” Corollary: “It takes money to make money.”

I grew up in a family business — a KOA Kampground, in the 70s, in Pennsylvania — and without a lot of back-breaking work and some bank loans, we would not have made it through some brutal economic downturns. So I’m strongly imprinted by the concepts of work ethic and access to capital.

At Oregon Sports Angels (OSA), we look for innovative products and services that will improve/transform the experience for athletes, coaches/teams, and fans. Can be tangible consumer products (shoes, clothing, gear), or services (e.g. apps, community, media). Seed stage, MVP or early revenue. Founders/teams looking for “smart (sports/tech) money” as we want our investors to coach/advise to accelerate success.

Personally, I look for Oregon-based female founders with a unique life story, a cool consumer product/service, and that crazy look in their eyes.

What tech trends are you excited about?

Everyone being connected. Access can bring equality, increase freedom and unlock opportunity. It’s a very powerful concept. (Of course there are downsides of this as well.)

Sounds simple, but I believe we still vastly underestimate the impact of the scale/magnitude/speed of change happening. I look for people who can somehow process this (capacity, personal velocity), and the ideas (and potential businesses) that they generate. I’m also hugely passionate about personal data, and how brands, retailers and platforms, et al, are gathering and using it … for good and evil.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

Personal: Wildfang, Garden Bar, Freeland Spirits, Hemex Health. All Portland-based female founders/CEOs.

OSA: O.D.D. (Oddlot Labs, first company to come out of the University of Oregon Sports Product Management Masters Program); Handful; HeroClip.

I’m also a limited partner in Oregon Venture Fund 2018 and FitzGate Ventures Fund 1.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

Personally: If you believe that access equals opportunity, and if you believe that women should have equal opportunity, then you know how I feel about this. It’s exciting to see so many women stepping into this world. It’s encouraging to see so many women interested in learning how to be “angels” and that so many women and men are stepping up to educate, inspire, and bring opportunities to “get in the game.” The more women who join angel networks/funds, the more money women invest, the more coaching, mentoring and due diligence women provide, the more strongly I believe the outcomes will be better for those individuals, for the companies, the communities, and (ok, pollyanna), the world.

OSA: My goal is to create a one-of-a-kind network of angels comprised of sports industry veterans and “techknowledgists” (tech people who love sports/can help with sports tech companies). AND – BIG AND – for every white male accredited investor who raises his hand to join, we actively seek out and recruit one female or non-white male to join, especially from the vast network of women and people of color in the sports industry. So far, OSA membership is about 65/35 percent, so better than average, but not quite yet where we expect and need it to be :).

Edith Dorsen.

Edith Dorsen, managing director at Women’s Venture Capital Fund

Edith Dorsen, who launched Portland-based Women’s Venture Capital Fund in 2011, was previously a principal at Insights, LLC. She has invested in companies including Nvoicepay; Newsela; HopSkipDrive.

What is your investment approach/thesis?

WomensVCFund ll invests in early stage companies with high growth potential that meet investment criteria: Senior leadership inclusive of women with domain expertise; bonafide market traction with revenue generation; series A/B financing after significant angel/seed round; capital efficient.

What tech trends are you excited about?

WomensVCFund ll focuses on three high growth sectors — enterprise software-as-a-service, consumer internet, and educational technology — all of which are driven by increased mobility, cloud computing, and big data analytics.

A couple tech trends we are watching:

  • Digital-first brands in consumer product categories; intersection of physical and digital retail
  • Smart technology for buildings to provide data and analytics to improve user experience and energy efficiency
  • AI to help human labor work smarter and more effectively
  • Modern approach to health and wellness – more holistic, personalized, active patient input

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

Nvoicepay; Newsela; HopSkipDrive.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

As women become more active as seed and angel investors, we’re heartened to see more investment dollars going into women-led companies at the earliest stage. There persists a significant capital gap for female founders at later stages. We’ve always believed that leadership diversity is a major competitive advantage and WomensVCFund ll remains 100 percent committed to funding Series A/B companies with gender inclusive leadership.

Liz Dunn.

Liz Dunn, angel investor, founder of Dunn & Hobbes

What is your investment approach/thesis?

I have mostly invested in two categories: cleantech, which I’ve been investing in for 20 years (with mixed success as the sector has been bumpy) and consumer-facing apps or F&B/retail concepts that meet the emerging needs of urban dwellers. I’m embedded in those industries through my real estate ventures and the tenants who populate them (Chophouse Row, Melrose Market). Walk Score (now part of Redfin), Blok24 and Cone & Steiner are examples of the latter.

But I will also invest outside of those two categories if I know the team well and I can see a strong IP play or first-mover advantage. For example, VistaPrint was founded by a good friend from business school, at a time when small business publishing was undergoing disruptive change.

What tech trends are you excited about?

Real estate tech. Consumer-facing apps that address the needs of a young and rapidly growing urban population.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

Besides The Cloud Room and my own real estate ventures, I am currently invested in Blok24 (and am on their board), Cone & Steiner, Marmite, the Lodges at Vachon, and Revel, among others. In the Vancouver B.C. clean-tech sector I’m in Inventys, Saltworks and General Fusion. I was an early stage investor in Goodship (now Privateer), Walkscore (now Redfin), InterNAP and VistaPrint. I’ve been an LP in most of the Divergent funds.

And then one that couldn’t be further from tech: I’m helping out on a local film called Thin Skin, because it’s literally the dream team of Seattle’s creative community: Lindy West, Charles Mudede, Ahamefule Oluo and others. If successful it will put Seattle’s film-making on the map in a huge way.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

In the earliest days of Element 8 (originally Northwest Energy Angels) and of the Vancouver Angel Network, I would often be one of two or three women in the room — which was fine, since I’m not exactly a shrinking violet and not afraid to ask a lot of questions. It’s changing, although not as quickly as I would have expected. But as female investors have more and more successful exits, their track records are starting to speak for themselves. And founders are now extremely eager to have female investors on their boards, because they know they need their perspective.

Adeline Ee.

Adeline Ee, angel investor

Adeline Ee spent more than a decade at CNBC in various digital roles before founding Bell Digital Group, a consultancy for digital startups. She’s currently an executive at Alpha Grid, a Financial Times company. Past investments include Aqueduct, OtoNexus and Factal.

What is your investment approach/thesis?

I currently invest through the SeaChange Fund, which is led by Susan Preston — a woman whom I have a huge amount of respect for. We typically invest in companies that have high-growth potential and address a significant market pain. The businesses must have the potential to be scalable and bring good returns, mainly through an exit. We like teams that have worked together in the past and have solid experience and knowledge.

What tech trends are you excited about?

I’m interested in how AI is being used to develop smart cities (mainly through the convergence of cloud, ML, Big Data and IoT). For example, one city in China has adopted AI to ease traffic congestion. Malaysia is next on the list. In Vienna, citizens use an AI chatbot to access services in the city. It’s still early days but the potential to improve our quality of life could be big.

The actual adoption of blockchain will be interesting to watch. While we’re seeing more practical applications develop in the enterprise space, many CIOs still have no interest in it.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

Through the SeaChange Fund, we have invested in Aqueduct, OtoNexus and Factal.

I also have special interest in a UK-based luxury watch startup called Skolorr, which has become the main platform for high-end artisan watchmakers and independent brands. While it’s extremely challenging transforming an old-world industry to become digital-ready, the passion and tenacity behind the founder — a woman — has already led significant changes to a conservative industry.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

There is definite awareness on the need for diversity at the table, but the gender gap is still prevalent in the VC world. The good news, is that within the angel space, female investors are actually on the rise. Women bring a different lens to investing, so with more female angels at the table, I hope this will enable the growth of more women-led startups.

Tina Eskridge.

Tina Eskridge, angel investor

Tina Eskridge leads Microsoft’s North and Latin America channel operations organization. She was previously director of marketing at Laureate International Universities. Eskridge is a member of Pipeline Angels. She has invested in companies including Pie for Providers and Time Study.

What is your investment approach/thesis?

My investment approach/thesis is founded in supporting enterprises that are led by individuals that are often unknowingly systematically marginalized due to gender and/or ethnic bias.

What tech trends are you excited about?

I am often astounded by how much increased access to data has changed our entire existence over a very short time. I get excited about the convergence of data and technology that is used to responsibly enhance the way in which we live and leave our environment.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

Pie for Providers and Time Study are two of the investments I’ve made. Both are femme-led enterprises that have uniquely positioned themselves to provide digital assets that fundamentally change the way businesses can drive impact.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

I am extremely excited about the equity that is being introduced to the VC/angel world as more women get involved and lend their capital as well as their talents as advisors and board members. Diversification has been proven to produce optimal business outcomes in enterprises, and I believe equity in funding and opportunity for startups will raise the bar even further, giving way to ideas that we never could have imagined.

Carla Fowler.

Carla Fowler, angel investor

Carla Fowler is an active angel investor with Keiretsu Forum and Alliance of Angels. She is managing director of THAXA and earned a medical degree and Ph.D from the University of Washington in 2011. 

What is your investment approach/thesis?

My investment approach has three aspects. First, I specialize in biotech and medtech startups, which as an MD PhD, I have an edge in evaluating. Second, using my skills as an executive coach, I assess the leadership teams, especially with regard to whether they can execute with focus while maintaining max optionality. Third, I look for companies who have designed innovative solutions to large unmet needs.

What tech trends are you excited about?

Currently I’m tracking the emergence of high-throughput diagnostics made possible by technologies like single cell sequencing and machine learning from large clinical databases. I’m also interested in medical devices and therapeutics to address unmet needs of large population segments, targeting growing issues like obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and malaria. Most recently, I have been following how technology will help physicians use data from electronic health records to improve workflow and clinical decision-making.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

My portfolio includes: First Light Biosciences, Joylux, Hemex Health, Mission Bio, Healionics, Virion Therapeutics, TransformativeMed.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

Having more women (or more diversity in general) in the investment community provides a greater range of insights. More problems are identified as opportunities, additional unique solutions are generated, and a more diverse set of entrepreneurial leaders are recognized to have the potential for success. None of us can see everything; thus I believe we must increase and leverage diversity within the investment community to produce the most innovative solutions to market needs and the best return.

Diane Fraiman.

Diane Fraiman, partner at Voyager Capital

Diane Fraiman joined Voyager Capital in 2008. Based in Portland, Fraiman was previously a marketing executive at companies including Sanctum, Informix, and Tektronix. She’s an investor in companies such as Elemental Technology, Act-On, Skyward, and others. 

What is your investment approach/thesis?

Voyager is an early stage B2B software investor in the Pacific Northwest. I represent our interests in Oregon.

What tech trends are you excited about?

Given the uniqueness of our region being the cloud Infrastructure leader, the innovation we are seeing in advancing the enterprise cloud market — apps, operations management, analytics, etc. — is very exciting. It’s been a long time since we have seen this level of disruption from the chip to the cloud.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

Elemental Technology, Act-On, Skyward, Lytics, SheerID and Stackery are some in our portfolio in Oregon.

Any comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

While the balance is still leaning toward the men in this field, it is great to see more and more women investors. I think that’s healthy for the venture community, the startup community and the ecosystems that support the region.

Stacey Giard, managing director at Tola Capital

Stacey Giard.

Stacey Giard helped launch Tola Capital in 2010. Giard previously spent eight years at Microsoft in product management and senior marketing roles. She’s currently on the board of SaleMove.

What is your investment approach/thesis?

Prior to investing, I held several roles focused on software marketing and sales. This experience grounds me in the needs of users and how software and data insights fundamentally become part of the way they work and become more effective in their roles. Whenever I see companies that have a major impact for their customers in their day-to-day work, I get excited about the potential impact of a company.

What tech trends are you excited about?

There are industries that have been underserved by software innovation. Oftentimes these are workers who are working in distributed scenarios and I am interested to see cloud computing and domain expertise coming together to create software to specifically address these scenarios. It is also clear that data insights that truly impact decision-making for key roles continues to evolve and create new value for workers. Additionally, as software architecture evolves with cloud computing, there are really interesting ways that building software is evolving that is fascinating and creating tremendous value.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

As a member of our investment team, I get to know every Tola company and I work across the Tola portfolio with leadership teams on their growth plans and go-to-market strategy. This taps into my experiences and also the experiences of our network of experts that I engage to guide our companies on their journey to scale. As a board member, I work closely with SaleMove as they enable the transition to digital customer engagement. I have also worked closely with ethics and compliance platform provider, Convercent as they have gone through an exciting phase of growth.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

I think we need women and men to work together to drive the shift in business culture and ownership to fully engage a diverse set of leaders with different perspectives and strengths. This industry is all about talent and so more talent means a stronger industry.

Katrina Glogowski.

Katrina Glogowski, founder, Green Flower Investments

Katrina Glogowski has practiced law for more than two decades. She founded Green Flower Investments in 2017 and looks to back cannabis-related businesses. 

What is your investment approach/thesis?

I invest in what I know and understand. I find that if my investments match my interests then I am on top of the news and industry trends.

What tech trends are you excited about?

Technology is changing so rapidly in the cannabis space as it becomes generally accepted and investments become more common. The industry needs to deploy as much technology as possible to stay competitive.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

I have personally invested in nine cannabis and cannabis-related businesses.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

Cannabis is also a wide open opportunity for women. I find a community of people working together to ensure success for each individual and an industry that welcomes the involvement, input and participation of women.

Serena Glover.

Serena Glover, angel investor

Before becoming an angel investor, Serena Glover spent nine years at Microsoft in various management positions and co-founded Twango in 2004. Nokia acquired her startup in 2007 and she became director of communities at the Finnish tech giant. Glover’s portfolio includes OfferUp, Groupit, and Livible.

What is your investment approach/thesis?

More and more I am focusing on diversified companies. Many studies show that diversity throughout a corporation leads to better returns with less risk. Those companies are often working on customer problems for specific segments that others haven’t thought of as well, so there are some big opportunities in less obvious spaces.

I also ask myself the question: does the world really need another one of those? I’ve gotten more selective in looking for companies that are really adding value to society, and I believe that many problems are better solved with for-profit companies that have a social good mindset.

I am currently spending a good portion of my time mentoring, especially women startup founders who don’t have access to the traditional networks of capital and early stage help.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

Some of the companies in my portfolio include OfferUp, Groupit, Livible, Pogo, Jobalign, and Crowd Cow.

Michelle Goldberg.

Michelle Goldberg, angel investor

Michelle Goldberg spent 18 years as a venture capitalist at Bellevue, Wash.-based Ignition Partners. She’s currently a limited partner at SoGal Ventures, a female-led millennial VC firm based in New York City. Goldberg’s portfolio as an angel investor includes Lovevery, Universal Standard, and TomboyX. 

What is your investment approach/thesis?

Early stage, some secondary and public equities. Focus on consumers, but invest in great entrepreneurs across categories.

What tech trends are you excited about?

AI — how to augment human experience with non-human analytics. Sharing economy in retail goods, supply chain disruption. With SoGal Ventures, how the next generation works plays and stays healthy.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

As an angel: Lovevery, Universal Standard, TomboyX, FlavorCloud, CrowdCow, SoGal Ventures, Julep.

Sheila Gulati, managing director at Tola Capital 

Sheila Gulati speaks at the GeekWire Cloud Tech Summit in 2017.

Sheila Gulati spent 10 years at Microsoft in various business and marketing leadership roles before co-founding Tola Capital in 2010. Tola invests in enterprise software companies around the world. Past investments include ybris and OSIsoft.

What is your investment approach/thesis?

My background has been in enterprise software – as a developer, as a business leader at Microsoft, and now as an investor. In founding a venture firm, my approach was to take those direct experiences building software businesses and apply them to identify areas of opportunity in enterprise, world-class tech company founders and developers, and engage with companies on their growth strategy.

What tech trends are you excited about?

There is a generational shift happening in enterprise software and we at Tola continue to find ways to invest in the areas of opportunity presented by cloud computing, data analytics, and enterprise mobility. We have found value being created in key categories like security, within specific industries like insurance, and horizontal scenarios like supply chain. It is really exciting to find areas of innovation driven by tectonic architectural shifts, such as with software development and the emergence of cloud computing. We also see great opportunity to serve specific users within the enterprise who need much greater software and insights in their hands to do their work most effectively.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

I have worked closely with companies across multiple stages of growth and investment. Past deals included hybris and OSIsoft where our team worked closely with the founders and leadership team to drive growth, engagement with investors, and achieve big outcomes. Today we work with founders across the entire Tola portfolio and hold board seats with our companies.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

There is great talent that can add value to both the software and venture capital industries. I can’t wait to see more of that talent, leadership, and capacity fully engaged in building the next generation of enterprise software.

Meredith Han.

Meredith Han, angel investor

Meredith Han was an early Amazon employee before she spent time at a Silicon Valley startup and went on to become a senior director at Brooks Running. Now she is an angel investor with groups including Alliance of Angels and Pipeline Angels. Past investments include Heroclip.

What is your investment approach/thesis?

A woman I really respect once told me she makes her career choices based on “People, Problem and Pay.” Those lenses makes a lot of sense to me both as a prospective employee and investor. Since there’s money to be made (or lost) in nearly any category, I mostly look for people solving problems I want to see get worked on or companies creating products/services I would personally be excited to use. What piques my interest is then admittedly somewhat subjective.

What tech trends are you excited about?

So many! I think the world will be a better place with more women running businesses, so I’m excited to see support building both for female founders and investors. Watching my kids, I’m excited to see how technology is really starting to impact education. I’m fascinated and a bit scared about the prospects surrounding AI and would like to learn a lot more about the space. Finally, while there’s still a long way to go, I’m excited to see broader conversation starting to happen on the ethical implications of various technologies.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

I’m new to all this. My first investment was in Heroclip, which is a carabiner with a rotating hook that’s been featured on Good Morning America and is sold at places like REI and Amazon. It’s a great product and was launched by Mina Yoo, who’s an amazing entrepreneur here in Seattle an is one to watch. I’m also invested with one other female-founded Seattle fintech startup.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

While the numbers are still way too small, there’s starting to be more of us. I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by how many resources there are here in Seattle for learning about angel investing and how welcoming the people have all been. Alliance of Angels and Pipeline Angels have been the two groups that have really helped get me started. Events at Seattle Startup Week and The Riveter are on my calendar to check out later this fall.

Elise Hebb.

Elise Hebb, partner and COO at Maveron

Elise Hebb previously spent nearly a decade at Madrona Venture Group as director of investor relations before she moved to Seattle-based Maveron in 2017 as partner and COO. Hebb also worked as a portfolio manager at the University of Washington. 

What is your investment approach/thesis?

As COO of Maveron, I focus on making sure our business is run as well as our best-run portfolio companies. That includes being a resource to our companies and help with hiring, PR, introductions to advisors, and creating opportunities for the leadership at our companies to network with one another, but it also means taking a leadership role internally to make sure we are putting founders first, supporting and managing our team internally, and focusing on our own operational excellence.

What tech trends are you excited about?

We often say at Maveron that it’s never been a better time to build a consumer brand and it’s never been a harder time. We like high barriers to entry, but some of the most exciting areas we are investing in are direct-to-consumer brands, which have some of the lowest barriers to entry right now. That said, when a company captures the hearts and minds of customers something magic happens. It is easy to start a consumer brand; it’s really hard to have it endure over time.

One of the other things that is so clear about consumer brands today is that they have to stand for something more than just profits and growth at any cost. In one way or another all the brands we work with are values-driven and I love that.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

Maveron has had the privilege to work with a number of brands across the country over our 20-year history. In Seattle, we were early investors in Zulily, one of the biggest VC outcomes the region has produced. We were also early investors in companies like August Home, General Assembly, and Trupanion.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

Venture capital is a small industry. When you work in tech it may feel like there are too many venture capitalists, but in reality there aren’t many of us. It has been hard to break into the industry no matter who you are, but nearly impossible for women. Today, it seems like it is still really hard to get a job in venture, but perhaps it’s closer to equally hard for men and women.

That said, I firmly believe that to build a world-class venture capital firm for the next generation it has to be diverse. Entrepreneurs will start to demand it, and decisions will be better as a result of different opinions, perspectives, and networks.

Sarah Imbach.

Sarah Imbach, angel investor

Sarah Imbach is a long-time angel investor based in Seattle. She was previously an executive at companies including PayPal, LinkedIn, and 23AndMe. Imbach invests in both consumer and B2B tech startups. Past investments include Outreach, LinkedIn, and WorkGenius. 

What is your investment approach/thesis?

My very first angel investment was LinkedIn, and I had no idea what I was doing as an investor, I was just betting on Reid. Since then I’ve made my share of mistakes, usually because I’m excited by a product or a space/industry but not really by the people. In the investments where I’ve gone back to the learning from that first investment, and bet on the founders I most believed in, I’ve been incredibly happy with the results. If I have a thesis, it’s that if I wouldn’t hire the team pitching me to run the company, I shouldn’t invest in the company.

What tech trends are you excited about?

I’m excited to see the progression of voice, and the continued movement to engaging with commonplace technology without needing your hands or eyes. I think the challenges of building and populating the data corpus for the machine learning models being developed creates interesting opportunities. I think there is enormous opportunity for high-value consumer software right now. And I’ve always been passionate about the adaptation and shift of enterprise software solutions into the long-tail and into consumer use.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

I primarily invest in tech companies, both consumer and B2B with the occasional foray into CPG — mostly in Seattle and the Bay Area. I’m currently serving on seven boards and have a formal advisory agreement with a few more companies. I also mentor for some groups and regularly do AMA sessions with entrepreneurs.

Angela Jackson (managing director) and Jenn Lynch (partner), Portland Seed Fund

Angela Jackson (left), Jenn Lynch (center), and Jim Hutson of Portland Seed Fund.

Angela Jackson created her own startup and was a marketing consultant before she helped launch Portland Seed Fund in 2010. The seed-stage firm looks for capital-efficient companies with high growth potential. Past investments include Auth0, Bright.md, and CrowdSupply. Jenn Lynch was a former product manager at Yahoo and Kronos before joining Portland Seed Fund in 2013 as venture partner. She was promoted to managing general partner last year. 

What is your investment approach/thesis?

Portland Seed Fund is a venture capital fund focused on early-stage companies headquartered in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. We look for capital efficient, high-growth companies disrupting large markets. As a sector-agnostic fund, we seek businesses that fit this profile from a number of industries: enterprise software and hardware; clean energy; apparel, footwear and outdoor equipment; consumer products and food; medical devices and therapies; and more. Many of our companies have leveraged non-dilutive funding for research and development, while others have crowdfunded early versions of their products.

What tech trends are you excited about?

Services enablement has changed so many of the industries in which we invest — from enterprise software to apparel. For example, AI/machine learning microservices have accelerated our most recent retail technology investment, Snap2Insight, enabling the company to provide nearly real-time analytics to the largest retailers in the world. Another recent investment, still in stealth mode, is accelerating the potential of the FPGA cloud.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

See our portfolio here.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

Two things — while it’s exciting to see more women joining the partnerships of existing, large-scale institutional venture capital funds, it’s even more exciting to see so many women who are first-time general partners raising their own funds. Venture capital isn’t just “Shark Tank” and company picking — investor recruitment and relations are a big part of the business, and it’s important that we have women exposed to all of those roles.

And secondly, we believe more women in lead investor roles will mean more women on startup boards. Women make up just 15 percent of board seats on Fortune 500 boards, and amazingly, that percentage actually decreases for smaller, newer companies. It’s established fact that diversity at all levels of an organization results in better outcomes for investors — it should be true at the governance level as well.

Robin Jones.

Robin Jones, venture partner at Elevate Capital

Robin Jones is a veteran tech executive and entrepreneur, having held leadership positions at companies including Motorola Ventures, Geoloqi, Esri, and Socrata. She’s currently the chief operating officer at Public Market. Jones joined Portland-based Elevate Capital in 2016. 

What is your investment approach/thesis?

At Elevate Capital, we serve a range of industries across the early stage spectrum — from food to outdoor apparel, from biotech to software. We place seed and early stage funding with visionary teams that are building businesses out of disruptive ideas. We specifically look to support underserved entrepreneurs that are challenged with raising funding. These entrepreneurs include women, people of color, and people in rural regions.

What tech trends are you excited about?

I am very intrigued by the new business models being unlocked by the adoption of blockchain technology. Smart deployments of tokenized networks and smart contracts have the potential to truly disrupt some large and entrenched industries, whether that is in the realm of healthcare, fashion, financial markets, commerce, energy and more.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

I have spent time with most of the founders in Elevate Capital’s portfolio, providing mentoring, support or just another set of hands when needed. It’s a very diverse portfolio, from Hue Noir’s line of makeup targeted at individuals with dark skin tones, to Hemex Health’s medical diagnostics platform to Hubb’s event management software — which means there is always a new and interesting set of issues to creatively navigate. In a past life many eons ago, I was an investment director for Motorola Ventures where my portfolio included Entropic Communications, Dilithium Networks, Rosum, Aligo, Identix, and Iconix Pharmaceuticals.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

Entrepreneurs are a diverse bunch. That means that they need a diverse set of advisors, board members and investors to compliment. We need more women and minorities in the investment world. Period. It starts with investing in underserved entrepreneurs, helping them grow their companies and achieve lucrative exits. This is how we will create a diverse new generation of investors. And I’m really honored to be a small part of helping make that happen.

Maria Karaivanova.

Maria Karaivanova, principal at Madrona Venture Group

Before joining Madrona as a principal investor in 2017, Maria Karaivanova was head of business development and partnerships at Cloudflare for five years. She was an investor at Intel Capital prior to that. Past investments include Pulse Labs, IOpipe, and Pulumi.

What is your investment approach/thesis?

At the early stage it’s all about the people so I look for exceptional founders aiming to disrupt industries and build products that customers love. My focus areas include cloud, SaaS, security, ML/AI, voice and IoT. I’ve invested in consumer internet in the past but my focus these days is on enterprise B2B.

What tech trends are you excited about?

Applications becoming intelligent applications by leveraging ML/AI to continuously improve, analyze and predict actions. Related to this are an increasing number of vertical ML/AI applications transforming what have historically been slower-paced industries.

Voice is emerging as the next big UI but unlike AR/VR, I view it as a voice-also, not a voice-only experience where a user can seamlessly transition from a voice-enabled UI, to, say, email/text or video and mobile.

Despite $21 billion being poured into cybersecurity investments over the past five years, security is still “hot.” I am excited about companies applying ML to the threat spectrum, security embedded at the firmware level and new identity management solutions.

Also: Blockchain applications specifically in supply chain management, identity management and other enterprise use cases, both within and outside of the token economy.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

From early to late stage: Pulse Labs, IOpipe, Pulumi, Envisagenics, Rigado, Wicket Labs, Igneous, Heptio, ExtraHop.

I’m also involved in several organizations including sea.citi, which Madrona co-founded to help provide a platform for tech workers to engage with their local communities starting with public education; and the Female Founders Alliance, which supports women startup founders and CEOs.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

The awareness of the underrepresentation of women broadly across tech and in corporate board rooms is clearly changing VC. The statistics that point to better performance when women are equally represented in the boardroom or on the executive team are quite telling. We at Madrona have made a conscious effort to help our companies appoint more women through initiatives like the OnBoardingWomen program and the #DiverseFromTheStart campaign, but still have a long way to go.

On a personal level, I think it’s a great time to be a woman in venture capital with organizations like AllRaise and the FFA providing new ways to connect with peers. Ultimately, an investor’s success is measured by financial returns and it takes a really long time, and hard work, to grow a successful portfolio. I am very fortunate to have incredible mentors, both female and male, to inspire and encourage me along the way, as well as role models with phenomenal track records like Aileen Lee, Maha Ibrahim, Sarah Tavel, and many others.

Genevieve LeMarchal.

Genevieve LeMarchal, partner at FoundersPad

Genevieve LeMarchal founded two startups before becoming a partner at Portland-based FoundersPad in 2016, when she also helped launch XXcelerate Fund, a loan-based financing model for women-led businesses in growth stage. Past investments include CrowdStreet, Droplr and Amplion.

What is your investment approach/thesis?

FoundersPad, which also includes my partners Star Verga Reed and Luann Abrams, believes that early stage startups need more than just an early infusion capital to give them the best possible chance of survival and performance. Our model delivers extensive support for our portfolio companies by matching them with a carefully curated team of expert mentors who are committed and properly incentivized to help them succeed. The majority of startups fail in the first 20 months, which is why FoundersPad companies have deep access to these highly-qualified resources at a critical stage in their company’s growth … without having to burn through cash to get them.

What tech trends are you excited about?

Because of our mentorship-focused investing model, we are able to have a diverse portfolio and still have the oversight, expertise and leadership within our companies to allow us to do so. So we have some wide-ranging focuses. AI/ML and data analytics are turning into a strong area of focus for us, as well as really exciting consumer-focused and lifestyle products and tech in very compelling niche markets. We’re seeing more and more blockchain-enabled companies these days and are watching those closely, and of course really strong software-as-a-service and enterprise software continues to be an area of interest for us. Any VC will say this, but it’s true that a strong founder that we really click with is the most important thing.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

Our portfolio has interest in several companies that include CrowdStreet, Droplr and Amplion. Most recently we’ve gotten involved in NoBake Cookie Co, Magic AI, ZibaHub, Dealpoint and Ella & Oak.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

I have many comments about this! I believe that women start businesses differently, they run them differently, and their companies operate and grow differently. Early data is showing that women-led VC-backed businesses operate as much as 12 percent higher revenues and more capital efficiently, yet women receive less than 3 percent of venture funding in our country, and less than 5 percent of SBA bank loans.

So inequality in the venture world is a systemic issue. It’s going to take a while to prove it out in the pudding, but it’s my intention for the leadership of our fund to help prove that given the resources, women-led VC funds will also show higher-than-average performance. It’ll take a while to prove it, because it takes several years for funds to deploy and mature and there are so few women VCs currently. But since there are starting to be a few women-led VC funds, I think we’ll start to see some performance numbers over the next couple years as their funds mature.

Loretta Little.

Loretta Little, managing director, WRF Capital

Loretta Little first joined Washington Research Foundation in 1989. She became managing director a decade later and still holds that position. Little is focused on Washington-based investment opportunities in the life sciences. Past investments include Phytelligence, Nexgenia, and Accium Biosciences. 

What is your investment approach/thesis?

Young companies in Washington that are addressing big markets in healthcare and the life sciences.

They need to clearly articulate: (a) how their unique solutions address the market need, (b) their major commercialization milestones (c) why they are better than the competition and (d) possible pathways to an exit for investors. The management team should include an experienced early stage entrepreneur or be able to attract advisors with this experience. As an early stage opportunity, I prefer companies that are structured and include investment terms that are close to “vanilla.” Complex cap tables and financing terms make “getting to yes” more difficult.

What tech trends are you excited about?

It has been really exciting to see both the growing number of young companies that combine IT and healthcare and some successful local exits. An executive with an exit usually wants to start another company and stay in Washington – which is great for early-stage investors like WRF Capital.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

Current: AbSci, Cardiac Insight, Phytelligence, TransformativeMed. Exited: CSATS, Mirador, Pacific Bioscience Laboratories/Clarisonic.

Any comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

I have been seeing many more angels groups focused on educating and generating more women angels and/or targeting women-led startup companies.

Regarding numbers, I am seeing about the same number (or even fewer) women VCs and more women angels, in general. I have seen a reduction in the number of early-stage VC funds in Washington that invest in the life sciences. And there has always been a dearth of female partners in these firms but the “role” of women partners has not appeared to change.

Amy McCullough, partner at Trilogy Equity Partners

Amy McCullough.

Amy McCullough spent time at Microsoft and JPMorgan Chase before becoming a partner at Bellevue, Wash.-based Trilogy Equity Partners in 2007. Her firm focuses on seed and Series A startups, principally in the Pacific Northwest. Past investments include Owlet, Skilljar, and Boundless.

What is your investment approach/thesis?

As a firm that is investing our partners’ own capital, we are looking first at the people and the potential for a deep, long-standing partnership with the entrepreneurs we invest in. In our experience, exceptional entrepreneurs have the athleticism to turn good ideas into great ones but the wrong team with a brilliant idea will likely struggle to get the velocity they need for a successful startup.

Given our focus is on Seed and Series A companies, principally in the Pacific Northwest, the thesis is that as typically the earliest professional money in these companies, we bring a hands-on approach to investing that marries a shared goal of supporting the entrepreneur in building a successful, transformative company with the broad operational experience of our entire partnership.

What tech trends are you excited about?

The rapidly changing world of “work” in a gig economy and the new businesses that are growing in many sectors that utilize dormant, human capital in unexpected ways is exciting and has implications for so many industries and society as a whole, particularly with the rise of millennials in the workforce as they enter their prime earning years. We have invested in several companies disrupting this space.

I am also bullish on the rise of companies that are enabling software-as-a-service businesses to realize their full potential with customers, Skilljar being a terrific example of a company capitalizing on the need for companies to effectively train their customers on a scalable, next-generation learning platform that enables customer retention and expansion to happen seamlessly.

Insight and performance data from wearables, sensors, or advanced materials companies that change the way consumers understand and take action on that information is driving the creation of some very innovative businesses.

Finally, companies that are re-thinking e-commerce and how, where, and from whom consumers make purchasing decisions is an area we are digging into as well.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

I am currently on board of Owlet, Skilljar, Boundless, Red Tricycle, and Carbitex. I am an observer at JetClosing, Jobalign, FireApps, and was previously an observer at Remitly for a number of years in the early days of that company.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

This is a funny business. I’ve worked in male-dominated industries and companies my entire career, all of which (in my experience), have been great meritocracies in which the real cream rises to the top, almost without regard to what the cream looked like or where it came from.

Our industry is different in that the ability for one’s potential to even really surface and be recognized, whether as an entrepreneur or an investor in the early stages of their career, seems to start with one’s ability to ‘belong’ to a tribe and having that tribe lift you up out of the fray and hoist you onto their shoulders. Until recently, I don’t think the VC/angel world had that tribe for most women, or at least not organized in a way that was accessible.

I see that changing with more and more female investors locally investing time and dollars into both getting more women involved in angel investing, hiring women into investment roles, and, most importantly, investing in female entrepreneurs. Organizations like the Female Founders Alliance are taking real actions to connect and build these bridges between female entrepreneurs and investors.

At Trilogy, our portfolio has consistently, over the last decade, had 10-to-15 percent of our companies with a woman in the founder/CEO role, something which I’m exceptionally proud of, as are all of my partners.

My view is that if you’re a woman and you’ve made it to a position where you have a say or are the say in the investing process, you should pay it forward and provide feedback and guidance to both other women on the investor journey and female entrepreneurs who are looking for someone to give them candid feedback and counsel on the next step when there isn’t a network or tribe to hold them afloat.

As a woman who drives investment decisions in our firm, I try to make as much time for those kinds of conversations as I can because it’s so critical to encouraging entrepreneurship and persistence in the face of what are otherwise daunting odds. And, it’s frankly the right thing to do if we want to expand the population of entrepreneurs in general.

Brianna McDonald.

Brianna McDonald, president of Keiretsu Forum Northwest Region

Brianna McDonald is a real estate veteran who worked at Windermere and Coldwell Banker Bain before she became president of Keiretsu Forum, Northwest Region. She’s also a managing partner at McDonald Ventures and a board member at ZGiRLS. Past investments include Immunomic Therapeutics, Exponential Entertainment, and Fast Data.

What is your investment approach/thesis?

In the 12 years I have been investing, my thesis has developed through my learning experiences. My current thesis is diversification in combination with the experience of the executive team. The key elements of diversification for me is both in business sector and region. I do not believe in putting all my eggs in one basket. I am able to fulfill this effort through my organization and being able to leverage my investor network and their experiences to make smart investment decisions.

What tech trends are you excited about?

Blockchain and Med Tech.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

Some of my investments include Keiretsu Capital LLC, Keiretsu Capital Co-Investment Funds I, II, and III, Immunomic Therapeutics, Exponential Entertainment, Fast Data, Theo Chocolate, Cone & Steiner, Joylux, Phytelligence, and Rain Globes.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

Background, experience and perspective is very important when reviewing early stage opportunities. Women think and assess opportunities differently than men. In my investment rooms women bring up many valid points to consider when launching into the due diligence process. Women also understand markets and market adoption, whether they realize it or not, as we are the primary consumers in most households. We need more women looking at early stage opportunities and bringing their knowledge in expertise to the table.

Kate Mitselmakher, general partner at Bloccelerate VC

Kate Mitselmakher.

Kate Mitselmakher is CEO, founder, and general partner of the Seattle-based firm and accelerator focused on blockchain startups. She’s also part of the Gartner Invest group. Mitselmakher has invested in bitcoin, ethereum, augur, factom, numerai, 0x, cordano, and a blockchain protocol called Hedera Hashgraph.

What is your investment approach/thesis?

In short, we believe in the value creation opportunities that blockchain can provide. We will invest in 50-plus blockchain startups from three categories: platforms, applications, and ecosystem.

What tech trends are you excited about?

This blog post I wrote reflects our thinking on the future of the space.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

I have been investor in blockchain for four years; some of my investments include bitcoin, ethereum, augur, factom, numerai, 0x, cordano, etc. As a fund, we have invested in the new generation blockchain protocol — Hedera Hashgraph — and a blockchain application for commodities like Xpansiv.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

Here is a Forbes article where I talk about this topic.

Gillian Muessig, CEO of Outlines Venture Group and founder of Sybilla Masters Fund

Gillian Muessig. (Brettapproved Photo)

Gillian Muessig co-founded SEO startup Moz with her son, Rand, before she launched Outlines Venture Group, a Seattle-based firm that invests in diverse founding teams. She is a board director and advisor to companies on four continents. Past investments include Life.cafe, Soro, and Spiral Genetics.

What is your investment approach/thesis?

If almost 98 percent of all venture capital goes to a very small demographic of founder, then it is likely that this sector will be over-invested and valuations inflated. We seek unicorns in uncrowded fields.

The Sybilla Masters Fund is a gender lens investment fund. This means that we require at a minimum, one dominant female founder on the leadership team in a position of strategic and operational control. An increasing corpus of portfolio studies that indicate that companies with gender diversity at the leadership level return higher ROI to their investors in both the private and public sectors informs our strategy here.

What tech trends are you excited about?

I’m excited to see more women engaging in early stage tech company investing, as well as in tech entrepreneurship. Companies that are addressing the changing demographics and lifestyles are of particular interest. GoCoBuy is addressing the increasing need for unrelated groups to purchase residential real estate. brettapproved has developed the first algorithm to provide standardized accessibility ratings for any place or venue on the planet for an increasing variety of accessibility requirements. Spiral Genetics is enhancing personalized medicine by developing ways in which the entire world’s genomes can be sequenced and stored. The aging population of the world, housing a continuously growing human population, building better ways to live on a warmer planet. These are all examples of companies that excite us because they address issues presented by emerging global trends.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

The Sybilla Masters Fund is new and is just now accepting qualified investors into the fund. Past personal and Outlines Venture Group early stage engagements include, among others, brettapproved, Life.cafe, Moz, Soro, Spiral Genetics, SYNQY, Stakana, trip.me, and Yakit.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

More female venture capitalists is directly correlated with more female founders getting funding. I believe there is not only correlation, but causation. This is exciting for female founders and for the world at large.

People solve problems they can see, relate to, and understand. From school to the workplace, entrepreneurship to healthcare, parenthood and beyond, the experience of women is distinct. With more women building companies that solve life, work, health, family, and other problems that impact women (and children) disproportionately, I believe we will see a significant uptick in the quality of life for many more communities worldwide.

New female investors express interest in and engage in impact investing more quickly than their male colleagues. Numerous reports have recently been published indicating that impact investing return high ROI to investors. With more people engaging in impact investing, even more data will emerge around this wonderful coincidence as well.

Lisa Nelson.

Lisa Nelson, managing director at M12

Lisa Nelson is a Microsoft veteran who became managing director of the company’s venture capital arm in 2016. She is responsible for several functions, including M12’s investments in the Pacific Northwest. M12 has 65 companies in its portfolio; Nelson led investments in startups including Pixvana, Zipwhip, and Make.TV.

What is your investment approach/thesis?

We invest in enterprise software startups (all B2B, no consumer). We generally invest in early stage companies (Series A – B) across the following areas: Big data & analytics, AI & machine learning, business apps, cloud infrastructure, productivity, and emerging trends.

What tech trends are you excited about?

As a fund, we are excited by the amazing, disruptive platforms being built across the focus areas I listed above. Personally, I’m most excited by what I’m seeing in the productivity space – new solutions enabling people to manage their work and lives easier, faster, better.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

We have over 65 companies in our portfolio. While I’ve invested in Zipwhip, Make.TV, Pickit, and Pixvana, I’m involved in all of our portfolio companies as I lead our portfolio development team. This team works with our startups to help them grow and scale leveraging the Microsoft ecosystem.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

I wouldn’t limit it to women, but I’d say diversity in general is starting to change the VC world. I’m seeing more diverse founders feel empowered to start the own companies and chase their dreams. I’m also seeing some of these founders that wouldn’t have been invited to pitch before now getting a seat at the table. It’s still early, and there is soooo much more to do, but I’m glad to have some diversity on the investing side to help bring the diverse founds to the conversation.

Yoko Okano.

Yoko Okano, angel investor

Yoko Okano spent eight years at Google, most recently on strategic partnerships, before working at startups including Smartwhere and Actively Learn. Past investments include RideAlong, Invio, and The Riveter. 

What is your investment approach/thesis?

I invest in great founding teams and missions that I believe in and also look for companies where my experience and background can be a resource. I also look to support and invest in founders from underrepresented backgrounds.

I co-invest with my partner, and with my partner’s data science and growth background and my background in music and experience in operations and partnerships, we dig into companies from pretty different perspectives. As part of angel networks like Grubstakes and Seattle Angel Conference, it’s important that I listen to and ask questions of investors who have different backgrounds from my own.

What tech trends are you excited about?

I invest with a long-term view rather than trends. This goes back to my focus on great teams that know how to execute.

However, the access to knowledge that technology provided me, and that I worked on while working on Google Books and News looms big for me. It’s not sexy or trendy, but I have a soft spot for companies focusing on bringing offline or opaque interactions or tasks online.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

Investments listed here.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

I saw a stat from 2016 that showed that women in the Pacific Northwest region make up 20 percent of angel investors. That drops off significantly as companies move up the chain to VCs. I would love to see investments at all levels come from investors from different backgrounds. This is vital to helping the companies in our region build great products for a wider audience.

Lee Otis.

Lee Otis, angel investor

Lee Otis is an angel investor with E8 Angels and director of business development at Palador, a Seattle-based enterprise tech company. She previously worked at Promium, Esri, and the EPA. Investments include Sentinel Healthcare and MDmetrix.

What is your investment approach/thesis?

My true focus is on Alternative Energy/Clean Energy startups. I am a former environmental scientist with the U.S. EPA with a desire to address climate change by funding technologies that can assist with the reduction of GHGs.

What tech trends are you excited about?

Clean Tech and Alternative Energy.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

My past investments have actually been medical technology startups that are truly still early stage: Sentinel Healthcare and MDmetrix. I have been mentoring a climate service technology startup that has produced a SW product to predict climate change vulnerabilities.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

There are not enough women in the VC/angel space. A recent Silicon Valley article by The Economist just mentioned only 2 percent of the funding in Silicon Valley went to women-owned startups. I do feel like there is some momentum for more women to participate in angel investments but it far behind where it should be in 2018.

Michelle Page.

Michelle Page, angel investor

Michelle Page ran her own consulting firm for nine years before joining Code.org as its chief financial officer in 2013, working there for five years. She’s currently the chief operating officer at Computer Science Teachers Association. 

What is your investment approach/thesis?

I’m fairly new to the VC space and I am learning a lot from others. I come from a mainly non-profit background and while I’m in this to build my portfolio and hope for the same great returns as other investors, I have a strong interest in companies that are doing more for the world than making money for investors.

I look for companies that are solving problems that make the world a better place, whether that’s developing a new medical technology that saves or improves people’s lives, promoting participation by traditionally underrepresented individuals in a particular area, or addressing environmental issues.

I look for more than a solid product or service, though. The people leading the organization are just as important, if not more important to me, than the product or service itself. My professional background is in finance and organizational development. This is an asset in the due diligence process when so many others are focused on evaluating the technology itself. When I am evaluating a new investment, I pay a lot of attention to the pitch and the team behind the company to look at their past experience, the construct and synergy of their teams, and their motivations for developing their companies.

What tech trends are you excited about?

The use of machine learning and artificial intelligence to rapidly optimize and enhance a product or service.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

I am currently invested in four companies.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

I can’t speak to the past role of women in the VC/angel world, other than to acknowledge that women were largely not there. The “boys club” mentality of the past resulted in a more narrow pool of companies that received VC/angel backing and which often excluded women and people of color. This means there have been many missed opportunities to back incredible companies and diverse founders who may have represented a broader range of products and services but which did not resonate with a middle-aged, white male potential investor. The addition of diverse perspectives in investing will continue to make this space stronger.

My hope is that because women are often strong community builders and evangelizers for things that matter to them, that they will attract even more women to the VC/angel space to help expand the range and diversity of investments we can make. I’m excited to see more women-backed VC firms and firms focused on investing in supporting women founders and founders of color.

Susan Preston.

Susan Preston, managing member of SeaChangeFund

Susan Preston is an expert in angel financing and angel organizations. She’s currently the managing member of SeaChangeFund, a Seattle-based angel group, and co-manager for the Element 8 Fund, a cleantech investment group. Preston has held 25 board positions with for-profit companies.

What is your investment approach/thesis?

SeaChange Fund takes a unique approach to early-stage investing, one which leverages the intelligence and experience of our investors into a disciplined and thoughtful evaluation process which leads to well-considered investments in dynamic companies. We encourage and promote their participation during selection and due diligence processes, creating an atmosphere of inclusion, community and enjoyment. We call our process the Rule of One. We have one point of contact for the companies. Our rigorous due diligence process takes about one month, and for the chosen startups we deliver one sizeable check.

Additionally, if we lead the round, we ask for a board seat. We take a very active role in supporting our portfolio companies, again leveraging the considerable experience and knowledge of our investors. We strongly believe each investment is a partnership and want to work together to create a successful company for everyone. It’s our primary objective. To date, we’ve been far more successful with our returns than the typical angel group or VC fund.

What tech trends are you excited about?

We are industry agnostic, rather focusing on the Pacific Northwest for our investments. We absolutely believe in Seattle as a primary technology/innovation hub, one of six such hubs within the U.S. Here we have a terrific combination of top notch academic research institutions, global leading technology companies and growing entrepreneurial spirit. We may play a small role as just one of many financial investors but I believe we play a larger role in supporting these entrepreneurs and the ecosystem in general.

We have made a number of investments in biotech/medical devices, as well as enterprise software, blockchain and cryptocurrencies, communications, and IoT. We continuously look for great opportunities that meet our investment criteria.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

I have been investing since 1999 and over the last nearly two decades have been involved with dozens and dozens of companies. At last count, I have served on about 25 for-profit boards over this time frame. I hope this extensive experience allows me to add value to companies.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

In 1999, I founded the first all-women angel group in Seattle. Since then we have seen a strong growth, particularly in the last few years, of numerous women-entrepreneur focused angel groups. We have seen a direct correlation between the increase in women angel investors and women entrepreneurs receiving investment. According to the Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire, women angels represented 19.5 percent of the angel market, a disappointing drop from 26.2 percent in 2016. Women-owned ventures were 26.9 percent of companies seeking funding and 23.4 percent of these women entrepreneurs received angel investing.

Carlee Price.

Carlee Price, angel investor

Carlee Price has spent 18 years in fiduciary roles on Wall Street, including stints at Franklin Templeton Investments and Rainier Investment Management. She’s currently a OCFO at Seattle-based Pique Financial Works. Past investments include Happily, PaidUp, and Sharkbite Games. 

What is your investment approach/thesis?

I invest across economic sectors and geographies, with a focus on non-traditional (traditional if you don’t know is white, male, young) founders and especially those whose understanding of the financial mechanics of their business is solid. On what numeric assumptions is their vision for this company built, and what are they doing to plumb their vulnerabilities? My rubric is numbers first, vision second.

What tech trends are you excited about?

Electronic medical records and data analytics. Exploring realistic blockchain use cases. Not a tech trend but a socioeconomic trend of focusing on diverse founders as a source of latent opportunity in the asset class.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

See our portfolio here.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

Actual changes in the behavior and structure of venture firms is slower than it needs to be. Angels have responded beautifully to increasing awareness around lack of diversity, but I wonder if we’re creating an eventual backlog where these same awesome founders will continue to encounter the same traditional hurdles as they seek bigger buckets of funding from a largely unchanged panel of VCs.

Heather Redman, managing director at Flying Fish Ventures

Heather Redman. (GeekWire Photo / Nat Levy)

Heather Redman held executive roles at Getty Images, Atom Entertainment, Summit Power Group, and Indix. In 2016 she co-founded Flying Fish, an early-stage software tech investment firm backing companies across the Pacific Northwest. Past investments include Streem, MessageYes, and Ad Lightning. 

What is your investment approach/thesis?

We invest in early stage (seed and A) startups based in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia, primarily AI/ML based.

What tech trends are you excited about?

AI/ML and AR/MR.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

At Flying Fish, we have a portfolio of nine companies, seven of which have been announced: MessageYes (acquired), Streem, Finn.ai, Ad Lightning, Element Data, Vivid, Tomorrow. And two more to be announced soon! I have an angel portfolio, am a limited partner in a bunch of our local funds, and was early at a couple of great Seattle companies: Getty and Atom Entertainment.

Any comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

Very slowly! The industry needs to do everything it can to get women and underrepresented minorities (URMs) on as many cap tables as possible. Founders and other investors can help by trying hard to reach outside of their usual networks to make sure they get women and URMs on their cap tables and everyone with capital can insist that their capital is managed by a diverse team (this includes your bank, your school if you give to the endowment, your charities, your government, etc.).

This isn’t a social justice issue — it is a survival issue. We can’t do as well as a country and a world if we don’t get 100 percent of the human capital working at its highest potential. Money is where power rests in so many arenas so it is crucial that women and URMs take an active role in controlling it, wielding it and managing it for the benefit of others. I am a firm believer that working at the top of the pyramid (investors) will ultimately have a dramatic impact on access for women and URMs all down the pipeline, even at the level of educational choices made by women and URMs.

In VC in particular, the number of women who are general partners is slowly growing, but are a rarity in quantities of more than one in a partnership, and firms founded by women are even more rare. We’re proud at Flying Fish to be setting the example of a firm that’s built for diversity from the beginning. Our cap table is diverse, our general partners are diverse and our portfolio companies have diverse founders.

Julie Sandler, managing director at Pioneer Square Labs Ventures

Julie Sandler.

Julie Sandler worked as a product manager at Microsoft, TeachStreet, and Amazon before joining Madrona Venture Group in 2011. Last year, she joined Seattle-based early stage firm Pioneer Square Labs and is currently a managing director. Past investments include Integris, Poppy, and Rover.

What is your investment approach/thesis?

PSL Ventures is a brand new $80 million fund focused on pre-seed, seed, and Series A investments in predominantly Northwest-based technology companies. We’re founder-driven in our approach — we sometimes invest well before the proverbial pitch deck is created. We invest all over the region, and can lead, co-lead, and participate in early-stage rounds. We love co-investing and working with other investors both within and beyond the Northwest, and given the vibrant community of founders and investors that are constantly buzzing around PSL HQ, we are usually doing just that.

PSL has both this venture fund and an affiliated startup studio. We invest in founders who have absolutely nothing to do with PSL’s studio-side efforts, and we also invest in PSL studio spinout companies (though we don’t ever lead investments in those spinouts). We have some of the strongest engineers, data scientists, designers, and marketers who are not only working everyday with founders to build new companies on the studio side, but also are available to support our venture-side portfolio companies (studio team-members have meaningful carried interest in the venture fund). So PSL’s entire team and community is here to rally around our venture fund portfolio companies and founders, part of what makes our investment approach special.

What tech trends are you excited about?

Right now: Specialized ML-driven automation applied to super unsexy, legacy sectors. New experiences, products, and services designed specifically for the “digital native” generations. Broader, holistic tech-driven solutions supporting human wellness and productivity. And, I’m a new mom so lately tech for baby/kiddos/parenting is interesting to me on borderline preposterous levels.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

Prior joining my partners to start up PSL Ventures, I was a partner at Madrona, and led the firm’s investments in Integris, Poppy, and Julep. I also previously was observer on the boards of Rover, Moz, and Peach.

Any comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

I’ve been lucky to work with a bunch of amazing women venture investors for several years now, and while I wouldn’t say our “role” itself is changing per se, there’s slowly starting to be more than “just a few of us” in positions where we can be influential in those roles. More women are founding new firms, joining big name venture funds in general partner roles, raising and directing huge amounts of capital, and helping support founders through very visible, successful company outcomes.

There’s such a long way to go, but the All Raise mission is on a roll. It’s also not a negative indicator that for the first time, I am regularly hearing from male counterparts across the country that they are deliberately recruiting general partners from underrepresented groups not because it “looks better,” but because it’s finally hitting home that they will miss out on the networks, opportunities, perspectives, and good old-fashioned table-pounding that drives the kind of bets that deliver great returns for limited partners.

Corey Schmid, general partner at Seven Peaks Ventures

Corey Schmid.

Corey Schmid spent six years at Philips Healthcare before joining Bend, Ore.-based VC firm Seven Peaks Ventures as a general partner. She’s a board member at Oregon Bioscience Association and on the innovation advisory council at St. Charles Health System. Past investments include Owl Insights, Bright.md, and Matcherino. 

What is your investment approach/thesis?

We are based in Oregon and primarily invest across the west, with a strong focus on the Pacific Northwest. Our focus on early stage, seed, Series A and as late as Series B. We are looking for investments in regional hubs that are primarily outside of Silicon Valley. We do believe there are opportunities to grow these regional ecosystems, whether Portland, Ore., or Boulder, Colo., where there are phenomenal entrepreneurs, a great quality of life, and a real gap in that early stage professional institutional funding beyond the angels where we feel we can really play a key role for those folks. My specific focus is digital healthcare.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

Opal, Cozy, Enlitic, Bright.md, Cricket Health, Amplion Research, Matcherino.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

I received an email the other day for women VCs in Oregon to set up a Slack channel — there were six or seven of us on that list. There is still a massive gap of women sitting in the same seat, as investors, which is unfortunate.

At the same time, there is a tremendous opportunity to do our jobs well, as a man or woman. I always like to say, I want to be a person at the table regardless of my gender or background. Diversity in all aspects — regionally, ethnicity, gender, life experiences — is what makes a phenomenal team.

I would love to see more women come across my bow as leaders of companies. Our job is to find the best deals, man or woman. There are some amazing opportunities in the Pacific Northwest and we have a progressive outlook here, which is heartening to me. I see an upswell of diverse entrepreneurs that are getting the support and opportunity that they deserve. It’s exciting to be someone in that ecosystem that can help fund, support, and mentor them to success.

I always look for those entrepreneurs who are humble enough to recognize they don’t know everything — I certainly don’t. It’s really valuable to see those leaders who build the right culture from Day 1 and support and grow all their employees around them and look to bring in investors that can complement and add to the picture. I actually think women are quite good at that — women are team builders, they really have a community mindset and are really collaborative. That often makes for a phenomenal entrepreneur.

Anisha Sood.

Anisha Sood, partner at Echo Health Ventures

Anisha Sood has more than 15 years of experience in the healthcare industry. She was previously an independent consultant at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a vice president of healthcare investment banking at Credit Suisse. She joined Echo Health Ventures in 2013. Past investments include TytoCare, Wildflower, and Carena. 

What is your investment approach/thesis?

Echo Health Ventures is a new kind of strategic corporate investor founded by Cambia Health Solutions and Mosaic Health Solutions. We invest in, build and grow tomorrow’s great healthcare companies, with a focus on healthcare technology and services businesses. Our approach is focused on going beyond capital and developing deep, high-value relationships with our portfolio companies to help them scale nationally. We believe that healthcare should evolve around the individual and are looking to make investments that improve access, efficiency and care within the system.

What tech trends are you excited about?

The healthcare system typically lags other industries in adopting the most current technologies, but we see a lot of promise in improving the delivery and analysis mechanisms that support the sector including: virtual medicine, big data analytics as well as precision/personalized medicine.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

Current portfolio (where I support via a board seat): Springbuk (Indianapolis) – intelligent employer analytics software, TytoCare (Israel) – devices that extend the diagnosable conditions via a telehealth visit, Wildflower (SF) – app that helps women navigate and manage pregnancy.

Recent exit(s): Carena (Seattle) acquired by Avizia, which subsequently sold to American Well, a large telehealth company.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

Women typically drive the healthcare decisions for their families so it’s important for leadership at healthcare startups to have gender diversity so they know how to engage this demographic. The need for gender diversity extends to VCs who can appreciate the innovations and invest in diverse management teams, which have historically not received equal capital and would benefit from a wider range of perspectives.

Kim Tennican.

Kim Tennican, angel investor

Kim Tennican is the owner of Berntson Porter & Company, a tax, accounting, and business advisory firm she launched nearly 30 years ago. She’s also the co-founder of Seattle’s Women’s Impact Fund, an angel investment group that supports women-founded social impact companies. Past investments include OtoNexus, Evrnu, and Invio.

What is your investment approach/thesis?

Great question. I always encourage those interested in angel investing, and any investor, really, to develop an investment thesis. My overall investment thesis I developed a few years ago is “to develop an impact investment portfolio that serves as a model for others by supporting meaningful societal and environmental initiatives while providing comparable market rate returns.” Angel investments provide more opportunity for impact investing than any other asset class, and the potential for positive impact is a key consideration in my process.

Having defined criteria has protected me from the bandwagon fallacy many times. Generally my approach is to only consider deals that appeal to my interests – it needs to be addressing a need or solving a problem I’m passionate about. And then I need to have the time, resources and access to information in order to properly evaluate the opportunity and the risks. I’m a huge fan of collaboration when it comes to evaluating deals and I rely on diversity to ensure we’re not group-thinking the decision.

What tech trends are you excited about?

BigData/AI – applications that are harnessing the power of data and automating the analysis to decrease inefficiencies in markets, provide more transparency and drive better decision making.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

Seattle Angel Funds I, II and III and SeaChange Fund IV, Seattle Angel Conference, fledge, OtoNexus, Evrnu, Invio, Vicis, Nativis, mpirica, Energy Storage Systems, Elevat.IoT, StepChange Data, Opanga Networks, Genomic Expression, FoodTrace, kidstir, Invio, Rethink Impact Fund.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

Resources such as Pipeline Angels, Next Wave Ventures, Portfolia and Female Funders have been created in the last five years specifically to increase female participation in VC/angel investing through education and empowerment. Increased female participation in VC/angel investing not only addresses the issues of gender disparity in asset allocation and investment returns, but it also creates a cascading effect of increased funding for women entrepreneurs, more board participation by women and more C-suite female leadership.

Valentina Vitols.

Valentina Vitols, angel investor

Valentina Vitols is the founder of Valentina Vitols Studio and Gratitude Interactive, maker of the Love to Thank app. She’s an active angel investor in Seattle and a limited partner at Next Wave Impact and Portfolia. Past investments include Blokable, Evrnu, and Slope. 

What is your investment approach/thesis?

Currently, I’m a member of Pipeline Angels, Alliance of Angels, and Hera Angels, and a limited partner at Next Wave Ventures and Portfolia. Being part of several groups and funds has given me the opportunity to look into various industries and understand where I fit best as an angel investor. I focus my investments on social impact-driven companies, women and non-binary femme led startups, and technology. I look for extraordinary founders that are good listeners, companies that create value and are exciting, and cohesive and committed teams.

What are tech trends you are excited about?

I will always support social impact-driven startups, especially those in technology. Currently, I’m very interested in FemTech and I’m excited to be exploring this space through my participation in the Portfolia FemTech Fund.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

Blokable (Seattle); Evrnu (Seattle); Slope (Seattle); BridgeCare (Seattle); Cone & Steiner (Seattle); Urban Translations (San Diego); Tod Squad (Los Angeles); Aperiomics (Washington D.C.); Wildfang (Portland); Brett Approved (Phoenix); Blendoor (San Francisco); Goalsetter (New York City); LOLIWARE (New York City).

These are all active companies. I’ve done follow-on investments in Blokable, Evrnu, and Slope. Planning on keeping this trend in 2019.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

Women are taking better ownership of their wealth and making it matter more than ever. We see market opportunities that men often ignore or pass, and this is tremendously helpful for women-led startups in particular. We need to keep this trend alive, and it’s part of our job to reach out to new, potential women angel investors and get them excited about becoming part of this movement. I can say that becoming an angel investor has been the most rewarding career choice I’ve made in my professional life.

When I’m asked what advice I would give to new women angel investors, I focus on three strategies: become a mentor, network with fellow angel investors as much as you can, and always reserve a percentage of money for follow-on investments. Being a mentor is very powerful as it helps us learn about the industries we invest in, and also gives us a better look into the entrepreneurs’ perspective; networking allows for establishing valuable relationships and an efficient and solid environment for deal flow; and saving part of our investment budget for follow-on investments allow us to truly support companies that are already in our portfolios, especially if they need to scale fast.

Kathy Varner.

Kathy Varner, angel investor 

Kathy Varner is a partner at VSH CPAs, a CPA firm based in Bellingham, Wash. She specializes in cross-border tax, business formation, and more. Varner also runs her own consulting firm. Past investments include WompMobile. 

What is your investment approach/thesis?

Diversify by industry; stay close to investment with board position; observation and/or financial statement issuance requirements; look for founders who are willing to exit early; investments with proof of revenue traction and reasonable churn; founders who understand cash flow and know how to raise more money or manage cash to break-even; avoid entities that will grow beyond their founders to high paid cash compensation management who may take on debt or preferred rounds at the expense of early angel investors.

What tech trends are you excited about?

B2B solutions that enterprise and SMB customers can implement to increase sales and improve operation efficiency and effectiveness, especially if it results in revolutionary and/or higher customer satisfaction.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

Several, too many to list since we invest with a fund and side cars — at least 50 companies over the past five years. Our investment IRR has been ~25 percent to date.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

Very small percentage of women in angel groups. I’m one of 40 in our local group and the ratio is small in the Pacific Northwest groups overall. I’ve successfully recruited three other women to our group but all of them have left within the 5-year period. Have observed a minority, but still too many males describing women angels as “intimidating” and also seem to discount their skills and/or opinions. But I believe the largest problem is that males aren’t as comfortable socializing with the women, which is how connections are made and business is done. My solution is to find those male investors who don’t find me intimidating and are comfortable with socializing with me as if I were a male.

Martina Welkhoff.

Martina Welkhoff, founding partner of Women in XR

Martina Welkhoff is a two-time founder who last year launched Women in XR, a firm that invests in VR/AR startups committed to equal gender representation. She’s also a venture partner at Jump Canon, a VC firm based in San Francisco, and was a former board president at Seattle Women in Tech.

What is your investment approach/thesis?

I’m primarily investing through the WXR Fund, where I am a managing partner. WXR invests in early stage spatial computing startups with at least one female founder or at least 50 percent women on the leadership team. Our investment thesis is rooted in both social and economic impact: WXR aims to help build a more inclusive industry from the ground up as well as leverage the unique economic opportunity that current demographic imbalances create.

What tech trends are you excited about?

I’m really excited about the potential for spatial computing to open up opportunities to learn, collaborate and connect in more intuitive ways. We’re seeing early examples of the kinds of creativity and innovation this can unlock and the transformative impact in industries ranging from healthcare to education to entertainment.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

We’ll be writing first checks this fall, and in the meantime 16 companies have gone through our virtual accelerator program (sadly none in Seattle yet!). The first eight companies are listed here. The current eight are here.

I’m also an investor in Jump Canon Ventures, a San Francisco fund investing in underrepresented founders in emerging tech.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

There’s been a distinct shift not only in the number of women in the space (there’s plenty of work to be done, but we’re making exciting progress), but also in the ways women are organizing and supporting one another. Efforts like All Raise and Portfolia are making it easier for women to build new relationships, share deal flow and information, and creating a sense of community and belonging. These networks are increasing the visibility of women in the space and will ultimately make our presence more sustainable and formidable.

Elaine Werffeli.

Elaine Werffeli, angel investor, 25-year Microsoft veteran

Elaine Werffeli spent 25 years at Microsoft, serving various managerial and director roles, before helping to launch data analytics startup Ecuiti in 2015. She’s an active angel investor in Seattle via the Seattle Angel Conference.  

What is your investment approach/thesis?

I am an active member of the Seattle Angel Conference and have been a member of SAC for the last eight rounds. Within the Seattle startup ecosystem, SAC supports entrepreneurs with some of the earliest stage funding in town. I subscribe to many of the data-driven findings from Rob Wiltbank for the potential of improved returns: Diversity within my investment portfolio in a number of dimensions, a significant amount of due diligence and knowledge of the investment space. I specifically look for strong, well-balanced teams, product/market fit with evidence of traction and insightful business model development.

What tech trends are you excited about?

Since my experiences are steeped in data and analytics, I am excited about the trends in big data, compute, ML/AI and predictive analytics to bring impact to improve business outcomes. There is so much potential to augment human decisions with supplemental insight from computational analytics. These tech trends themselves are interesting but what really gets me jazzed is when they are combined with real life application to help businesses accelerate into new frontiers. I am a firm believer that “vision without implementation is just hallucination.”

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

The foundation of my investment portfolio is centered on local SAC and Seattle Angel Fund (now SeaChange) finalists. However to expand my diversification, I have invested outside of these angel investment groups in promising startups, even ones in other cities.

Any other comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

In the 2017 HALO report, the national average shows only 13 percent of angel funding going to women founders and here is the Pacific Northwest, angels invested 18.5 percent into female founders. While the numbers on the whole need to increase, I am thrilled that this area is leading the charge for female entrepreneur funding.

I feel strongly that a more diversified investor community supports and creates a more successful startup ecosystem, so increasing the percent of women on both sides of the table is an important personal goal of mine. SAC is special in that we offer a 12-week, hands-on workshop style to teach new angels how to analyze and invest while also guiding 40-plus startups through the process leading to one final investment. I am proud that the SAC has been and will continue to be focused on increasing the percent and number of new women angel investors in Seattle.

Shelley Whelan.

Shelley Whelan, partner at Keeler Investments Group, board member at Alliance of Angels

Shelley Whelan spent nearly a decade at Intel in the marketing department before becoming at partner at Seattle-based Keeler. She joined the board of Alliance of Angels in 2012 and became an advisory board member at the University of Washington’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship in 2014. Past investments include Cleanscapes, C-SATS, and Eden Rock Communications.

What is your investment approach/thesis?

I primarily invest in Pacific Northwest-based companies looking for seed-to-Series A funding. I focus my investments on tech, and tech that Seattle is “best in class” in. I like to invest in great teams, solving a big problem in an industry they understand well, in a huge market.

What tech trends are you excited about?

I’m most excited about changes that machine learning/AI/computer vision will bring to our lives. Also augmented reality, blockchain, autonomous vehicles, 5G … the list goes on.

Past investments/portfolio companies you’ve been involved in?

Cleanscapes, C-SATS, Eden Rock Communications, HaptX, Integris, Jet Closing, Jobaline, m87, Modumetal, Rep the Squad, Samepage Health.

Any comments about how the role of women is changing in the VC/angel world?

I think change is very slow in Seattle. There are more women interested in this asset class and doing some part-time angel investing, but I think there are very few women who are VCs or doing angel investing full-time in Seattle. I don’t think the number of active women investors has changed much in the 12 years I’ve been investing.

Other investors from Seattle and Portland:

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