digest | the Helm: this fresh fund is investing in female innovators

Growing the next generation.
January 20, 2019

— the story —

Modern investment is fostering projects created by women.

The Helm is a new financial investment fund — plus a support community — helping start-ups founded by women. Female entrepreneurs get less help when they reach-out to raise money for their projects + companies, compared to start-ups founded by men. Numbers show that women also get less money from small business bank loans, compared to men.

So both in credit and capital, women-owned businesses need help. But women are also thriving — today, more female inspired ideas, projects, shops, services, solutions and applications are making waves in the marketplace and in our everyday lives. One reason is: sprouting communities by-and-for women entrepreneurs. Another valuable help is today’s mainstream web. The web connects, unifies, and offers new ways of doing business.

The female founders at the Helm are doing both: financially investing in women’s projects, and using digital tools to nurture a community that supports women’s start-ups — helping bring their dreams to life: with mentorship, counseling, practical know-how and encouragement.

The Helm is getting attention from well known publications and broadcasters, and showcases a new model to level-out the lack of equality for women in society. The group’s investments are smart, organized, and highlight best business practices. They offer a magazine style newsletter called Women at the Helm with advice, inspiration, practical stories, plus a product collection. A novel approach to investment, the Helm is focused on well-being — with financial success + personal success braided as 2 parts of a whole business. The group invests in early stage projects, with a tech focus, and managed by a female CEO.

in this story:

  • materials from the Helm
  • numbers on the gender equality gap in business investing
  • resources for start-ups + female entrepreneurs

on the web | pages

the Helm | home
the Helm | newsletter: Women at the Helm

The Helm
31 west 8th Street — no. 2
New York, NY 10011

on the web | learning

Wikipedia | entrepreneurship
Wikipedia | start-up company
Wikipedia | business loan
Wikipedia | angel investor
Wikipedia | investment fund
Wikipedia | venture capital
Wikipedia | maker culture

— by the numbers —

institution: University of New Hampshire
center: Center for Venture Research
report: the angel market in year 2017

  • in 2017 — Women owned ventures totaled almost 30 % of all entrepreneurs asking for angel capital investment.
  • in 2017 — And 23.4 % of the women entrepreneurs received an angel investment.

Center for Venture Research is under the College of Business + Economics.

— by the numbers —

government: US Census Bureau
report: women owned businesses

According to the most current — and now out-dated — numbers from the US Census Bureau — 35.8 % of US businesses are owned by women. And that number is growing. They need investment and loans to: get started, maintain a healthy business, grow + stabilize.

Many new kinds of businesses are emerging — now that almost every company uses the web for advertising, design, outreach, sales or to support its customers. That means traditional businesses like restaurants, retail stores, personal care products and services all have burgeoning opportunities now that the web is fully mainstream. On every laptop and smart-phone businesses are bustling. New entertainment companies are also evolving — as well as new digital and web-connected products that play a key role in modern services and home goods.

In the enterprise markets, we’ve entered a new age of software-as-a-service and customized business applications — all based on the web. Today women have better access to higher education — for example: web schools, digital learning materials, new communities that support women’s progress — and women are fully participating in the computer era with business ideas of their own.

Easy-to-use web publishing toolkits are now available to everyone — at any skill level. In weeks or months a product, concept, or publication can be designed and posted to the web with print-quality craftsmanship. Turn-around time for reaching customers, and logging sales is fast and efficient. Accounting software for home office makes owning and operating a business streamlined.

This means that modern software plus municipal web access help all businesses prosper, and help new ideas seed + grow. Today’s web is democratic, offering amazing opportunities that — especially women — have not had in the past. It makes sense that our new era will be a time for equality, for women in business to flourish.

on the web | learning

Wikipedia | enterprise software
Wikipedia | software-as-a-service
Wikipedia | mobile app

US Census Bureau is under the US Economics + Statistics Admin. under the umbrella of US Dept. of Commerce.

— by the numbers —

research firm: Pitchbook
analysis: When it comes to closing the gender funding gap — there’s no silver bullet

  • includes chart: female founded start-ups raise only a small portion of overall VC investment

Fortune | Female founders got 2 % of venture capital dollars in 2017

  • includes chart by Pitchbook: total value of VC deals by gender
  • includes chart by Pitchbook: total number of VC deals by gender
  • includes chart by Pitchbook: female founded companies as percent of total VC deals / dollars

Pitchbook is a financial data + software business under Morningstar co.

— by the numbers —

government: US Small Business Admin.
story: US Small Business Administration micro-loan program celebrates 25 years in business

  • small businesses unable to access capital elsewhere, benefit from $50,000 loans at low interest rates
  • small businesses can use the loans to grow their business, create or keep jobs
  • 48 % of businesses getting micro-loans are owned by women
  • 41 % of businesses getting micro-loans are start-ups
  • by comparison — less than 20% of conventional bank loans are made to women

US Small Business Admin. gives support to entrepreneurs + small businesses.

on the web | resources

US Small Business Admin. | main
US Small Business Admin. | your business guide — plan, launch, manage, grow

— by the numbers —

government: US Senate Committee on Small Business + Entrepreneurship
report: 21st century barriers to women’s entrepreneurship

This most current — and now out-dated — report from the US Senate said:

  • women entrepreneurs get 4 % of the total dollar value of all small business loans
  • women entrepreneurs get 7 % of venture funds
  • We need updated data to track the persistent lack of equality for women business owners — to fix the gap.

US Senate Committee on Small Business + Entrepreneurship researches + investigates problems.

on the web | resources

ReThink Impact | home

about | The firm ReThink Impact is the largest US impact venture capital group with a gender lens that invests in female leaders using technology to solve the world’s biggest problems.

ReThink Impact believes that the next generation of extraordinary companies — in health care, environmental sustainability, education, and economic opportunity — will find success through their relentless pursuit of mission, for the benefit of all communities.

Through our extensive network of entrepreneurs, mentors, and decision makers, we’re changing the way people look at social impact. Our diverse community of committed investors from across the country stands with women. We are a conduit for their values and desire for change. Change in how business gets done and how the investing industry works. 100 % of our portfolio of investments: women on the executive team.

Together, we believe the next generation of the world’s best businesses will succeed through their relentless pursuit of positive impact and a commitment to diversity that starts at the top. ReThink Impact is a female focused venture capital firm. We raised $112 million to put towards these ideas. We’re investing to change the game — for people + planet.

description: by ReThink Impact

on the web | resources

American Express | story: Where are the resources for women owned businesses?

  • Women-owned businesses run into a funding + financing gap that can impede their success.
  • There is good news: several resources are available to them.

on the web | reading

Forbes | How new venture capital fund the Helm is supporting female founders
| How women entrepreneurs are closing the venture capital gap

Entrepreneur | Why investing in women led start-ups is the right move
deck: Research + personal experience have shown women entrepreneurs are a good bet for this angel investor.

CIO • by IDG | Investing in women
deck: How the Helm is shaking up the VC world

the Balance • by DotDash | Do companies with female executives perform better?
deck: Women in the C-suite can help the bottom line.

on the web | learning

Boston Consulting grp. | home
Boston Consulting grp. | report: Why women owned start-ups are a better bet

special section: profile
description: by the Helm

a. |  the Helm — INVESTED in WOMEN

The Helm makes it easy to invest in women. We bring you the best female founded products and companies, tell you why they matter, and connect you with ways to support them directly. And when we say we are invested in women, we mean it. The Helm’s venture fund invests in female founded start-ups — putting capital behind the next generation of leaders in tech + innovation.

The Helm is a community and a venture fund that re-thinks how people invest in female entrepreneurs — a segment of the financial sector that received only 2.5% of all venture capital in 2016 despite consistently outperforming all-male teams. An alternative to philanthropy, the Helm believes additional value can be created for investors — both female + male — through:

  • bespoke experiences
  • venture education
  • exclusive content
  • behind-the-scenes tours
  • behind-the-scenes series

b. |  the Helm — OUR MISSION

We’re making venture investing truly equitable. And we’re changing the equation on both sides. If you’re a female founder who needs to raise capital — the odds are stacked against you. Of the $58.8 billion dollars invested by US based venture capitalists in 2015 alone, only 7 % of that funding went to female entrepreneurs. For women of color that percentage drops to 0.2 %. In 2016 — despite the enormous attention on this issue — the amount of capital invested in female founders actually dropped to 2.5 %.

We’re dealing with this from 3 sides:

no. 1 — We’re expanding women’s access to capital. Our fund invests in female founded companies with female CEOs. We’re putting resources behind woman in tech + innovation — at the helm of projects that will change culture.

Despite being under-estimated and under-funded, there’s an increasing amount of data that shows female founders out-perform male founders — consistently. Venture-backed start-ups with female founders have a 35 % higher return-on-investment — and female teams tend to generate 12 % more revenue on average. This out-performance continues once companies go public.

no. 2 — We’re up-ending the system by changing who’s invited to do the investing. Typically, men with wealth are invited to invest their money + amass more wealth. Women are invited to give away their money philanthropically. Who receives capital — and who’s asked to invest it — is biased by gender. Philanthropy can’t be the only pathway to equality.

no. 3 — We’re re-imagining the experience of investing — to create value beyond the term sheet. Helm members get access to exclusive events + content, customized perks, and empowerment through education.

c. |  the Helm — OUR FUND

97.5 % of the most valuable capital supporting innovation shouldn’t only go to male founders. Female voices have a role in creating companies, tech, and systems that will shape our future.

Our fund invests in early-stage, high-growth tech companies with women at the helm. We invest in 8 -to- 12 deals per year, most at seed stage. We give our founders strategic support to grow their business. We create value for our portfolio investments plus our member community.

d. |  the Helm — WHY VENTURE

We’re focused on venture capital — the risk-taking financial support for new ideas becoming business. Currently it’s not accessible to women. Venture investing is one of the most unfair forms of capital.

Of the $58.8 billion dollars invested by US venture capitalists in 2015 — a small 7 % of that funding went to female entrepreneurs. In 2016: that number dropped to 2.5 % despite the cultural spotlight on this problem.

Access to venture capital is plagued by gender discrimination. Investors evaluate men on vision + promise. But women are judged on proven history. We see brilliant, tenacious women innovating necessary companies — but struggling with funding. It can take 6 months + 100 meetings to close their seed rounds — or they’re forced to take alternate types of funding that lock them out of the networks.

So if we want the future to include companies that consider women, are led by women, and create wealth for women — we need to invest in them now. When women finally break-through and get access to capital, they out-perform their male peers. This is an avenue for impact: investing directly in female founders who will be the wealth of tomorrow.


We invest in female innovation. To qualify as a potential investment for the Helm you must be: an early stage, tech-enabled company, helmed by a female CEO.

What we look for:

problem-driven businesses — Having a large addressable market is important for any venture-scale business. But companies we like best have insight into a pervasive, challenging customer problem. We invest in solutions that promote resource efficiencies — leveraging tech to increase accessibility, creating products for under-served consumers, and enriching the eco-system.

experienced founders — At the seed stage: the composition, experience, character of the founding team are key to our investment decisions. Founder vision plus professional + personal background tell us why a team can solve the problem they’re considering.

tangible product — We’re seed investors. So we won’t be writing a check into a company before there’s a tangible MVP — plus feedback from customer testing. Our expectations for traction change by industry. We look for data showing a passionate group of early users.

We’re active partners to the companies in our portfolio. Once the Helm is invested, we leverage our network of members, advisors, mentors — for strategic support to our founders as they scale. Our community is a diverse mix of people — enthusiastic about resources for female founders. Their experiences range across industries: media + tech, business, artists + activists. Together, it’s an influential + sophisticated circle.

We like to meet with founders as early as possible. We want to know you, so you can know us. We meet with founders at the idea stage. And we’re happy to be a sounding board + friend — before we become the investor.



— notes —

* VC = venture capital
* MVP =

* IDG = International Data grp.
* BCG = Boston Consulting grp.

[ story file ]

story title: digest | the Helm: this fresh fund is investing in female innovators
deck: Growing the next generation.
year: 2019
section: digest

[ end of story ]