Leslie Feinzig, Venture Capitalist, her venture firm Graham & Walker, likes to pretend like an old, solid law firm. But aside from the name, there’s nothing obnoxious about it: her fund only invests in female and non-binary startups.
Originally called the Women Founders Alliance, it’s a relatively new name for her organization. Feinzag In 2021, she rebranded to attract more diverse founders and check writers to her portfolio.
“The number one danger we fall into is unknowingly branding our portfolio with a brand of difference,” she said. “And I mean that in the negative context of the word. We want our founders to stand on their own because they’re amazing founders. So what do we do? We need to be a super, high-signal VC. In her view, that means moving away from the firm’s pretense of making “diversity investments” and gender as a brand. It means getting a name that doesn’t include it.
Now, when she walks into the room, she says, “Leslie, the CEO of the Women’s Founders Alliance is very different from Leslie, the managing director of Graham & Walker. No one asks; It seems to belong.
That said, the investor still found a way to put the mission in his name: Kathryn Graham was the first female Fortune 500 CEO, and Madam CJ Walker was the first female self-made millionaire.
The goal of being a VC is to give back to specific partners, and there’s an understanding that a diverse startup ecosystem will produce better outcomes for all. Balancing those two, for female VCs, has often been seen in different, often frustrating ways.
A new generation of female venture capitalists is enabling institutional companies to start their own or grow through the leadership ranks. According to a survey analyzed by TC+, the percentage of women represented in directorships and key positions has increased significantly over the past two years, while the percentage of women in senior positions such as general partner or senior managing director is lower. 25% and has for the last two years. The levels are different. Slowly.
To put it simply: more women in ventures means bias and strategic branding are becoming increasingly important to big check-writers.