Investing in underserved needs and amplifying the voices of female founders and minority founders.
It’s challenging to write in a time of crisis. And more than ever in the 2020 events, we can feel the situation in the US can be so unfair. There are so many underserved needs just because of the way things are decided, and if we talk about entrepreneurs, how startups are funded.
I grew up in France. I’m now Californian.
I was lucky enough to travel across Europe, Asia, and America for my different jobs.
For me, America was the country where everything is possible, and where everybody can be successful, with multicultural leaders, purpose-driven entrepreneurs building new global companies, shaping our future.
America becomes more racially and ethnically diverse, and Silicon Valley for me was the place building workforces that reflect these changing demographics as aiming at impacting the world.
California is for me, the place to be for founders building platforms, caring about people’s lives for the better. The place for Change-makers, building our future.
I’m grateful to live in California. Happy to be in Venice, Los Angeles, after 4 years in San Francisco, the heart of the Silicon Valley.
I didn’t change my mind, but I must acknowledge that Silicon Valley is still badly lagging in its effort to achieve gender equality, and foster more racial diversity within its companies, especially black and Hispanic people represented in tech.
Talking about Fundings, we have a long way to go to have more women, minority founders backed by VCs. It’s not just addressing inequality, it’s about tackling underserved needs.
DIVERSITY POWERS INNOVATION. WE NEED MORE FEMALES FOUNDERS AND MINORITY FOUNDERS BACKED BY VCs.
In the last four years, I was lucky enough to meet hundreds of female founders and minority founders.
Some of them had terrible stories to share, with disturbing behaviors, including harassment and disrespectful attitudes. Most of them were sharing the difficulty of having a conversation with VCs. “I’m not like them,” “I don’t have the network”. “I feel they are not feeling comfortable”.
Three years ago, revelations came as shockwaves through the Silicon Valley and Venture Capital industry. Most partners VCs were white male and 50+, and 16% of female founders were only receiving no more than 2% of the fundings.
Since then, a few improvements have taken place. The most important one is having more Female Partners making decisions at the top tier VCs.
The newly promoted partners are active in key organizations such as All Raise Org, or the Board List, among other ones, take time to mentor young founders after work, and keep long term relationships to guide them.
And there is a lot to do. Especially if you think that half the population is women and that they decide many of the purchases for their couple, family, and tribe. And that black women make up 14% of the US women’s population. Latinx women make up 17.6% of the US women’s population.
Not only do women overwhelmingly dominate consumption, but they build businesses that leverage their insights as customers. And they are uniquely positioned for that.
Many female-run companies focus on e-commerce, lifestyle, and other consumer-facing sectors, direct-to-consumer brands.
The recent weeks have seen some inspiring role models, VCs, and non-profit leaders raising their voices and try to help other VCs be more aware of their cognitive biases, and how we should address the issue of racial diversity in Venture Capital. You can read Arlan Hamilton Backstage, Lo Toney PlexoCapital, or Frederick Groce founder of Blck VC.
60% of all LatinX Women-led startups are located in California and NY, 50% for Black Women-led startups. I believe we can begin a movement in L.A. and SF.
WE CAN ALL MAKE A DIFFERENCE. I FOUNDED A COMMUNITY FOR MULTICULTURAL LEADERS. I’M NOW THE PROUD FOUNDER OF FAB VENTURES, Seed stage. D2C.
In the past couple of months, every time I have been angry or a bit anxious, I focused my attention on what made me grateful these last years. And what could make me joyful and optimistic about the future. Three years ago, I learned a lot in my mentorship hours, and I decided to found a community about Fashion and Beauty, helping founders to meet other founders, and to connect with investors sharing the same passion. Sharing learnings, insights, being smarter together, raising our voice.
FaB Fashion and Beautytech community began with ninety entrepreneurs and VCs, and 17 nationalities in my living room (it was before corona-19 and that seems 1000 years ago!).
There was great energy, and famous companies in the Bay Area decided to host us and support the movement, and soon it became a global community in North America, Europe, Asia, and Latin America, thanks to amazing local Fab chapter leaders and founders.
All of us believe that we are stronger together. And that the pay forward culture (dear to the Silicon Valley) is a great culture.
One year ago, during the summer break, I woke up thinking that I was not fixing the main problem: finding money to grow a company in the first miles (after the first check from initial Angels and before the $2m revenues), especially when you are a Direct-to-Consumer brand.
Angels and VCs naturally prefer to invest in areas they know, which in the Silicon Valley means primarily B2B and SaaS solutions. In consumer goods, investors usually come when the startups show the right traction metrics needed before scaling.
In this context, many founders may struggle to raise money, especially if tackling women’s needs: talking about the body, the cycles, being pregnant, menopause symptoms, or just simply skincare rituals, hair loss, non-invasive procedures or sexual wellness.
And if in fashion, talking about circularity, up-cycling or second-hand clothes struggling to explain what problem they fix. They would be understood in one second by a woman used to swap, rent, purchase vintage clothes on platforms.
Some conversations may become more difficult, embarrassing when it’s not your comfort zone, or when you can’t relate to the situation.
A young German founder, part of the conversation at Fab Berlin meeting, was joking about a big company fixing erection issues and hair loss and having raised more than a quarter of what all women founders in FemTech had raised in the last 2 years.
I truly believe we can all make a difference. I believe in funding female founders and minority founders at the early stage, creating a community where they can share experiences.
I wanted to support founders who care. Investing in a diverse team that drives innovation, tackling underserved needs that require an intimate understanding of certain problems. Founders who build a community, try to make people’s lives better. A more sustainable way of living, taking care of our mind and body, and our impact on the planet.
We are grateful for the support we have received from our first investors, including family offices, iconic business angels, luxury retail and beauty corporate ventures.
It’s helpful to have close relationships with later stage Venture Capitalists in the Silicon Valley and an inspiring ecosystem in Los Angeles. I decided to move to L.A, where the diversity of profiles- entertainment, lifestyle entrepreneurs, tech, and all ethnicities, represents a huge potential for new brands and platforms.
We are a lean structure, company builders offering operational support for accelerated growth. We begin with the customer and the community. We believe in the power of brands and design. We care about the formulation, ingredients, regulatory, packaging, manufacturing, supply chain, and logistics. We are data-driven.
Founders we back think on how to keep their customers happy, leveraging their understanding of their needs, listening to them. And they want to make their path towards profitability for sustainable success.
I didn’t position Fab ventures fund I as a minority founders fund, or a female founders fund. And as I took the path of being about performance, it took me more than 1 year to achieve the first closing of the fund. Raising the first fund is a journey, pretty similar to the one of an entrepreneur raising money, and it gives you a lot of humility.
I’m proud to say that when you invest in women’s wellness, FemTech, clean beauty, sustainable fashion…you back mostly women entrepreneurs, and minority founders. They care!
I call them “purpose and data-driven founders” They are shakers, rules breakers, change-makers, they aim at changing the world for the better.
Fab Fund I will focus its investments, with an active 3-year period commencing as of the initial companies that:
- Are emerging consumer Platforms and Brands in Femtech, wellness, Clean beauty, and Sustainable Fashion & Luxury.
- Build connected Communities with shared interests, with curated content and specific products and services (on and off-line).
- Are Powered by tools and Technology: software, diagnostics, tracking of data enabling customers to address their own health and wellness, allowing them to choose.
- Serve/share values with the rising generations, Gen Z / Millennials, and underserved generation, Boomers. Inclusiveness is in their DNA.
We aim to increase awareness of the impact of beauty and fashion purchasing decisions on the environment and our health, and life in general. Experience is the new luxury.
We are excited to put this capital to work, backing bold entrepreneurs.
Our first 7 investments are in:
Bloomi is revolutionizing the sexual wellness category as the first online multi-brand marketplace for intimacy.
Bloomi is founded and led by WoC health activist and Latinx Sexologist (graduated from UC-Berkeley, and holds a Master’s in Sexuality Studies), Rebecca Alvarez Story.
Stix. The future of women’s health designed by women
Founders Jamie Norwood and Cynthia Plotch created Stix because buying a high-quality pregnancy test should be easy and delightful, no matter the result you’re looking for.
Khairpep (Aquis). The clean hair care endorsed by hairstylists for damaged hair.
Suveen Sahib and Britta Cox are serial entrepreneurs and believe in their mission ‘less is more’. When it comes to hair care, their San Francisco- based start-up, applies bioengineering and other science-backed solutions that work with the biology of hair to support hair health.
Docteur Elsa Jungman. The true Clean Beauty skincare for sensitive skin, protecting the microbiome.
PhD, is a French renowned skin pharmacologist. She suffered from toxic shock syndrome, which sent her to intensive care and triggered extreme sensitivity. She embodies the new wave of clean beauty with radical honesty.
EMPOWERING GEN Z…
Empowering Gen Z with beauty products and skincare, with an inclusive definition of beauty, for all spectrum. Vegan. Cruelty-Free. Clean. Sustainable. Multipurpose.
Founded by David Yi, a proud Asian American founder, a beauty influencer, and a powerful voice in the industry.
Founder of the VeryGoodLight, an authentic, diverse, and fast-growing community with more than 1 Million unique visitors. Seeing Beauty from another perspective. Talking about identity. Exploring masculinity. Putting forward underrepresented communities, raising their voice as they felt excluded from the beauty conversation.
NEW RETAIL AND SERVICES
Foxeye. Precision Lash. Revolutionizing beauty services with automation.
Lynn Heublein is the Executive Chairwoman. She has already founded Skin Spirit. Medi-spa 14 years ago. Disrupting the industry replacing a 2 hours service with a 15 mn one.
Thousand Fell. Full circle footwear.
Recyclable sneakers designed to never go to landfill.
Co-founders Chloe Songer and Stuart Ahlum have backgrounds in retail and supply chain. They wanted an accessible price point for consumers and build a tech platform for brands.
We choose founders who care. We are honored to back them. They build great products, engage with their community with an authentic tone of voice, try to share content educating their customers, tackle underserved needs impacting people’s life. They believe in sustainable living, inclusivity. We’re here to support them in the long run.
I hope to have the opportunity to continue the conversation with you.
If you are an investor, welcome on board, Fab Fund I had the first closing in May and is open in the year to come for new investors.
If you are an entrepreneur in the US, or considering to come in the US, let’s talk about your startup, and I will be happy to connect.
If you are a VC, wanting to drive real change, we are looking forward to working with you.
Thesis: Direct-to-consumer, sustainable & inclusive
Criteria: purpose and data-driven founders
Location: Bay Area/ LA investing in the US
Check Size: $50k to 450k. average $250k
Contact FAB ventures: