Lugano, Switzerland-based venture capital fund Privilège Ventures has just launched its fourth fund. The CHF 20 million (just over $20 million) fund is earmarked for early-stage female startups across Europe.
“We don’t just want to support women,” said Jacqueline Ruedin Rüsch, founding general partner of Privilège Ventures in an interview with TechCrunch. “The data shows that women in the driver’s seat have a better return on investment.”
The company says its investment thesis is based on statistical evidence that women outperform men in leadership roles.
“The numbers are staggering. “It’s not just about being ethical and doing good: if entrepreneurship rates were equal between men and women, global GDP would grow by 6%,” said Lucian Wagner, founding general partner of Privilège Ventures, in a press release.
The firm’s thesis is supported by Boston Consulting Group research on investment and earnings data over a five-year period. The study also found that startups founded by women received less than half of the average investment made in male-led companies, even though women-owned startups generated 10 percent more revenue over time.
“Worldwide there is very little funding dedicated to supporting female founders, and despite rapid growth in the VC industry, the percentage of female teams or gender-diverse teams is declining,” Roche said. I started my career in the banking sector in Switzerland: it was very male-oriented and to some extent still is. I got used to being one of the few women in large conference rooms and didn’t even notice it anymore. But when I got pregnant, the first reaction from my senior colleagues was, “When are you going to stop working?” “It was quite shocking, I must admit.”
As Alex reported in July, data from PitchBook showed that the percentage of venture capital deals that included at least one female founder fell from 19.4% to 18.2%. In Europe, the numbers are even worse. Privilège shows that in Europe, female founders receive barely 1% of all VC investments.
Privilège Ventures’ LPs are primarily high-net-worth individuals and family offices, the firm says, and the fund plans to write 15 to 20 early-stage checks, with initial investments in the $250,000 range.
I really like to invest in founders at the very beginning of their journey. Often we meet them even before they incorporate their company and follow them, train them and see how they take their first steps on their entrepreneurial journey. Due to our focus on the seed stage, we feel it is important to be as close as possible to our companies and therefore we have preferences for our local market, Switzerland and the surrounding European countries. We don’t specialize in a particular sector, but we have preferences, namely in the field of medicine, deep technology and in general for the digital economy. We like to get in as early as possible, even before we start, and we’re happy to continue investing in the best companies up to Series A.
The company says it would like to see more companies trying to solve real problems — solutions that can save lives, save the planet, and products that aren’t just “nice to haves” but “must haves.”
Our overall portfolio now represents more than 30% of companies with a female founder. As we aim to invest only in top performing teams, we need to ensure a strong deal flow and for that reason we will look not only at Switzerland but also at Europe with a greater focus on certain countries such as Italy, France and Europe. did Closer to us, says Germany, explaining why investing in women in particular still makes sense for the fund. Some point to the simple fact that having different points of view in the room leads to more thoughtful decision-making—some point to women who have fought a lot to get where they are. We’re seeing firsthand how women are being pushed to tackle problems that have been overlooked in technology—but can have a profound impact on the world. We already have startups with female founders or leaders working on using neurotechnology to improve sleep, fungicides to improve food, and biomarkers to continuously measure proteins and hormones to prevent and monitor health conditions.