Founding partner Theresia Gouw was a 10x Women 2.0 Awards honoree in February.
By Carolyn Abate (Contributing Writer, Women 2.0)
When we spoke to 500’s Christine Tsai about closing the gender gap, she had a great piece of insight: Don’t just expect men to fund female founders. Women also need to invest in more women. “The dynamics is all too often male investor, female founder,” she told us. “Having more women writing checks will help. A lot of that can be done with women making more decisions with their own capital.”
She’s not the only one with the same idea.
A major funding announcement last week by a relatively new venture capitalist firm is the latest example of women continuing to make inroads in the upper echelons of tech.
Aspect Ventures — founded by long-time friends and colleagues Jennifer Fonstad and Theresia Gouw — announced last Thursday that their firm successfully raised $150 million for its first fund. Their focus will be the Series A stage, meaning they’ll be writing $2 million to $5 million checks to either lead Series A rounds for early-stage companies or to partner on larger rounds.
The amount of money is significant because it elevates 15-month-old Aspect Ventures to the top ranks of VC firms currently at play in Silicon Valley. It’s more than even successful two-partner VC firms First Round Capital and Union Square Ventures raised for their first funds, Fortune reported.
Aspect’s focus is in emerging mobile markets, with an emphasis in data, analytics, and health. To date, approximately 40 percent of Aspect-funded companies boast women founders, which is about twice the industry average, according to the Diana Report.
Still, the duo have publicly stated they are not purposely focusing on female-led companies, but rather a diverse portfolio that will reveal a depth and breadth of start ups.
“It really is about creating an environment or a culture that celebrates different voices and different perspectives, said Fonstad on CNBC. “Because at the end of the day in our business it’s about finding really interesting companies, backing great entrepreneurs, and building a sustainable long term independent business.”
Since its inception, Aspect has backed UrbanSitter (Founder and CEO Lynn Perkins spoke out at our 2014 How To Conference), Kathryn Minshew’s career coaching and job matching network The Muse (formerly The Daily Muse and a PITCH finalist at the Women 2.0 conference in 2012) , and a mobile health coaching service called Vida.
The swift ascent of Aspect should come as no surprise to industry insiders. Both Fonstad and Gouw — who was an honoree at our inaugural Women 2.0 Awards for the 10x Award — come to the table with impressive resumes. Fonstad worked for 17 years at Draper Fisher Jurvetson and launched winning start ups such as Trulia and NanoString. Gouw hailed from Accel Partners, where for 15 years she built a successful portfolio including LearnVest and Birchbox.
Combined, Gouw and Fonstad have a portfolio of more than 80 seed and Series A deals to their name, according to TechCrunch. TechCrunch also reported that as a duo, they’ve created $10 billion in public market value.
Prior to their VC careers, the women worked at management consultant firm Bain and Company. They’ve known each other for more than 20 years. “We wanted to start a different type of firm that can bring a different perspective to companies,” Fonstad told TechCrunch when they announced the fund last February.