In a guest post for Women In Web, Boris Wertz, a founding partner of Version One Ventures shares his thoughts on the rise of VC backed female founders and the future of venture capital.
Boris Wertz is one of the top early-stage tech investors in North-America and the founding partner of version one ventures. His portfolio encompasses over 50 early-stage consumer internet and enterprise companies, including Clio, Edmodo, Flurry, Frank & Oak, Indiegogo, Julep, Top Hat, Unbounce, and Wattpad. Boris is also a board partner with Andreessen Horowitz and one of the founders of start-up accelerator GrowLab.
Before becoming an investor, Boris was the Chief Operating Officer of AbeBooks.com, the world’s largest marketplace for new, used and rare and out-of print books which got sold to Amazon in 2008. Boris joined the company in 2002 after JustBooks, the German company he co-founded in 1999, was acquired by AbeBooks. At AbeBooks, Boris was primarily responsible for marketing, business development, product, customer service and international operations and lead a team of about 60 people. This deep operational experience helps Boris to help other entrepreneurs start, build and scale companies passing on some of the lessons he learned the hard way over 8 start-up years.
He successfully finished his PhD as well as his graduate studies at the Graduate School of Management (WHU), Koblenz, majoring in Business Economics / Business Management. In 2005, Boris was named the Pacific Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year award winner.
How are females changing the entrepreneurial landscape?
As investors who seek opportunities in underserved verticals, we are excited about what diversity in gender can bring: new ideas, perspective and approaches to solving problems in areas that may be overlooked by male founders.
What funds are available for female entrepreneurs to access?
Technically, the same funding that is available to male founders is accessible for female founders. There are some resources that are targeted specifically for female founders, however. For example:
- http://37angels.com/: a community of women investors committed to funding early stage startups.
- http://women2.com/: a media company designed for the next generation of female tech leaders. They hold pitch events at their conferences with provide great PR and exposure to VCs.
- http://www.girlsraising.com/: a community with online and offline resources to assist female founders in starting, building, funding and growing their businesses.
What valuable advice can you offer to women who are seeking funding?
Advice is not gender specific, but in some cases women may have to overcome stereotypes as they seek funding.
- Understand the technology stack of your product well. You don’t necessarily have to code, however, you must be able to communicate not only what your product does, but how it does it.
- Find the right balance of confidence and humility. We so oftentimes see founders (both male and female) come in over-confident, which ultimately only hurts their pitch in the end.
Tell us about some of the projects that you are investing in.
We generally invest in passionate entrepreneurs that want to solve big problems. Of the 20 companies in our portfolio, 5 have female founders:
- Julep – a cosmetic brand and e-commerce platform for beauty products
- Mattermark – a data platform for venture capitalists to quantify signals of growing and potentially lucrative startups
- Tindie – a marketplace for makers to fund and sell their hardware creations
- Two companies have yet to be announced
What is the future of venture capital and female entrepreneurs?
Women have been underrepresented in both tech and management. As a result, the types of startups led by female founders have been limited to selling to a primarily female audience. We are now seeing, however, women build companies across all verticals. This is portrayed even by our own list of female-founded companies above.