Colorado's women-founded startups make huge strides
In a record year for venture capital in Colorado, firms founded by women saw sizable gains, too.
Why it matters: The VC world remains a boys' club — and despite talk of more equity, progress for funding women-founded companies has plateaued nationwide in recent years, Axios' Lucia Shen writes, citing data from Pitchbook.
Driving the news: Last year marked a "vast improvement" in venture financing for women-led startups, according to a report released this month by Westminster-based Access Venture Partners.
By the numbers: Colorado companies co-founded by women raised more than $1 billion in 2021, up significantly from $146 million the year prior, per the study.
- Three of the top 10 largest deals in the state were made by businesses with female founders, including: Inscripta ($150M, Series E), Guild Education ($150M, Series E) and AgentSync ($74.9M, Series B).
- Women-only led startups raised $91 million in 2021, with biotech companies bringing more money in than any other industry.
Yes, but: Solely women-founded Colorado companies raised just 1.3% of all venture dollars in the state in 2021, while those with male co-founders generated nearly 15% of the total.
What they're saying: "What we've seen in this space … is people invest in people [who] look like them," Elle Bruno, an investor and advisor at Boulder-based startup accelerator Techstars, noted during a panel discussion in early March.
- "But as we see more females joining the VC community, there seems to be a natural progression into more money invested in female companies," she said.
The big picture: Venture capitalists in Colorado raised a record-breaking $6.8 billion in 2021, with some of the best-funded industries being software services, aerospace and health care, according to the Access Venture Partners report.
- The biggest deal, at $1.4 billion, increased by 155% compared to 2020, while the median size swelled by nearly two-thirds year over year.
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