Oct 27, 2023 - News

Women in Tampa seize the venture capital world

 Women watch Allison Baum Gates speak onstage

Investor Allison Baum Gates is interviewed by Florida Funders' Chelsea Oppenheim yesterday at Embarc Collective's Glaring Gap summit. Photo: Selene San Felice/Axios

Venture capital has always been a boys' club. But women are joining forces in Tampa to try to defy the odds.

State of Play: Embarc Collective's Glaring Gap summit began Thursday, with 50 women learning how to become startup investors.

  • The downtown Tampa-based nonprofit focuses on supporting tech startups with coaching and programming. This is its fourth summit and the second co-hosted with ReliaQuest. The program has trained 200 women from 34 Florida cities.
  • It includes investor education training, a startup pitch forum and a due diligence memo review.

Why it matters: 93% of venture dollars are controlled by white men. Groups of mostly white men like the so-called PayPal mafia have controlled an industry that's driven by networking.

  • Florida has just 30 active women investors, according to Embarc, which hopes to add to that.
  • 41 women, determined by income and net worth to be accredited investors, have participated in the program since it started in 2020. They've gone on to make a combined $6.1 million in early stage/angel investments, Embarc says.

How it works: The program serves college students looking at venture capital careers, emerging professionals who might not have money to invest in a company but could participate in equity crowdfunding and accredited investors with check-writing power.

  • Summit speakers include investors Allison Baum Gates, Angela Lee and Haley Bryant as well as Julia Boorstin, author of "When Women Lead."
  • Through a connection made with a fellow participant in 2020, Meeka Etienne Crabb became an investment professional at Permira, a British global investment firm with a total committed capital of more than €77 billion.

What they're saying: "We're teaching women how to invest in the innovation they want to see in the world," Embarc's VP of platform Allie Felix told Axios.

  • "We have to lean out of that (male-dominated) system and create our own, one that is designed for outsiders and people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives," Gates told the group on Thursday. "But in order for that system to be as successful as the existing one, it needs money."

Editor's note: The story has been corrected to reflect 41 investors were accredited by virtue of their net worth and income (not by going through Embarc's program).


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Tampa Bay.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Tampa Bay stories

No stories could be found

Tampa Baypostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Tampa Bay.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more