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Privilege Ventures launches $20 million fund investing in female-led startups • londonbusinessblog.com

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Lugano, Swiss-based venture capital fund Privilege Ventures has just launched its fourth fund. The CHF 20 million (just over $20 million) fund is earmarked for early stage female-led start-ups across Europe.

“We don’t just want to support women,” Jacqueline Ruedin Rüsch, founder of Privilège Ventures, said in an interview with londonbusinessblog.com. “The data shows that women at the wheel generate better ROI.”

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 ethics and doing good: global GDP would grow by 6% if the percentage of entrepreneurship for men and women were equal,” said Lucian Wagner, founder of Privilège Ventures in a press statement.

The firm’s claim is supported by Boston Consulting Group research on investment and revenue data over a five-year period. The study also showed that startups founded and co-founded by women received less than half of the average investment in companies led by men, although the women-led startups generated 10% more revenue over time.

“There are very few funds worldwide dedicated to supporting female founders, and despite the rapid growth in the VC industry, the percentage of female or gender-diverse teams is declining,” said Rüsch. “I started my professional life in the banking sector in Switzerland: this was, and partly still is, a very male-driven sector. I got used to being one of the few women in large conference rooms and I didn’t even pay attention to it anymore. But when I became pregnant, the first reaction from my older colleagues was, ‘When are you going to stop working?’ That was quite shocking, I must admit.”

As Alex reported in July, PitchBook data suggests the percentage of venture capital deals involving at least one female founder fell from 19.4% to 18.2%. In Europe, the numbers are even more dire. Privilege suggests that female founders in Europe receive barely 1% of total VC investment.

Privilège Ventures’ LPs are primarily high-net-worth individuals and family offices, the company says, and the fund aims to write 15-20 checks early, with initial investments in the $250,000 range.

“I really enjoy investing in founders at the beginning of their journey. We often meet them before they even set up their business and we follow them, coach them and see how they take their first steps in the entrepreneurial journey. Given our focus in the seed phase, we think it is important to be as close as possible to our companies and that is why we have a preference for our local market, Switzerland and the surrounding European countries,” explains Rüsch. “We are not specialized in a specific sector, but we do have a number of preferences, namely in med\tech, deep tech and in general for the digital economy. We’d like to get involved as soon as possible, even pre-seed, and keep investing in the best companies right up to Serie A.”

The company says it would like to see more companies try to solve “real” problems – solutions that can save lives, protect the planet, and products that are not just “nice to have” but “must-have”.

“Our total portfolio already includes more than 30% companies with a female co-founder. As we aim to invest only in high performing teams, we need to guarantee a strong deal flow and so we will look not only to Switzerland, but also to Europe with a greater focus on certain countries such as Italy, France and Germany, which are closer to us. state”, says Rüsch, who explains why investing specifically in women remains meaningful for the fund. “Some will point to the simple fact that having different points of view in the room leads to more thoughtful decision-making – some will point out that women have gone through a lot of hassle to get where they are. We see firsthand that women are driven to address issues that have been overlooked in technology but could have a major impact on the world We already have startups in our portfolio with female founders or leaders working to use neurotech to improve sleep to improve food, fungicides to improve food and biomarkers to continuously measure proteins and hormones to prevent and monitor health problems, just to name a few.”

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