Two years ago, Partech began a study on its founders — the end goal being to create a rounded snapshot of the people behind our portfolio companies and to look at how it has evolved over time.
Most notably, with 186 companies at different stages in 29 different countries as of January 1st 2021, this study gives a detailed overview of the diversity of our founders in terms of gender, geography, and professional experience. In 2020 only, we invested in 82 startups across 24 countries, of which 31 are new companies to join the Partech family.
March 8, or International Women’s Day, is celebrated in many countries around the world as a day when women are recognized for their achievements. That’s why we chose this day to publish highlights of this study and take stock of the progress of women founders in our portfolio.
Besides, as the United Nations explain: this year’s theme for the International Day is: “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”, another reason to celebrate the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
1) More female cofounders in the new generations
Because we invest in tech companies at all stages, from pre-seed to large growth, we can observe various generations of companies in time all at once.
The seed stage is an insightful proxy for what is happening with new generations of companies and founding teams. In the last two years only (2019–2020), 30.9% of the seed startups we have invested in were cofounded by women.
Across all our seed portfolio, we observe a +43.2% share increase of companies cofounded by women since 2018, to reach 21.2% of our 132 seed portfolio companies.
Looking now at the whole portfolio (from seed to growth stages), 18.3% of our 186 portfolio companies as of January 1st, 2021 had been co-founded by women: a +27.1% share increase compared to what our total portfolio looked like in 2018. In 2020 only, 22.6% of all the new companies we invested in male and female cofounders.
2) Asian companies are paving the way for more diversity
Looking at geographies, our portfolio as of January 1st, 2021, is spread across 29 different countries on four continents.
Not only is Asia a growing tech ecosystem for Partech, but the continent also shows the highest ratio of female founders in our portfolio, with 36.8% of our 19 Asian companies co-founded by female entrepreneurs.
3) Media & Entertainment, Supply Chain & Logistics, and Food & Beverage have the highest share of women founders
Breaking down our portfolio in large industry categories, we looked at the share of companies cofounded by women in each category:
4) 80% of women CEOs in our portfolio are first-time entrepreneurs
We have the privilege to meet both repeat entrepreneurs who decided to address a new challenge they identified, and first-time founders who launched themselves into business either as a first professional experience, or to take up a new professional challenge.
In 2020, our CEOs had worked for 12.6 years on average before introducing their companies to Partech. This average represents an increase of 1.4 years of professional experience compared to the 2019 cohort.
Looking at women CEOs, 8.6% of all our portfolio companies as of January 1st 2021 have a female CEO (+10% share increase since 2018). In 2020 only, 9.7% of the new companies we invested in had a female CEO.
However, as we previously highlighted, more operational experience does not necessarily mean more entrepreneurial experience. If the majority (55.2%) of all CEOs in our portfolio are repeat entrepreneurs, the share of first-time entrepreneurs we backed has increased by + 2.4% compared to 2019.
This might be partly explained by the fact that 80% of women CEOs in our portfolio are first-time entrepreneurs, with 9 years of professional experience on average. One can expect that after this first experience, they should start other companies in the future and thus become repeat entrepreneurs, bringing experience and stewardship for next generations.
Supporting tech champions and their unusual journeys
Launching oneself into the entrepreneurial adventure often leads to taking a different route. And some of our founders seem to draw their strength and inspiration from their exceptional situations!
Helen Chen is a young entrepreneur, named in the Forbes 30 under 30. After a stint in private equity at Blackstone and in wealth management at the Bechtel family office, Helen co-launched Nomad Homes, a residential real estate marketplace focused on the Middle East and Europe.
Stéphanie Delestre co-founded QAPA with Olivier Zier in 2011, to facilitate access to employment for all. Stephanie has 20 years of digital experience and was previously the COO at Qype (acquired by Yelp) and internet director at Eurosport. She is a graduate of ESCP Europe and Paris-Sorbonne University.
Michelle Kennedy is the CEO and Founder of Peanut. She launched Peanut in 2017 to solve a need she had experienced as a new mother: isolation. When Michelle had her first child, she struggled to meet like-minded women and found herself trawling out-dated blogs for advice in the early hours. Peanut provides a community for women when they need it most.. . Having worked in the dating app industry for five years, Michelle has unprecedented experience and understanding of the safety and growth elements of building a social product.
Dr. Carolyn Lam founded US2.ai, along with her husband, James Hare with the mission of automating the fight against heart disease. Carolyn is one of the world’s leading cardiologists; a Principal Lead of Clinical Trials and Trial Networks at the National Heart Centre of Singapore, and the Director of the Women’s Heart Clinic at the National Heart Centre Singapore. She is also Professor of Cardiology at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School. Carolyn has been recognized worldwide for her outstanding work regarding heart failure, in particular her work with preserved ejection fraction. In 2012, Carolyn was awarded the L’Oreal Women In Science Award, and is a current recipient of the NMRC Senior Investigator Clinician Scientist Award.
Bindiya Vakil, CEO and founder of Resilinc, is a recognized thought leader in the area of supply chain risk management from companies like Cisco and Flextronics. She is credited with bringing SCRM solutions into the mainstream since founding Resilinc in 2010. She holds the patent for evaluating supply chain vulnerability and risk of an enterprise. She is also the founder of the Global Supply Chain Resiliency Council, a non-profit dedicated to advancing the discipline of supply chain risk management. In September 2020, she was named Woman of the Year by Supply & Demand Chain Executive.
We admire founders who are continually learning and who are ready to explore new frontiers. They reward us with new perspectives. And we are always here to give them a helping hand: sometimes by challenging them, but always by supporting them.
Hats off to women founders today!
ARTICLE PUBLISHED INITIALLY ON PARTECH WEBSITE ON MARCH 8, 2021.
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