Quick question: How many famous female venture capitalists can you name?
If the answer is none, there’s a depressing reason why: Women make up as little as 4 percent of deal-making venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, according to Techcrunch, and 25 percent of angel investors overall. And that matters because venture capitalists have become the principal backers of startups in the 21st century.
Now a group of Miami women are trying to make the future of venture capital more female.
Aminta Ventures seeks to plug more women into South Florida’s ample wealth, says Alia Mahmoud, the sales and business development executive at facial recognition software company Kairos and spokeswoman of Aminta.
“There’s a lot of wealth in South Florida… but the institutional and angel investment worlds are very dominated by men. They’re hard for women to break into,” Mahmoud says.
Aminta co-founder Natalia Martinez-Kalinina, general manager of CIC Miami, says that there are women at the top of lots of important South Florida businesses and organizations, like Boatsetter, Panther Coffee and Code Fever — but something has been missing.
“Currently, we don’t necessarily see much parity reflected in the makeup of our local investor network,” Martinez-Kalinina says. “So our intention is to… shepherd more women to throw their hat in the ring and join the existing momentum.”
More women in angel investing means more successful women founders, Mahmoud says. She points to a report from women’s business advocacy group Catalyst that found that businesses with higher numbers of female employees outperform those with less: 42 percent show a greater return on sales, 53 percent have a better return on equity, and 66 percent boast a greater return on invested capital.
And many times, Mahmoud points out, women pitch a product tackling a niche women’s need or market that men simply will have a weaker grasp on.
“When you’re pitching an organic tampon delivery to a panel of men in suits, they might not necessarily grasp the concept — they’re going to be less sensitive to understanding the opportunity,” she says.
The group is holding its first workshop at the end of the month in partnership with Startup Angels and CIC Miami with the support of Northern Trust, MBAF and Cito Ventures. The goal is to introduce more women to the world of angel investing and give them the tools, networks and information they need to get involved as investors in South Florida.
“Maybe they are already sitting on the board of a company or non-profit, maybe they are active philanthropists or mentors and looking for a new way to leverage their capital, time and talents,” Mahmoud says. “We want to bring them into the fold of startup investing.”
It is still early for the group. But “possibly in the future,” Mahmoud says, Aminta will turn into its own VC group and start funding companies directly.
Aminta means defender or protector in ancient Greek, a name Mahmoud said is suited to Aminta’s mission.
“We liked the idea that it was kind of defending women’s right to be part of this world,” Mahmoud says.
The other founders of the group are:
- Deborah Johnson: Program Manager, Fusion Pointe
- Mary Anderson: Investor, Advisor and Board Member
- Carolina Canida: Co-Founder of Cito Ventures
- Rosario Chozas: Co-Founder of BAMMIES
- Julia Ford-Carther: Co-Founder and CEO BAMMIES
- Nelly M. Farra: Business Development, eMerge Americas