Home » The women writing checks: A list of female venture capitalists in the Pacific Northwest

The women writing checks: A list of female venture capitalists in the Pacific Northwest

by Narges Mohammadi

We found an article published in 2018 that listed women investors based in the Pacific Northwest who were writing checks to help startups grow.

A lot has changed in four years. We’ve put together a new compilation below, highlighting more than 60 women venture capitalists across Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver B.C.

Venture capital dollars reached record levels in 2021. But U.S. companies founded solely by women raised just 2.4% of total capital invested — a percentage that hasn’t grown in recent years, despite many headlines and attention on the giant gender gap in venture capital.

Evidence suggests that the lack of female leaders in venture capital ranks makes firms less likely to invest in female-led startups.

There are signs of progress. Our updated list has grown compared to 2018, and this year we only included women in senior roles, such as founders of firms or managing directors and partners. The 2018 list also included angel investors.

“The landscape looks much, much different today,” said Leslie Feinzaig, founder of Seattle-based women-focused venture firm Graham & Walker.

More than 15% of general partners at VC firms nationwide are women, up from 12% in 2019, according to a Pitch-Book report from November.

“The importance of that increase, as modest as it may look, extends beyond the increase itself,” PitchBook said in its report. “Studies and dozens of anecdotes suggest that female founders tend to seek out female investors and that the chances of a female-founded company successfully securing financing can rise with a female investor in the room.”

Pitch-Book reported that startups founded only by women accounted for 6.9% of U.S. venture capital deal count in 2022 through June, a decade high, even with the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic on women in the workforce. That number was 18.2% for companies with both female and male founders.

However, for total capital raised, female-founded startups have raised just 1.9% of dollars thus far in 2022, slightly lower than last year.

Feinzaig said she sees more women founders raising capital in Seattle, pointing to folks such as Sandi Lin (Skill jar), Kieran Snyder (Textio), Maria Colacurcio (Syndio), Linda Lian (Common Room), and many others.

“There are a lot of interesting technologies coming out of Seattle, with women founders at the top,” she said. “That is really exciting, and I think we’ll see a lot more in the next decade.”

Women founders are the “lynchpin of this entire ecosystem,” Mandela Schumacher-Hodge Dixon, CEO of All Raise, said on Bloomberg earlier this year. Dixon in March became CEO of the nonprofit that aims to boost female founders and funders.

Dixon told Forbes in June that the current economic downturn could cause investors to pull back on diversity-related initiatives. But she said it’s an even bigger opportunity for checkwriters.

“I would really encourage them to check in with themselves and understand this opportunity they have … to continue to boldly move forward and make bets, to give opportunities to people who have not had that opportunity so we don’t lose all the progress that’s been made,” she said.

Here are names of some female investors which are listed below in alphabetical order.

Sarah Applebaum, partner @ Pangaea Ventures

Sarah Applebaum got her start in venture capital at Vancouver, B.C.-based Pangaea Ventures in 2012 as an associate. She spent two years as an investor at RenewableTech Ventures and returned to Pangaea as partner in 2020.

Adriane Brown, managing partner @ Flying Fish Partners

Adriane Brown previously served as president and COO of Intellectual Ventures and president of Honeywell Transportation Systems. She is currently on the boards of American Airlines, KKR, Axon, eBay and the Washington Research Foundation. Brown is an advisor for The Black Boardroom Initiative, a new effort from Perkins Coie that launched this year to increase the number of Black leaders on public boards.

Minda Brusse, founding partner @ First Row Partners

Minda Brusse co-founded First Row Partners in December 2019. She also co-founded The $1k Project in April 2020, a volunteer collective providing cash relief for families impacted by the pandemic. She is a venture partner at 2048 Ventures and held leadership roles at Grubstakes and the Seattle Angel Conference as an angel and fund manager.

Naynika Chaubey, partner @ Evok Innovations

Naynika Chaubey joined Evok Innovations in November after working in energy project finance and private equity. She was previously vice president at Bear Stearns, SoCore Energy, and Wirsol Solar Americas. She also managed portfolios at US Renewables Group and Cascade Investment.

Ana Chaud, executive partner @ Elevate Capital

Ana Chaud joined Elevate Capital in February 2020 and is CEO of Lodestar. She also founded Chaud & CO in 2019 and co-founded Garden Bar in 2013. She was a board member of TiE Oregon, Entrepreneurs Organization, and Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon.

Hope Cochran, managing director @ Madrona Venture Group

Hope Cochran joined Madrona in January 2017 and spent two years as a venture partner before becoming the first female managing director at the firm in 2019. She was previously a CFO at King, maker of Candy Crush, as well as Clearwire and Evant. She serves on the boards of AI2, Hasbro, MongoDB and NewRelic.

Karen Cone, venture partner @ Sybilla Fund

Karen Cone held various senior executive positions before joining Sybilla Masters Fund in September 2018. She was CEO at TowerGroup and a general manager at Microsoft. She is also on advisory boards for Women in Cloud and early stage growth technology firms.

Christiana DelloRusso, partner @ LRV-Health

Christiana DelloRusso was a managing director of the Washington Medical Technology Angel Network, a vice president at Life Science Washington, and a partner at Providence Ventures before joining LRV Health, a venture firm that backs healthcare companies.

Emer Dooley, site lead @ Creative Destruction Lab-Seattle

Emer Dooley was executive director of the Alliance of Angels seed fund for nearly 15 years. She joined Creative Destruction Lab in 2020 to lead the organization’s Seattle accelerator. Dooley also teaches at the University of Washington’s business school.

Edith Dorsen, founder of Women’s VC Fund II

Edith Dorsen, a former investment banker and consultant, helped start Portland, Ore.-based Women’s Venture Capital Fund in 2011 and later launched a second fund to invest in companies with management teams inclusive of women.

Edith Dorsen

Leslie Feinzaig, managing director @ Graham & Walker

Leslie Feinzaig founded Graham & Walker in 2020. The women-focused venture firm originally started as Female Founders Alliance, which Feinzaig launched in February 2017. She also founded Venture Kits in 2016. Feinzaig previously held product management roles at Microsoft, Julep Beauty, and Big Fish.

Eileen Foley, venture partner @ Sybilla Masters Fund

Eileen Foley has more than 25 years of experience in strategy, operations, and management. She also held sales and product development roles before joining Sybilla Masters Fund in November 2018. She previously founded Colcannon LLC, a Irish-inspired artisan food company.

Diane Fraiman, managing director @ Voyager Capital

Diane Fraiman joined Voyager Capital in 2008. Fraiman, based in Portland, Ore., was previously a marketing executive at companies including Sanctum, Informix, and Tektronix. She’s invested in companies such as Elemental Technology, Act-On, Skyward, and others.

Stacey Giard, partner @ Tola Capital

Stacey Giard helped launch Tola Capital in 2010. Giard previously spent eight years at Microsoft in product management and senior marketing roles. She served as board director for Convercent, Gila, Assignar, and is currently on the board for VergeSense.

Terry Gillespie, managing director and founding partner @ Trilogy Equity Partners

Terry Gillespie spent nearly 15 years at Western Wireless Corporation where she held several executive titles such as director, senior vice president, CFO, and others. She was previously controller at McCaw Cellular.

Michelle Goldberg, angel investor and partner @ So-Gal Ventures

Michelle Goldberg spent 20 years as a venture capitalist at Bellevue, Wash.-based Ignition Partners. She’s currently a limited and venture partner at SoGal Ventures, a female-led millennial VC firm based in New York City. Goldberg has backed Lovevery, Universal Standard, and TomboyX. 

Sheila Gulati, managing director @ Tola Capital

Sheila Gulati spent 10 years at Microsoft in various business and marketing leadership roles before co-founding Tola Capital in 2010. Tola invests in enterprise software companies around the world. Past investments include ybris and OSIsoft.


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