Business

5 Women Spearheading the VC SaaS Revolution

Meet the Women Fighting for Equal Opportunities in VC Funding

11.05.2018 | by Kezia Parkins
Photo by FemaleFounders.vc
Photo by FemaleFounders.vc

Global Shakers is taking a look at five of the women behind Female Founders, a London-based group of investors that provides support to female entrepreneurs and their visions to build great companies. The group was inspired by its counterpart in the US.

According to Fortune, female founders only receive about 2% of all venture capital funds. The #MeToo movement may have unearthed the sexual harassment women in business are subjected to, but it hasn’t resulted in female founders being given the same resources as their male counterparts. Groups like Female Founders aim to right this wrong, and ensure that venture capitalism is a profession where women can and should be as likely to succeed as men.

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Eileen Burbidge is thought of by many as the queen of venture capitalists in the UK since moving to London in 2004. Since crossing the Atlantic, the Canadian businesswoman has found success in many ventures and been rewarded for her ability to spot a shrewd business opportunity. Since originally moving over to become one of the first employees at Skype, she has become a trusted adviser to many. She became a member of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group in 2015, and was given the position of FinTech Envoy for the HM Treasury in the same year. She has even been bestowed with an MBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for her work.
Burbidge’s main focus nowadays is on her early stage venture capitalist firm, Passion Capital. The group already has a number of impressive names in its portfolio, like challenger bank Monzo and online payments system, GoCardless. The fund has a focus on backing SaaS operations including Limejump, an energy management platform, Pusher, a platform which allows real-time messaging in web applications and services, as well as Ravelin, a SaaS fraud management for the payments industry.

Eileen Burbidge at Passion Capital Source: The Times

Hannah Seal is another venture capitalist who has a penchant for being drawn to early-stage investments. The University of Cambridge economics graduate tends to focus on SaaS projects, e-commerce, marketplaces and healthcare.  She is a partner at Index Ventures, a firm with offices in London and San Francisco California that has already backed some major players in the fintech market, in addition to the SaaS market. This includes Revolut, the first digital banking platform to break even (and a unicorn start-up), and iZettle, a social payments company. Aside from its focus on financial services, the fund also backed Dropbox, Facebook, Slack, Skype and Citymapper at their early stages. Before moving into venture capitalism, Seal held various positions at eBay and Ocado.

Hannah Seal
Source: Index Ventures

Carolina Brochado was promoted to the position of partner at Atomico at the start of 2017. Atomico is the venture capital fund started by Skype and Kazaa founder Niklas Zennström. The firm is headquartered in London, where Brochado is based, with more offices in Beijing, Istanbul, São Paulo, and Tokyo. Within Atomico, her investment practice focuses on fintech, food, healthcare and marketplace businesses. Some of the companies within Atomico’s portfolio that Brochado works with are Fat Lama, where you can rent any of your belongings for some extra income or borrow from other users to save money; and LendInvest, a property lending and investment platform. She also sits on the board of  Gympass, Streetbees, Hinge Health and OnTruck.

Before moving into venture capitalism, she worked in investment banking at Merrill Lynch and private equity at Madison Dearborn Partners. Brochado holds dual citizenship in Brazil and the US and speaks fluent English, Portuguese and Spanish as well as being skilled at French. She is a graduate of Georgetown University and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.

Carolina Brochado
Source: Atomico

Tiffany Young graduated from the University of Durham with a first class Honours degree in Economics in 2014. After completing her studies she worked as part of the founding investment team at AllBright. It is a support network for female founders that provides funding and educational resources. Young also founded Breakfast with Tiffany, a blog highlighting and profiling inspirational female entrepreneurs and investors. Most recently she joined Pentech as an investment associate. Pentech is a venture fund that focuses on backing software companies that have the potential to grow rapidly on a global scale. Pentech’s portfolio includes Nutmeg, Europe’s leading independent wealth management platform, and TravelNest, an advertising optimisation platform for holiday rental owners. Young is also a member of Founders of the Future, which grew out of the Founders Forum. The association is an invitation-only community of the burgeoning entrepreneurial talent within the technology market in Europe.

Tiffany Young
Source: Pentech

Luciana Lixandru was promoted from principal investor to partner at Accel in January 2017. She is only the third female partner at the 30-year-old venture capital firm. She is also the joint youngest partner at the firm. At the age of 16, Lixandru decided she wanted to leave her home country of Romania to study in the US. She received a scholarship from the University of Georgetown and completed a degree in mathematics and economics. After graduating, she moved to London and spent two years working as an analyst at Morgan Stanley before moving on to the position of associate at Summit Partners. Lixandru was then approached by Accel in 2011 and has been with the firm ever since. She has also been at the centre of some of the fund’s most noteworthy investments, including Deliveroo, Wallapop and the online auction house Catawiki. 

Luciana Lixandru
Source: Tech Crunch

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"What I really like about Accel is that the team is already diverse, if you look at our team members in London, we cover 10 countries, and 40 percent of the investment team are women. I think we’re already a very diverse bunch. Accel is one of these places where you are appreciated regardless of your background or gender." Luciana Lixandru, Accel

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