Let’s retire the Old Boys Club. In this article, we hope to celebrate and elevate women on the rise. The ones making waves. The ones getting the important work done.
And while there’s many others upending the industry, here’s 5 worth your attention:
1. Maneesha Ghiya
And we don’t mean that as a turn of phrase — she was 1 of 20 women named to Fierce Pharma's list of the 2021 Fiercest Women in Life Sciences. For good reason too. She’s spent over 20 years investing in healthcare as a VC and hedge fund investor.
Today, Maneesha is the founder and managing partner of FemHealth Ventures — a firm dedicated to investing in women's health-related businesses. They led a $5 million Series A round early last year for BioAesthetics, a med-tech company developing a nipple-areolar complex graft to improve breast reconstruction surgery.
Maneesha previously worked at:
- JPMorgan Partners,
- Kingdon Capital, and
- Highline Capital in healthcare-focused investment roles.
She is also a co-founder and strategic advisor for ExSight Ventures — another healthcare VC firm — focused on innovative ophthalmic drugs, devices, and diagnostics. Her VC firm has completed approximately $1 billion worth of investments in:
- medical devices,
- diagnostics, and
- digital health companies in both public and private healthcare markets.
She’s not active on social media but you can keep up to date with FemHealth Ventures on Twitter.
2. Arian Simone
(Sorry – we don’t mean to get too clever with these openings but we’re serious.)
Arian is the co-founder and general partner of Fearless Fund, a $25 million VC fund that invests in women of color-led businesses at the:
- seed, and
- Series A investment stages.
Besides an investor she’s also an:
- marketing expert
- serial entrepreneur
Fearless Fund is backed by institutions such as PayPal, Bank of America, and Costco. They currently invest in:
- consumer packaged goods
- food and beverage
Also beauty firms such as AMP Beauty LA, Hairbrella, and Range Beauty. She also launched Fearless Magazine and platform in 2010 with the goal of motivating women entrepreneurs.
She has written three books with an average of 4.6 stars on Amazon:
- Fearless Faith + Hustle: 21 Day Devotional Journey link
- My Fabulous & Fearless Journey link
- The Fearless Money Mindset: Broke Doesn't Scare Me link
In 2004, she founded a PR and marketing firm focused on the entertainment business, with billion-dollar clients such as Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, and Disney Pictures. Keep up with Arian on Twitter.
3. Christina Jenkins, MD
She’s currently a Venture Partner at Phoenix Venture Partners Seed Fund where she co-leads a seed-stage investment strategy focusing on technology that will change how we diagnose, monitor, and treat health disorders.
But that’s not all.
Dr. Jenkins previously served as CEO of OneCity Health Services, a division of NYC Health + Hospitals. There she built a program for 1 million New Yorkers in a value-based payment system, growing the organization to $350 million in revenue. Through her firm — Lucania Partners — she serves as a strategic advisor to board members and senior executives of:
- health systems, and
- healthcare nonprofits
with a focus on coaching clients to achieve their business goals in complex environments. She also serves as a Lead Venture Investor for Portfolia Inc.'s FemTEch fund. They invest in early-stage digital health and device startups — game-changers for women's health, wellbeing, and their position as primary health decision-makers and caregivers.
Keep up with Dr. Jenkins on LinkedIn.
4. Jess Lee
Jess was once an avid complainer with an impressive background. She had the typical Stanford then Google boxes checked on her resume. Impressive? Absolutely. But her story is a bit more unique than that.
As an avid user of Polyvore — a shopping app and site to give and get styling ideas — she was frustrated with some of their features. So she wrote in to offer some “suggestions” for their product. Those heavy-handed complaints served as proof she would be a great product manager. Surprisingly, Polyvore hired her. From there, her career took off.
Within 4 years of joining Polyvore she was named CEO. A few years later, Polyvore was acquired by Yahoo for somewhere around $200M. Fast forward a few years to when Jess became Sequoia Capital's first female and youngest investing partner.
Since joining Sequoia Jess has led investments in companies like:
- Maven Clinic
Lee, along with other female VCs, hosts Female Founder Office Hours to help up-and-coming female-led businesses.
5. Martina Welkhoff
Martina answers one simple question in her work: how do you advance women and minorities while tackling large problems like VC and spatial computing? Wildly complicated stuff. But Martina has made giant strides in the industry.
Martina is a:
- serial entrepreneur
- early-stage investor
- Founding Partner of the WXR Fund, a venture fund focused on women-led spatial computing companies.
In 2016, she launched ConveneVR — a virtual reality firm focused on the establishment of a new computing platform for women and minorities.
She also launched Zealyst in 2010, a corporate gaming platform that helps employees build their professional network while also collecting data for their business on:
The WXR Fund is one of the first funds to invest exclusively in women-led businesses developing solutions for the next wave of computing. This includes startups in the virtual reality space that are committed to gender equality while providing support to female leaders in immersive technology.
Martina’s work goes beyond her venture funds. She’s also:
- on the advisory board of the University of Washington's Center for Leadership and Strategic Thinking
- President of Seattle Women in Tech for over five years
- a World Economic Forum Global Shaper
- a member of the Young Entrepreneurs Council
- the recipient of the Advanced Imaging Society's Lumiere Award for Distinguished Leadership in 2018
You can keep up with Martina on LinkedIn.
The data is clear: there’s far too few women in VC — 65% of US-based VC firms lack a female partner. We’re determined to play our role in changing that.
Women have a bright future in the private markets. But it’d be foolish to say they’re not making waves in the present.
We can’t wait to watch what they do next.
If you enjoyed this roundup of female VCs, you’ll love our podcast episode with Gale Wilkinson.