Tuesday, May 17, 2022

New Zealand’s Icehouse Ventures raises $20 million to support female founders

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Auckland-based VC Icehouse Ventures has raised its first NZ$5 million for a $20 million goal to invest in female-led startups.

The new ArcAngels Fund II is Aotearoa’s largest fund investing exclusively in women-founded and led companies.

Theresa Gattung, chair of Global Women and the Kiwi lead for women entrepreneurial initiative SheEO, is a cornerstone investor in ArcAngels Fund II, with key contributions from Vend co-founder Mel Rowsell and Sir Stephen Tindall’s K1W1 investment firm.

The new fund follows the inaugural ArcAngels fund, which raised NZ$2.8 million less than two years ago – 40% more than its original goal of $2 million.

It has supported 31 New Zealand ventures, including accounting startup HNRY (Claire Fuller), cryptocurrency exchange platform Easy Crypto (Janine Grainger), online marketplace ArchiPro (Brittany Gribben) and Astrix Astronautics (Fia Jones).

New Zealand certainly stands above its weight when it comes to investing in female founders. The global average is around 2-3%, but ArcAngels manager Lauren Fong said the local figure is around 19%.

There is still room for improvement, and Fong said Fund II will invest in up to 50 female-founded startups over the next four years, with the first investment being made last month and two more underway.

“A community-led approach is key to encouraging more female entrepreneurs into the ecosystem, and our second ArcAngels fund will play a more active role in growing this community,” she said.

“Women are building a $1 billion business there, and there’s no reason these businesses couldn’t get their start in Aotearoa/New Zealand.”

Theresa Gattung said she will continue to devote her time, energy and money to supporting female entrepreneurs.

“Early ventures are getting more funding than ever before and yet the amount of money going to women to raise capital in this country is small,” she said.

“This needs to change, and it’s really exciting to support female entrepreneurs and investor groups like ArcAngels, who are growing networks of angel investors to support women-led businesses. I believe New Zealand has the opportunity to stand out and make a difference if we all work together.”

Sarah Balle, founder of online supermarket challenger Supie, was among those supported by the inaugural fund and appreciates the support of the Kiwi ecosystem.

“It’s super inspiring to see amazing women like Theresa Gattung and Mel Rowsell, who have built and run incredible businesses, stand up to help other women like me who are new to entrepreneurship. The encouragement and support we receive from the investment community helps us continue to push those boundaries and open doors to new connections, which is especially important in the early days of launching a new company.”

While the fund focuses on supporting women-led companies, ArcAngels’ investor network has men who represent approximately 40% of the fund’s investors.

Six of the 8 women on the 16-man Icehouse Ventures team: (back, lr) Jo Wickham, Venture Partner; Bex Gidall, analyst; Steph Benseman, director (for) Lauren Fong, director; Laila Grace, operations analyst; and Michaela Egbers, marketing manager.

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