UK’s top VCs revealed: 11 women to watch in investment

In the realm of investment, the UK is seeing an increasing number of talented, driven and capable individuals, many of whom are women. But how many people actually know who they are and the extent of their success? GrowthBusiness highlights the UK’s top VCs and their claim to fame in a yearly look at women in finance.

In the realm of investment, the UK is seeing an increasing number of talented, driven and capable individuals, many of whom are women. But how many people actually know who they are and the extent of their success? GrowthBusiness highlights the UK’s top VCs and their claim to fame in a yearly look at women in finance.

This list is based on publicly available information on female investors at partner level and above, and is listed in alphabetical order. If you think we’ve missed any superstars in the space, let us know in the comments below.

https://staging.growthbusiness.co.uk/case-diversity-venture-capital-strengthens-2549507/

Gender discrimination in the Valley

In 2015, almost in time for International Women’s Day in March, venture capital and diversity icon, Ellen Pao’s high-profile gender discrimination trial against her former Silicon Valley employers started the conversation on inclusivity and diversity in investment firms.

The trial, lasting 24 days, resulted in a favourable verdict for Kleiner Perkins, but Pao’s lawsuit, and unwillingness to bend to pressure created what the media dubbed “the Pao effect”. While the trial was taking place, a gender discrimination suit was filed against Twitter by Tina Huang, and a suit alleging sexual and racial discrimination was filed against Facebook by Chia Hong.

Taking bro-culture out

A 2008 Harvard Business Review report identified the blatant sexism and career discrimination facing women in technology and investment as “the Athena Effect” where “macho culture” pushes women out of mainstream roles in the sector and makes them feel excluded.

The Athena Effect lists multiple reasons for why a woman might feel excluded including:

  • Masculine workplace communication style
  • Unspoken expectations to work outside of business hours
  • Taking a career break, either for maternity leave or child rearing
  • Masculine group activities
  • Fear of taking indefensible risks, for which they may be judged harshly.

Workplace experts believe macho culture has three subcultures:

  • Lab coat culture: where scientists are expected to work long hours. Working mothers often find this environment particularly hostile because it would require them to compete with others who choose to work longer hours.
  • Hard hat culture: this subculture primarily applies to the engineering field, where women are subjected to “lad banter”, or sexist “humour”.
  • Geek culture: this subculture permeates various levels of hierarchy within tech start-ups and larger corporate environments, led by academically intelligent “brogrammers”, or dominant, confident men with poor interpersonal skills, who tend to avoid women.

In Silicon Valley’s tech-heavy world of finance, similar barriers impact the hiring decisions and workplace culture of investment firms. For decades, it has been a given that tech entrepreneurship and venture capital is male-dominated. Across the Atlantic, the UK’s gender demographic hasn’t been much different, either. 

https://staging.growthbusiness.co.uk/mi-6-chief-gender-diversity-matter-national-urgency-2549476/

The importance of celebrating role models

According to a study of girls between 7 and 21 years of age by Girlguiding UK, most girls model their outlook and ambitions on the celebrities they see on TV, most of whom are reality stars, famous for their lifestyles than careers. It has also revealed that the lack of positive female role models is limiting future aspirations of young women.

It is more realistic to think that a 14-year-old-girl would know ten times as many YouTube personalities than women in finance, or technology.

In the realm of investment, the UK is seeing an increasing number of talented, driven and capable individuals, many of whom are women. But how many people actually know who they are and the extent of their success? GrowthBusiness highlights the UK’s top VCs and their claim to fame in a yearly look at women in finance.

This list is based on publicly available information on female investors at partner level and above, and is listed in alphabetical order. If you think we’ve missed any superstars in the space, let us know in the comments below.

Laurel Bowden

 
Designation:
Partner
Firm: 83North
Claim to fame: Just Eat (IPO in 2014), Notonthehighstreet, Qliktech (IPO on Nasdaq) and Hybris (acquired by SAP)
Bio in brief: Laurel Bowden joined 83North (formerly Greylock IL) in 2008. Bowden is based in London and her areas of interest includes internet, mobile software and FinTech businesses.
Bowden has led investments in numerous growth companies, including billion-dollar exits of Just Eat (IPO in 2014), Qliktech (IPO on Nasdaq) and Hybris (acquired by SAP). She is also currently on the board of Investec, and is a prolific business angel, investing in companies such as Fizzback (acquired by Nice Systems), Wix (publicly listed on the Nasdaq), FreeAgent and Secret Escapes.

Current portfolio: BlueVine, Celonis, Ebury, iZettle, Mirakl, Wandera, Wonga and Workable

Ophelia Brown


Designation:
General Partner
Firm: LocalGlobe
Claim to fame: Citymapper, Graze, Improbable, Lovefilm, Moo, Secret Escapes, Transferwise, Zoopla
Bio in brief: Ophelia Brown became a general partner at LocalGlobe when in launched in 2016. The early-stage London-based VC firm was founded by Saul and Robert Klein. Prior to her role at LocalGlobe, where she has backed and guided entrepreneurs of multiple growth businesses, Brown was an associate at Index Ventures and worked at Goldman Sachs London.
While at Index, Brown backed Credit Benchmark, OneFineStay, Blaze, Call9, Typeform and Marvel Prototyping, to name a few from her past portfolio.
Current portfolio: Big Health, among others.

Eileen Burbidge

 

Designation: Partner
Firm: Passion Capital
Claim to fame: Burbidge is an ambassador for women in technology and investment. She is one of nineteen members of then-Prime Minister David Cameron’s Business Advisory Group, an HM Treasury’s Special Envoy for FinTech, appointed by then-Chancellor George Osborne, and a Tech Ambassador for then-Mayor of London Boris Johnson.
Bio in brief: Eileen Burbidge is a partner at Passion Capital, an early-stage tech venture capital firm based in London. She started her career as a software engineer in Silicon Valley and worked at many of the world’s biggest tech companies, including Apple, Yahoo and Sun Microsystems. In 2004, she decided to work for Skype and moved to London.
In 2007 Burbidge began investing and advising start-ups as an angel. In 2009, working with Stefan Glaenzer and Robert Dighero, she co-founded White Bear Yard, a coworking office for tech start-ups in London. Two years later, the same trio started Passion Capital.
Current porfolio: Burbidge is a board director for Duedil, Digital Shadows, Lulu, wireWAX, Mondo, and many others.

Sonali De Rycker

Sonali De Rycker
Designation:
General partner
Firm: Accel
Claim to fame: Lyst, Spotify, Catawiki, JobToday, Wonga
Bio in brief: Sonali De Rycker co-leads Accel’s London office. She moved to venture capital in 2000 from Goldman Sachs New York, where she was an investment banker. Prior to Accel, De Rycker worked at Atlas Ventures as a partner.
De Rycker’s area of expertise is consumer technology, business software, and financial services.
Current portfolio: Olio, Wallapop, Avito, Calastone, IAC (Match.com, Tinder, Vimeo, etc).

Tracy Doree


Designation:
Founding partner
Firm: Kindred Capital
Claim to fame: Doree founded e-commerce start-up, LLUSTRE, which was sold just ten weeks since its launch. She is also an advisor at Tech Will Save Us, and Code First Girls.
Bio in brief: Tracy Doree is an entrepreneur-turned-investor. She co-founded seed-stage venture firm Kindred Capital (formerly Spring Partners) with Leila Zegna, and has Mark Evans of Balderton as a founder limited partner.
Doree entered venture capital in 2008, working at MMC Ventures in London. Three years later, she left MMC to start her own company, LLUSTRE. 10 weeks after the launch of her e-commerce and content platform business, LLUSTRE was acquired by New York based company, Fab.com. Doree has been working on building Kindred Capital. She is also an angel investor, advising and investing in start-ups in her free time.
Current portfolio: moveyourframe.com, Unmade, Alice Made This.

Avid Larizadeh Duggan


Designation:
General partner
Firm: GV (formerly Google Ventures)
Claim to fame: Duggan has worked in diverse roles within the start-up ecosystem, as a developer, product manager, entrepreneur, investor and advisor. She’s an advisor to Founders4Schools and the Breteau Foundation, serves on the Harvard Business School European Advisory Board, and also leads Code.org and the Hour of Code in the UK.
Bio in brief: Avid Larizadeh Duggan is a general partner at GV (formerly Google Ventures). Prior to GV, she co-founded Boticca, a global marketplace for independent brands of fashion accessories, which was acquired by Wolf & Badger in 2015.
Over the course of her career, which began in 1998, Duggan has been a developer, product manager, founder, investor, and advisor. She entered the venture capital industry in 2006 with Accel Partners in London, with a focus on software and internet businesses. She also held product management roles at Tellme Networks, eBay, and Skype, considering her extensive technical expertise.
While working at eBay, Duggan patented a suite of sales tool on the e-commerce site.
Current portfolio: Lostmy.name, Resolution Games, Yieldify

Anne Glover

 
Designation:
Co-founder & CEO
Firm: Amadeus Capital Partners
Claim to fame: Optos, Tricorder
Anne Glover is a mainstay of the UK venture capital scene. Prior to founding Amadeus Capital Partners, Glover was at Apax Partners.

Her career in venture capital began in strategy consulting with Bain & Co in Boston. In 1993, she joined one of her portfolio companies, Virtuality Group, as COO, after it floated on the London Stock Exchange. In 1995 she returned to investing as a business angel before founding Amadeus in 1997.

Glover is a member of the UK Government’s Council for Science and Technology and the London Business School’s Private Equity Institute Advisory Board. From 2014 to 2015, Glover was the chair of the European Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (EVCA), and the chair of the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (BVCA) from 2004 to 2005. She was also a non-executive director of the UK Technology Strategy Board from 2005 to 2012.
Current portfolio: Doctify, GlySure, mydeco, Nomad Digital

Cassandra Harris


Designation:
Managing director & founder
Firm: Venturespring
Claim to fame: Harris made the Innovate UK Fintech Powerlist in 2016, and the TechCityInsider100 list in 2015.
Bio in brief: Cassandra Harris co-founded venture development firm, Venturespring, which helps incubate and accelerate new digital companies on behalf of Fortune 500 companies. Harris has worked across several high profile bluechip client accounts at WPP, a job she left to focus on her start-up ventures full-time. Her first start-up was a fashion e-commerce proposition which she built for two years before selling her shares. Harris is also an angel investor, having backed Taylor Morris Eyewear, a new fashion label launched by celebrity and friend, Hugo Taylor.
Harris has co-founded two more businesses including a tech education social enterprise called Free:formers and early stage venture fund alongside business partner Gi Fernando and the UK operation of a global digital agency called Aumcore. Both businesses are running strong and now form part of the Venturespring ecosystem.
Current portfolio: Say, Petbu, Wileyfox

 

Reshma Sohoni


Designation:
CEO, partner & co-founder
Firm: Seedcamp
Claim to fame: Grabcad and TransferWise
Bio in brief: Reshma Sohoni set up early-stage investment firm, Seedcamp in 2007. Sohoni started her venture career at 3i after working at Vodafone in the marketing and strategy department.
Seedcamp is Europe’s first large-scale pre-seed and growth stage accelerator programme, and has backed almost 200 companies with one unicorn and 91 per cent having raised further funding to a tune of $350 million.
Current portfolio: Winnow, Property Partner, ByeBuy

Sitar Teli


Designation:
Managing partner
Firm: Connect Ventures
Claim to fame: SoundCloud, CityMapper
Bio in brief: Sitar Teli is a managing partner at Connect Ventures, an early-stage tech VC firm in London. Teli has been in London’s venture capital scene for years, focusing on early-stage investments in both consumer and B2B tech companies. Before joining Connect Ventures, she worked for Doughty Hanson Technology Ventures, where she led their Series A round in SoundCloud.
Current portfolio: Pact, Boiler Room, Snap.hr, Timecounts, Auxy

Leila Zegna


Designation:
Founding partner
Firm: Kindred Capital
Claim to fame: Zegna is also a prolific angel investor, having backed dozens of fast-growth start-ups
Bio in brief: Leila Zegna, like her partner Tracy Doree, is an entrepreneur-turned-VC. She began her career at Bain & Co in New York and left in 2007 to pursue an MBA at Harvard Business School. After that, she moved straight to Silicon Valley, where she joined Plum District, a Kleiner Perkins and General Catalyst-backed daily deals company, as general manager.
After her stint at Plum District, Zegna joined the founding team of GenapSys, a genomics start-up. that successfully raised $50 million in venture capital. Since 2011, Zegna has also been an angel investor and has invested in numerous start-ups in the US and UK, including Matterport, Thread, Knyttan, Pamono, Lystable, Memrise, ASAP54, Enki, Say Media, Grovo, WorkLife, Bloom & Wild, Tech Will Save Us, ID.me, Virtusize and BloomThat.
Current portfolio: StreetTeam

This feature is part of the GrowthBusiness Women in Finance series. Nominate a successful woman or advocate for gender parity you know for the Women in Finance Awards, held in partnership with HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter, 30% Club, SavvyWoman, Wealth Management Association, Angel Academe, Voice at the Table, and Women in the City.

Nominate for the Women in Finance Awards 2017.

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.

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