Originally a Facebook support group for the founders, the Female Founders Alliance community has evolved and changed a lot since its inception. Today he is announcing a name change and the fact that he has started issuing checks from his inaugural fund. With $ 9 million to play, the all-new Graham & Walker is focusing its attention on “the potential of all business women,” including through community building, investments and various programs.
The fund also has its work cut out for it, even in an extraordinarily sparkling market. As VC Claire Diaz-Ortiz points out in a column last month, only 9% of all funds deployed to tech startups went to founding teams that included at least one woman. Solo founders and all-female teams only raised 2% of all venture capital dollars. As far as we know, Diaz-Ortiz is not involved with Graham & Walker, but echoes his sentiments: it is heartening to see initiatives like Graham & Walker come into the picture with an agenda to change that.
“[Women founders] must be unleashed in challenging local and global issues, ”says Merrie Williamson, corporate vice president for Microsoft Azure Apps, Infrastructure & IOT – and investor in Graham & Walker. “Part of my participation in this fund is a nod to all women and their potential.
The name “Graham & Walker” might trip you up, evoking old-fashioned partnerships of yesteryear. Get rid of your first impressions – the company is not named after its founders or investors, but includes an elegant nod to influential women in history.
“We know that when people first hear Graham & Walker, they imagine he’s named after two men, like a very old-fashioned law firm,” says Leslie Feinzaig, Founder and general manager. “But when you dig deeper and see who we are and what we do, it makes you wonder what inspired your own hypothesis. The ampersand also has a lot of meaning, it represents you and me, it represents our community.
Specifically, the company is named after Katharine Graham – editor of The Washington Post and first female CEO of a Fortune 500 company – and Madame CJ Walker, an African-American woman widely recognized as the world’s first self-made female millionaire. .
“A big reason for this rebranding is our own evolution to see the world as binary (founders and non-founders) and to realize that we are all the same person. These are the women who want to take charge of their careers,” explains Feinzaig. “Graham & Walker is a way for us to become of service to this woman at any point in her life – not just as a founder, but as an investor, advisor, business leader, member of the board of directors, etc. ”
The fund began investing in early 2021. Initial investments include the PairTree adoption facilitation software, the culturally aware telehealth marketplace Health in Her Hue, the eco-friendly living and shopping community Brightly and the Datacy data market.
Investors in the fund include Bank of America, Carta and a large number of private investors. In total, over 100 investors contributed $ 9 million to the fund. Graham & Walker reports that two-thirds of investors are women, one-third are people of color, and almost half of investors are first-time fund investors.