What kind of companies does The Helm invest in?
We invest in female-founded companies using technology to create novel, enduring solutions to difficult problems. To qualify for investment, a company must have a female CEO.
All of the companies we invest in are high-growth technology startups, and we typically invest at the seed stage. We invest across industries and geographies in the U.S., with our primary markets in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle.
Read more about our fund investment philosophy.
Why do you only invest in female founders?
Venture capital is the most valuable resource available for entrepreneurs looking to achieve world-changing scale — but today, too few women have access to this funding. As we say frequently, we need diverse voices creating the technologies and innovations that shape the world we live in.
From an investment perspective, we see that the structural undervaluing of female founded startups presents a unique opportunity to drive returns. We like to let the statistics speak for themselves. In 2016 female founders received only 2.5% of all venture funding in the United States. But at the same time:
- In Firstround Capital’s 10 year survey of their portfolio, they found that companies with a female founder outperformed companies with all male founding teams by 63%.
- Female founded startups have also been shown to generate a 35% higher ROI and 12% higher revenues than their male peers.
- And this outperformance continues in the public markets. Between 2002 – 2014, the 80 women CEOs in the Fortune 1000 produced equity returns 226% better than the S&P 500 overall.
What does it mean that The Helm is a managed fund?
Unlike angel syndicates or other community-driven investment vehicles, all of our investment decisions are made by The Helm team, led by our Managing Partner, Erin Shipley. This allows us to provide a transparent and expedient diligence process for the founders we consider investing in, and to structure a diversified portfolio for our members. Read more about The Helm’s team.
Our members are incredible allies and advocates for our portfolio, but they are not involved in the investment decision-making.
As a member, how much of my annual fund commitment gets invested into companies?
Your full fund contribution gets invested directly into companies. We don’t charge a management fee on our fund capital, instead all members pay a flat membership fee.
What size checks do you write for your investments?
We target a $200,000-$250,000 minimum average first check across our investments. This allows us to contribute a meaningful amount to the seed rounds we invest in and, in some cases, act as lead investor.
How long is the investment term for each fund?
Our funds are annual with each investment term running 12 months.
Why should I invest with The Helm?
Our mission is to make venture investing truly equitable. The Helm was created to address a dual mandate: increase the amount of venture capital available to early stage female founders by activating a global network of wealth holders committed to investing in female-led innovation.
Our ultimate goal is to move the needle towards a future where we no longer have to differentiate female founders or female investors, because capital is available for the best entrepreneurs regardless of their gender.
Do you have to be a member of The Helm to invest in the fund?
Yes. One of the things that makes The Helm unique is how our Membership community and our Fund work together to truly reimagine the experience of investment for our members, as well as our investment portfolio. Because of this, we require that individuals who are accredited investors interested in investing in our fund be members of The Helm’s community.
You can read more about the Membership experience here.
I’m a female founder looking for funding. What’s the best way to get in touch with you?
As with most venture funds, the easiest way to get in touch with us is through a warm introduction from a mutual connection. We have an active presence in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco, and are constantly expanding our footprint in cities across the country to make sure we are accessible to non-traditional networks. That said, if a warm introduction simply isn’t an option, you can reach out through our contact page.
What if my company doesn’t meet your investment criteria?
We have had direct experience raising capital, so we understand what a time consuming, stressful, and often frustrating process raising money can be. Because of this, we do our best to be respectful of your time as a founder, which means we’ll be honest with you if your company doesn’t make sense for us as an investment. That said, we hope our platform can serve as a resource for the founder community outside of our direct portfolio, which is why we launching content and resources for entrepreneurs.