Sydney, Oct 10: ALIAVIA Ventures, a Californian venture capital firm with a mission to support female-founded tech startups in Australia and the United States, has successfully concluded its first fund, securing an impressive AU$13.5 million (US$8.7 million).
The funding comes from a cadre of high-profile family offices and investors, including luminaries like Carol Schwartz (Trawalla, EQT, and Climate Council), Tattarang (the Forrest Family Office), Robyn & Victoria Denholm (Wollemi Capital Group), Dom Pym (Euphemia, Founder of Up Bank), and Cynthia Scott (Zip Co).
ALIAVIA, founded in 2021 by Australian Americans Marisa Warren and Kate Vale, was created to address the underrepresentation of female tech founders in the venture capital landscape.
In 2022, out of the $238 billion distributed by venture capitalists, only 17 percent went to mixed-gender teams, and a mere two percent was allocated to startups founded solely by women.
This statistic is striking, especially considering that female-founded companies have demonstrated a remarkable 35 percent higher return on investment compared to all-male-led teams.
Since its inception, ALIAVIA has invested approximately AU$8.4 million in nine female-founded tech startups.
Some of the notable beneficiaries of ALIAVIA’s support include Eugene, an Australian at-home genetic testing startup; HowToo, an online training platform; Othelia, a culture AI startup; and Loupe, a U.S.-based art-streaming startup.
Marisa Warren and Kate Vale, both of whom have held senior positions at tech giants such as Google, YouTube, Spotify, SAP, Microsoft, and Workday, bring firsthand experience of the gender imbalance prevalent in venture capital and the tech industry.
Their goal with ALIAVIA is to address this disparity and close the funding gap for female founders.
ALIAVIA focuses on investing in startups with at least one female founder, building B2B or B2C tech companies in the pre-seed and seed stages.
To bolster their mission, they are joined by Venture Partners Levi Aron (former CEO of Deliveroo Australia, Zip Co., SevenRooms) and Alexis Versandi (formerly of Morgan Stanley and Marshall Wace), along with Head of Platform Sheetal Singh Tobin (formerly of Google and Propel).
Marisa Warren, co-founder and managing partner of ALIAVIA, commented on the venture’s objectives, saying, “The gender imbalance is appalling, and while there is a lot of talk that the inequality is shifting, we’re still a long way from parity.
We want to see more billion-dollar startups funded and led by women. As investors, we have the power to change the world through what we invest in.”
She added, “We are so proud of the founders we’ve been able to back so far. Fund I is just the beginning of our multi-fund, multi-generational firm to drive gender diversity and equity in venture capital.”
Carol Schwartz AO, ALIAVIA’s anchor investor, praised the fund’s significance, stating, “Marisa and Kate are pioneers — they’re the first and only pre-series A VC in Australia to be established by and invest exclusively in women, and they continue to lead the charge to see greater equality in VC funding.”
In addition to their work at ALIAVIA, Marisa is the founder of ELEVACAO, a pre-accelerator program dedicated to nurturing women tech founders.
Since its launch in 2015, ELEVACAO has empowered 175 entrepreneurs, including the founders of HealthMatch and Coviu, who have collectively raised more than $120 million in funding and achieved three successful exits.
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