Starting with a Facebook Founder Support Group, the Female Founders Alliance community has evolved and changed a lot since its inception. Today it announces a name change and the fact that it has started writing checks from its fund. With $ 10 million to play with, it recently minted Graham & Walker focuses its attention on “the potential of all women in business”, including by building society, investment and various programs.
The fund has also suspended its work – even in an extremely frothy market. As VC Claire Diaz-Ortiz points out in a column last month, only 9% of all funds invested for technology start-ups went to founding teams that included at least one woman. Single female founders and all-female teams raised only 2% of all VC dollars. As far as we know, Diaz-Ortiz is not involved in Graham & Walker, but repeats her feelings: it is encouraging to see initiatives like Graham & Walker come into the picture with an agenda to change that.
“[Women founders] must be detached from the tough local and global problems, ”says Merrie Williamson, Corporate VP of Microsoft Azure Apps, Infrastructure & IoT – and an investor in Graham & Walker. “My participation in this fund is in part a nod to all women and their potential.”
The name “Graham & Walker” can trip you up and conjure up old school partnerships from the past. Throw in your first impressions – the company is not named after its founders or investors, but contains an elegant nod to influential women in history.
“We know that when people first hear Graham & Walker, they imagine it is named after two men, like a very old-fashioned law firm,” explains Leslie Feinzaig, founder and CEO. “But when you dig deeper and see who we are and what we do, it makes you question what inspired your own assumption. Ampersand is also very important, it represents you and me, it represents our society.”
Specifically, the company is named after Katharine Graham newspaper publisher for The Washington Post and the first female CEO of a Fortune 500 company – and Mrs. CJ Walker, an African-American woman widely recognized as the world’s first female self-made millionaire.
Graham & Walker Team: Rohre Titcomb (COO) Es Famojure (Program Manager), Leslie Feinzaig (Founder and CEO), Amanda Eldridge (VP of Business Development), Divya Kakkad (VP of Marketing)
“A major reason for this brand is our own development of seeing the world as binary (founder and non-founder) and realizing that we are all the same person. It is women who want to take ownership of their careers, says Feinzaig. “Graham & Walker is a way for us to grow to serve that woman at any time in her career – not just when she’s a founder but as an investor, advisor, business leader, board member and so on.”
The fund began investing in early 2021. Early investments include software to facilitate adoption ParTräd, culturally aware telehealth marketplace Health in her shade, eco-friendly accommodation and shopping Light and data market Datacy.
The fund’s investors include Bank of America, Carta and a lot of private investors. In total, more than 100 investors contributed $ 10 million. Graham & Walker reports that two-thirds of investors are women, one-third are colored people, and nearly half of investors are first-time fund investors.
Updated: TechCrunch previously reported that the fund was $ 9 million. The figure has been corrected to $ 10 million after a Graham & Walker spokesperson made us aware of the mistake.