Companies founded only by women receive 3% of venture capital. This firm is trying to change that

Key Points
  • Victress Capital is trying to level the playing field for female entrepreneurs.
  • "The truth is that female founders do have a hard time accessing capital, because there is a massive funding gap," says managing partner Lori Cashman.
  • "The data across the board shows, whether a public company or private company, if you have a gender-balanced team, in the board room or at management level, you will outperform top line and bottom line," managing partner Suzanne Norris says.
Lori Cashman, left, and Suzanne Norris, Victress Capital
Scott Mlyn | CNBC

Lori Cashman and Suzanne Norris say that if a female entrepreneur has a great idea and a vision to realize it, she should be able to access capital.

That's why Cashman and Norris started Victress Capital, an early stage venture firm that provides funding to companies with female founders.

"The truth is that female founders do have a hard time accessing capital, because there is a massive funding gap," Cashman told CNBC's Jim Cramer on Tuesday.

"When we encounter a founder who sees a huge market opportunity and she has a vision and a compelling business plan to execute around that vision, along with some early traction, we feel that that founder has a right to access that capital alongside anyone else," Cashman said on "Mad Money."

Cashman pointed to a recent study from Crunchbase, which found that year to date in 2019, for every $100 invested by venture capital firms, $87 went to companies founded by men only.

Companies founded only by women raised just $3 for every $100 invested, the study found. The final $10 goes to companies with male and female co-founders.

These figures particularly stand out when you consider 40% of companies founded in the U.S. are founded by women, Cashman said.

Not every company needs venture capital, Cashman said, but Victress' goal since its founding in 2016 is to make sure those who need it have it.

Reducing the funding disparity would have significant benefits for not just those founders but the entire business community, Norris said.

"The data across the board shows, whether a public company or private company, if you have a gender-balanced team, in the board room or at management level, you will outperform top line and bottom line," Norris said.

Of the Fortune 500 companies, 33 have female CEOs, Cramer said, lamenting the figure. He added women also still make up "very much the minority of boards."

Part of the reason female founders are at a disadvantage when trying to secure funding, Norris said, is the composition of venture capital firms. Nearly 75% do not have a female partner, she noted.

"So that is difficult," Norris said. "If you think of venture capital, we're making investments in early stage companies. We find those companies through our networks. Our networks are made with people that we either worked with, or went to school with, or we invested in, so those opportunities that come up are often homogeneous."

For Victress Capital to invest in a company, the "first filter" it looks at is whether at least one of its founders is female, Cashman said.

So far, that's been the case for 19 of the 20 firms for which Victress has provided capital.

Cashman and Norris' investments include companies such as Daily Harvest, a subscription service that delivers healthy foods, and Summersalt, a clothing brand focused on swimwear and travel essentials.

Cramer said Victress Capital's mission is a worthy one, pointing to a key metric as evidence: It is making a profit.

"That's the proof of concept," he said.

VIDEO7:2307:23
Victress Capital partners: Businesswomen face a 'massive funding gap'

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