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A leading London-based fund has kick-started a campaign to improve investment equality between male and female founders. Currently, just 4% of more than 4,000 pitch decks and enquiries for investment received by the fund over the last four years have been from companies with female founders and just 13% with female founding members. The London-based VC firm surveyed the female founders from its decks on why they haven’t sought investment previously, more than half said they feared they wouldn’t be taken seriously.

A prominent VC firm has kick-started a campaign to increase the number of applications for investment from female founders, after discovering only 4% of 4,216 pitch decks were from female founders.

Fuel Ventures wants to hear from start-up companies with female founders and founding members in a bid to redress the gender imbalance in the industry. The move comes after fund boss, Mark Pearson, realised investment equality between male and female founders would not be reached ‘until 2040 at the current rate’. To date, just 4% of pitch decks received by the fund since it launched in 2014 have had a female founder, and just 13% include even one female founding member.

The VC fund surveyed the 548 female founders who had sent in their business proposals, on whether they had been previously deterred from seeking investment and if so why, to gain some insight.

More than four fifths (85%) of the female founders answered yes, they had been deterred from seeking investment before and more than half (52%) answered they feared they wouldn’t be taken seriously as the main reason. A fifth (21%) said a lack of knowledge, 19% cited a lack of self-belief and just less than a tenth (8%) answered a lack of time.

At Fuel Ventures, 40% of senior roles are held by women, compared with just 13% in the UK venture capital sector* as a whole. With such representation at a principal level, Fuel is well-placed to launch this initiative and change the landscape of investing for future entrepreneurs. As part of the campaign, and to start addressing the problem, Fuel is hosting a flagship event at its London offices in January for female entrepreneurs and investors.

Mark and other members of the senior team at Fuel Ventures will be on-hand to share their experiences and provide insight into how to successfully secure investment. The event will also offer attendees the chance to pitch early stage ideas to the principals and receive valuable early stage feedback. Attendees will be invited to send their pitch decks for consideration following the event.

Interested founders can sign-up for the event on Fuel’s website: https://www.fuel.ventures/female-founders

Fuel Ventures is a venture capital firm that specialises in providing seed funding to early stage technology companies. It invests in founders who have the ambition to build a global, market leading company, with the passion and ability to execute. Fuel provides entrepreneurs with expertise and insights in business development, marketing and brand-building through its experience of building, scaling and exiting global companies.

At present, Fuel Ventures is investing at the rate of one company a month, setting aside up to £2m per portfolio company.

Mark Pearson, Fuel Ventures founder, said:

“To find out that most female founders fear they won’t be taken seriously is very disheartening, and I can only blame society for that because research shows that portfolio companies with female founders outperform companies with all-male founders by 63%**, and venture-backed, women-led tech firms bring in 12% higher revenue than male-owned tech firms***, why wouldn’t we want to invest in female-led startups?

“My question to female founders is – where are you? With the most recent raise of our third fund we have £20 million ready to invest in early stage startups, the only criteria being that we invest in companies we believe have the potential to return 100x – something that is not gender specific. We are, and always have been, a fund by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, and that’s important to us.

‘By inviting female entrepreneurs to an event at our London offices in late January 2019, I’m hoping we attract the best talent in the industry and start important conversations that move to close the inequality gap. I honestly do think it’ll take 20 years or more the way things are going, taking us to 2040. That’s not soon enough, so whatever barriers might hold women back in this industry, we need to attack them.’

Principal at Fuel Ventures, Jing Xu, has experience from both sides, having previously founded a successful business herself after raising $1m in funding. She added: “It’s really exciting to be able to offer this kind of opportunity to the next generation of female founders. When I started my business, the learning curve was very steep and as a female founder, I didn’t always feel there was that much support available. Being able to give this assistance to early stage founders and founding members is exciting and I look forward to seeing what comes from the event.”