The Neythri Futures Fund courts South Asian women investors

Within the first half of 2021, enterprise funding hit a record high of $288 billion, far outstripping world funding throughout the identical interval final yr. However this windfall hasn’t offset the inequities endemic to the enterprise capital business: Over the primary eight months of 2021, the share of funding {dollars} raised by firms with solely feminine founders was simply 2.2%, the bottom such determine in years, according to a Crunchbase analysis.

A driving drive behind this imbalance is the restricted pool of women in enterprise capital who’re empowered to jot down checks. As of 2020, advocacy group All Raise found that simply over 13% of verify writers in VC are women.

A brand new fund desires to chip away at this disparity, by centering South Asian women as each investors and founders. The Neythri Futures Fund has raised $10 million for its debut fund from 249 restricted companions (LPs), the vast majority of whom are South Asian women and first-time investors. Among the many fund’s LPs are senior women at firms like Peloton and Google, together with notable South Asian male leaders, similar to Navin Chaddha of Mayfield Fund and VMware CEO Raghu Raghuram.

The fund grew out of founding managing accomplice Mythili Sankaran’s personal irritating expertise attempting to lift funding as an entrepreneur within the mid-aughts, which impressed her to strive her hand at angel investing. As she joined women-led investing networks, Sankaran discovered that she hardly ever encountered women of coloration, not to mention South Asian women. “It hit me, the extra I bought concerned, how homogenous these networks have been,” she says. “In my private networks, which have been predominantly South Asian, I knew loads of unbelievable women.”

Sankaran began holding casual gatherings at her residence with women she knew, the place she shared investing insights over a cup of chai. “Abruptly I had 50 individuals in my yard,” she says. “I shortly realized it was necessary to construct a neighborhood.” In March 2020, she cofounded Neythri.org, knowledgeable community for South Asian women, which has since grown to embody greater than 2,000 women throughout 14 nations.

The group was a pure launching pad for what would ultimately grow to be the Neythri Futures Fund, as Sankaran shortly realized many members have been excited by investing however had no thought the place to begin. “These have been senior people, too—individuals who have been common managers and VPs and execs—who had by no means achieved this,” she says. “It appeared like there completely was a must faucet into this neighborhood. I wished to create one thing that was very inclusive and accessible for a broad group of women.” (Sankaran oversees fundraising and operations however makes funding choices in tandem with accomplice Roli Saxena, a president at NextRoll.)

The fund has already invested in 9 B2B firms—of which 5 are helmed by feminine founders—and Sankaran plans to proceed backing startups with numerous management (together with at the very least one lady on both the chief staff or board). Whereas different funds of this dimension usually goal early-stage startups, Sankaran is open to financing extra mature firms, partially, as a result of so a lot of Neythri’s LPs are new to investing. “We would like them to see earlier returns than [waiting] seven to 10 years,” she says. “I would like them to imagine that this is usually a path to wealth creation.”