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First look: PitchBook tracks venture capital and women-founded startups in Tampa-St. Pete

Margie Manning

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

In an environment where tech startups founded or co-founded by women struggle for capital, Global Safety Management is an exception.

The Tampa-based software-as-a-service company has raised more than $7 million in venture capital backing and is about to close on another round of funding, said Julia MacGregor-Peralta, founder and CEO.

Julia MacGregor-Peralta

“No one is giving us an opportunity because we have a woman CEO. They are looking at the fundamentals of the business and saying this is a good opportunity,” said MacGregor-Peralta, who developed technology to create safety data sheets that list each of the dozens or hundreds of chemicals that go into manufactured products. Manufacturers are mandated to include them with their products.

Still, MacGregor-Peralta is well aware that many venture capitalists allow the gender of a founder or CEO to color their judgment, and several studies back up that claim.

Startups with all female founders received $2.9 billion in venture capital investment in 2018, according to new data from PitchBook. Companies with female founders received 2.3 percent of all venture capital dollars invested in 2018, down from 2.7 percent in 2017. This proportion has hovered between 1 percent to 3.3 percent since 2008, PitchBook said.

On Thursday, PitchBook launched the VC Female Founders Dashboard, an interactive dashboard illustrating venture capital investment activity in female-founded companies across the United States. PitchBook said it would update the dashboard monthly to allow users to closely monitor changes in investment activity across states, cities, sectors and stages.

The new data comes out amid a growing debate about focusing on the gender of startup founders, with many women saying they want to be judged only on their abilities, not their sex.

“I agree. I don’t want to be judged as a ‘woman’ entrepreneur,’” said MacGregor-Peralta. “But the numbers show women give more than 10 percent better return on investment than men, and we get only a fraction of the money. We have to work twice as hard to get half as far, and pretending like that doesn’t exist is ridiculous.”

In the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area, companies with at least one woman founder raised $70.5 million in 28 deals between Jan. 1, 2016 and Feb. 26, 2019, according to the PitchBook data.

The numbers dropped for companies at which a woman was the only founder. Those companies raised $21.85 million in 12 deals.

San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and Boston led nationally in terms of both deal count and capital invested. In Florida, the Tampa metro area lagged Miami metro for deal count and capital invested, but ranked higher than Orlando and Jacksonville.

Florida is No. 8 among the states for venture capital deals for women-founded companies, with 112 total deals in the 38-month period. PitchBook didn’t say what industry sector those deals were in but nationally, software companies with at least one woman founder led in deal count and dollars invested.

“Florida is still struggling,” MacGregor-Peralta said. “Software takes a lot of capital investment upfront, especially Software-as-a-Service. Until Florida investors understand that, we won’t move the needle.”

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    Fritz Eichelberger

    March 1, 2019at2:26 pm

    I’m really curious, does anyone anymore say I won’t buy a product or service because the company is owned or led by a woman? If there, I hope those dinosaurs pass away soon…

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