Day Zero: one of the simplest ways to vary funding ranges for ladies founders is to again them from the beginning


As a lady founder and investor, I’ve thought lots about how greatest to extend the variety of ladies founders who increase capital and scale companies.

Antler is uniquely positioned to impression the gender mixture of founders by advantage of our funding quantity and stage on the very high of the funnel as a day zero investor.

Whereas VCs aspire to spend money on extra ladies founders, they are typically constrained by their top-of-funnel (the proportion of founding groups they see with a lady founder).

Positioned on the very high of the founder funnel, Antler can affect the gender mixture of founders who begin an entrepreneurial journey. We do that by headhunting and screening current and potential entrepreneurs into an Antler cohort, the place they’ll construct a co-founding workforce and validate their enterprise mannequin on the trail to securing funding.

By scouting, investing in and supporting extra ladies founders, we may also help form a extra gender-diverse top-of-funnel for later-stage VCs and, collectively, shift the gender combine throughout the Australian startup ecosystem.

Antler by the numbers

Annually, Antler Australia selects greater than 200 founders to work with us, from ~ 2,000 candidates. We spend money on round 30 groups and 80% of those founding groups go on to lift exterior capital, typically inside 12 months of our preliminary funding.

Over time our cohorts have been 25% ladies founders and 37% of investees in Antler Fund I’ve no less than one girl founder. These companies have accounted for 39% of Antler’s follow-on rounds however account for simply $24m of the $100m in exterior capital raised throughout the Fund I portfolio.

Why gender?

It’s now extensively accepted that range amongst founders and decision-makers just isn’t solely fairer and extra equitable but in addition results in higher financial and funding outcomes.

The 2022 State of Australian Startup Funding reveals ladies founders accounted for 23% of deal quantity however solely 10% of invested capital. The determine that sticks most in my thoughts is from the International Gender Hole Report launched by the World Financial Discussion board; on the present tempo of change, it should take 132 years to succeed in gender parity. This is just too gradual and clear proof that rather more must be achieved.

Range, after all, goes far past gender and Antler’s Range & Inclusion Coverage talks about a few of our rules and strategy to broader range themes akin to ethnicity, nationality and LGBTQI+. The information reveals that whereas a lot stays to be achieved, we are inclined to carry out higher on different measures of range akin to nationality and ethnicity, whereas gender metrics lag. We anticipate that improved gender steadiness amongst leaders and decision-makers will positively impression range, fairness and inclusion throughout a broad vary of measures.

Antler’s strategy

We recognise that expertise is all over the place however alternative just isn’t. And so, like our founders, we continuously take a look at, be taught and quickly iterate on our strategy to assist ladies founders to launch game-changing firms.

Listed here are 10 rules which have helped inform our strategy.

1. Finest Thought Wins

As a world investor, Antler advantages from collective thought and experimentation throughout our 25 places. I lately spoke with some Nordic colleagues who, as in lots of areas of DE&I, are market-leading. In Australia, we leverage these insights and learnings in our Ladies of Antler initiative.

We additionally hope that by sharing our strategy and welcoming enter, the alternate of concepts and greatest observe throughout the ecosystem will assist us all transfer quicker in direction of gender fairness.

2. Goal-Pushed

Particular, measurable targets present a signpost for evaluating competing priorities primarily based on impression.

For instance, we’ve thought of whether or not the Ladies of Antler neighborhood needs to be for ladies solely or open to all. Ladies founders are after all heterogeneous and Antler has noticed ranging views between those that worth a protected area for individuals who establish as ladies and others who imagine that should you don’t actively embody males as a part of the method it defeats the aim of agitating for change.

In evaluating these paths, we’ve prioritised the target of attaining extra and quicker change and chosen to maintain periods open for all.

3. Position Fashions 

The need to see what we might be is highly effective. Whereas now we have an extended technique to go, there was a substantial constructive change over the previous decade within the illustration of ladies buyers, together with on the Associate stage (Elicia McDonald, Jackie Vullinghs, Sam Wong, Rachel Yang, Andrea Gardiner), outstanding angel buyers (Cheryl Mack) and profitable ladies founders from Canva (Melanie Perkins) to Mr Yum (Kim Teo), Airwallex (Lucy Liu), Modibodi (Kristy Chong), Crimson Balloon (Naomi Simson), Adore Magnificence (Kate Morris) and lots of others.

Antler Australia is proud to have invested in formidable ladies founders akin to Skye Theodorou (Upcover), Helena (Circulate of Work), Joyce Ong (Tax Nuggets Academy) and Cat Lengthy and Joanna Auburn (Hint).

After all, it’s not sufficient although to showcase ladies founders in women-focused periods, we should be aware of an appropriately numerous illustration throughout our organisations on the whole. For Antler, this implies contemplating acceptable illustration throughout all touchpoints akin to founder interviews, masterclasses, teaching, concepts validation periods, funding committees, fireplace chats (Felicity McVay, former International Head of Leisure at Tik Tok) and in our public and social media presence.

4. Instruments & Actionable Insights

Sensible ideas and examples assist present founders and workforce members with a “how-to” information for navigating and overcoming obstacles. These embody:

  • Recognising and responding to prevention questions: ladies founders are usually requested prevention questions by a ratio of two to 1, in comparison with their male counterparts. Antler runs periods on methods to recognise, reframe, reposition and overcome these questions.
  • Overcoming bias in fundraising – a workshop for underrepresented founders to beat bias facilitated by AWS startups
  • Pitching to shoppers and buyers. In some circumstances, ladies are typically much less forthright in pitching themselves and their merchandise and companies which could be perceived as a insecurity or ambition. Pitching and training periods encourage ladies founders to strike acceptable notes of ambition and potential when pitching and consciousness of tone, phrase alternative and physique language.
5. Recognising the Position of Males

Ladies can’t and shouldn’t need to be solely accountable for making mandatory adjustments to realize gender fairness.

As a Board Member at not-for-profit Heads Over Heels (now Apropela), which empowers ladies founders by way of game-changing connections, we all the time strived for no less than 40% male occasion attendance. This united attendees in a typical, sensible trigger, broadened the chances for high-impact introductions and gave weight to the significance of the initiative for everybody.

6. Language and Unintended Penalties

Paradoxically, generally the push for inclusiveness can inadvertently exclude. The absence of mal intent is inadequate as a result of even when unintended, language has the ability to hurt. Some fundamentals embody mindfulness when utilizing phrases akin to gender vs intercourse, feminine vs ladies and male vs males and use of most popular pronouns. We are able to all critically consider our personal lexicon and whether or not it might do with a refresh and respectfully nudge these round us to do the identical when mandatory.

One instance is referring to feminine founders (slightly than the popular ladies founders), which can infer a organic view of gender slightly than one linked to id. In an analogous vein, we’ve questioned whether or not Ladies of Antler needs to be Womxn of Antler or certainly People of Antler.

The tone can be essential. I lately attended an occasion with a bunch of extremely credentialed buyers and wealth managers. I discovered myself bristling when incisive, authoritative panellist feedback have been described as “lovely” or “pretty” by the moderator (a lady) and when a senior member of a serious household workplace was known as “sweetie” when asking a probing, forthright query of the panel. It felt minimising. Though the intent was past reproach, the impression was nonetheless felt.

7. The On a regular basis issues

Excessive-minded coverage and intent don’t imply a lot if, in on a regular basis interactions, individuals are made to really feel remoted and “othered”.

At a latest occasion, after a number of break instances spent as the one girl in a bunch, I occurred to take a seat with a desk of ladies over lunch. We noticed one after the other males consciously avoiding our desk as they veered off carrying their plates to different, generally empty, tables, both with an averted gaze or a “no means am I sitting there!” gag. Finally, a few males did be a part of us however the hit fee was woefully low and we have been all slightly appalled. As one girl famous, “I’m continuously the one girl at a desk of males, I might by no means behave that means!”

In an Antler cohort context, we search to coach, inform and equip and workforce and our founders to contemplate and navigate on a regular basis interactions. For instance, by way of obligatory unconscious bias coaching throughout the Antler workforce and considerate setup and guidelines of engagement for cohort design sprints which may generally be dominated by extra vocal and assertive contributors on the expense of others.

8. Accumulate and Share Knowledge

Antler Australia will develop and measure our progress in opposition to key metrics akin to the share of ladies founders in any respect levels in our utility and funding funnel and the efficiency of ladies founders post-investment. By capturing self-assigned founder knowledge on gender and different range measures on the very starting of our interplay (utility stage) we could be more and more granular and correct in our methodology and reporting.

9. Equip founding groups

At Antler, a deal with ESG, range, fairness and inclusion is a elementary a part of our DNA and we attempt to authentically embed these rules in all that we do, passing on this basis to the groups we spend money on. Even earlier than funding, we encourage groups to contemplate ESG dangers, alternatives and approaches for his or her companies together with equitable hiring and inclusive tradition.

10. Senior Purchase In

Range and fairness initiatives gained’t be efficient in the event that they’re not owned and championed by probably the most senior members of an organisation.

At Antler, our Range & Inclusion Council consists of the CEO and a gender numerous group of leaders throughout operate and geography. Ladies of Antler periods are prioritised and attended by each senior women and men throughout the workforce together with the Companions.


  • Cath Rogers is a companion at Antler Australia.


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