The European Women in VC community comprises more than 1000 experienced female venture capital investors hailing from various parts of Europe and beyond. 

Across different regions, the presence of female investors in angel and VC funding ranges from merely 5% to 15%, while female entrepreneurs receive a mere 2% of VC funding.¹

While we are no anthropologists, we see a tight connection between women in VC and VC funding for women. Woman founders still face problems accessing equity finance to start and grow their ventures. A key ingredient for increasing investment in women entrepreneurs is having a diverse set of decision-makers and cheque writers. But this is still not the case. 

We had the opportunity to discuss with Jennifer Webb, Investment Director at Swisscom Ventures her career aspirations, why she chose VC and what advice she would give to women founders. With 20% female partnership and a majority 75% representation of women at the Director level, Swisscom Ventures is leading by example.

Jennifer Webb’s interview

In navigating one’s career path, Jennifer believes that the quest for impact and alignment with personal values often drives pivotal decisions. For many, venture capital emerges as a compelling mechanism to shape industries and foster sovereignty. Reflecting on her own journey, Jennifer initially recognized VC as a potent tool to drive innovation in areas that deliver social and environmental impact as well as overall productivity. 

“When I started off my career and was evaluating, you know, how do I best deploy my career to have an impact on how I want the world to be? I actually chose VC as the mechanism.” 

Venture capital is a conduit for bolstering sovereignty, particularly in retaining critical industries within Europe’s borders. Consider the paradigm of cloud infrastructure, where staggering wealth transfers from Europe to the US underscore the imperative of fortifying domestic capabilities. It is the double factors of sustainable innovation and safeguarding wealth creation that propels Jennifer’s commitment to the VC landscape, even in Switzerland, where innovation is a primary ‘natural’ resource.

“Having a very sharp story, having a very clear kind of founder product fit, and also just to be authentic to yourself.” 

Jennifer states that amidst the dynamic landscape of entrepreneurship, communicating a compelling narrative is paramount. Aspiring female founders must articulate a clear vision for the future and how their product/technology is well positioned for market power within that industry and trend. In pitching ventures, emphasis on the vision and potential upsides of the business plan resonate. Too often, female entrepreneurs are confronted with questions based in negativity or risk aversion, veering them away from their visionary stance. It is imperative to overcome such questions and ensure the full potential is well understood. 

“Often women get forced into our answering more negative or risk orientated questions, and it’s important, I think, as a female entrepreneur, not to be dragged in that way, to really make sure that people really see you as a visionary leader.” 

Furthermore, a cautionary note emerges regarding gender assumptions relating to the investors. While it may seem reasonable to assume that women investors would not be biased against women, this is not necessarily the case. Female investors can be equally biased as males but overall, they are more likely backers. Regardless of where and how the bias emerges, what is important is that it hampers investment outcomes. Diverse teams are shown repeatedly to outperform. Swisscom Ventures is paving the way with 20% female partnership and a majority 75% representation of women at the Director level. 

In contemplating who she would call to make an on-the-spot investment decision, Jennifer mentions names like Bill Gates and Al Gore. Closer to home, Gina Domanig of Emerald Technology Ventures stands as a source of inspiration.

Navigating the ever-evolving terrain of entrepreneurship means championing innovation, upholding sovereignty, and fostering inclusivity. In the realm of venture capital, each investment embodies not just financial potential, but the promise of shaping a more resilient and equitable future for generations to come.