Woman-led True Wealth Ventures has $19.1 million to invest in woman-led Texas startups

Women-led Texas venture firm True Wealth Ventures announced today that it has raised $19.1 million to invest in women-led startups — with more than 80 percent of those funds coming from women.

The Austin-based venture firm wants to help close the venture capital gender gap by investing in promising startups across the state, including in Dallas. Its general partners, Sara Brand and Kerry Rupp, plan to invest in 12 companies in the consumer and consumer health technology industries, according to a news release.

True Wealth Ventures is led by Brand, a former semiconductor researcher and founder of (512) Brewing Co. and Rupp, former CEO of DreamIt, a startup accelerator and early-stage fund for digital health and education technology companies.

In an interview with The Dallas Morning News in December 2015, Brand and Rupp said the male-dominated world of venture capital misses a prime business opportunity when it overlooks women-led companies. Research by consulting firm McKinsey & Co. shows women-led companies tend to have higher returns and higher revenue despite tending to have less capital and fewer resources. And they said women make the majority of purchasing decisions when it comes to consumer and health care products.

Women founders received just 2.2 percent of total venture capital in 2017, according to data from PitchBook, private equity and venture capital database. At venture firms, women are also underrepresented, holding about 11 percent of all investment decision-making positions, according to a 2016 study by the National Venture Capital Association and consulting firm Deloitte.

Other investment firms, including BBG Ventures and Female Founders Fund in New York, and national investing groups, such as Golden Seeds, have worked to increase the funding that’s flowing to female-led companies. But Brand and Rupp said they wanted to start one that’s focused on the central and southern U.S.

When Rupp ran startup accelerator DreamIt, she said some of its strongest early-stage companies were turned down by investors who said they didn’t invest in women.

“Those are things I wouldn’t expect someone to think – never mind say out loud – but it happened more than once to people I know,” she told The Dallas Morning News. “Knowing that kind of bias still existed in the marketplace, especially when these [women-led] companies tend to outperform, made for a great opportunity from a financial return perspective.”

True Wealth Ventures typically invests between $250,000 and $500,000 in early-stage companies and prefers to take a board seat. It has made two investments so far: $500,000 in UnaliWear, an Austin-based company that makes voice-controlled smart watch company that’s designed for seniors to guard against falls or other health risks, and $400,000 in BrainCheck, a Houston startup that designed a platform to test cognitive health.