“Empowering Entrepreneurs: Artemis Fund Secures $36 Million to Support Diverse Innovators Tackling Complex Challenges”

The Artemis Fund, which invests in underrepresented founders, closed on its second fund with $36 million in capital commitments. “We really wanted to make sure that our LPs aligned with our long-term goal of backing diverse founders,” Murakhovskaya told TechCrunch. VC investment itself continues to be fairly stagnant in these areas, according to my colleague Dominic-Madori Davis, who crunched the numbers on venture capital funding to these demographics earlier this month. Female founders and co-founders secured more capital overall in 2023 than they did in 2020, according to new Pitchbook research. For Fund II, Artemis intends to continue leading and co-leading investments and will target around 20 new companies.

The Artemis Fund is a remarkable force dedicated to investing in underrepresented founders, and its success has led the team to close on its second fund, with $36 million in capital commitments. In a world that struggles with diversity and equality, the Artemis Fund stands out as a champion for change in the startup industry. Founded in 2019 by Stephanie Campbell, Diana Murakhovskaya, and Leslie Goldman Tepper, the firm takes its name from the Greek goddess of the hunt, wild things, and a fierce advocate for women.

Artemis, with offices in Houston and New York, leads seed rounds for diverse founders in fintech, commerce, and care. Its portfolio boasts over 20 companies, all led by female founders, with over 60% having Black, Latinx, or immigrant leadership.

The fund’s impressive second round of backing is backed by a group that includes industry giants such as Bank of America, Bank of Montreal, TIAA Nuveen’s Churchill Asset Management, Texas Capital Bank, Amazon, The Rockwell Fund, and Ballentine Partners. Murakhovskaya spoke to TechCrunch about their long-term goal, stating, “We really wanted to make sure that our LPs aligned with our long-term goal of backing diverse founders. There’s a lot of pressure on that. We also want to grow with them.”

The firm’s strategy is to “help move the funding needle for female and diverse founders by leading their rounds, advocating for them, providing access to national co-investors, and instituting discipline early to hit real revenue growth,” said Campbell.

“However, it’s not just about doing good, it’s good business to have diverse perspectives,” she continued. “We realized that there was money left on the table, and we’re here to be the best at it. We’re staying the course in order to align the impact we’re making with financial returns, not only for our LPs but also for the communities that these entrepreneurs come from.”

It’s incredibly encouraging to see more capital being directed towards female and underrepresented founders, not only from Artemis but also from other notable funds such as Amplifica Capital and Black Tech Nation Ventures, which recently raised a $50 million fund. However, as my colleague Dominic-Madori Davis pointed out, VC investment in these areas remains stagnant overall.

Recent statistics show that funding for Black founders has even declined since 2021, with only 0.48% of all venture dollars allocated last year going towards Black-owned businesses. Similarly, women have only received 2% of total funding each year for the past two years.

But there is hope. Pitchbook research shows that female founders and co-founders secured more capital overall in 2023 than in 2020. This may be attributed to the fact that more women are now involved in the decision-making process, with Pitchbook reporting that at the general partner level, the share of female check-writers at the largest venture capital firms has slightly increased to 17.4%. However, at the same time, the number of female-led startups securing funding has actually decreased by 25%.

Despite these challenges, Artemis remains focused on investing in overlooked and underrepresented businesses, communities, and families in the U.S. With its first fund of $15 million launched in 2019, the firm has yet to see any exits. However, both Campbell and Murakhovskaya note that the portfolio continues to make impressive progress, with 60% of companies in Fund I securing follow-on capital totaling $250 million – 70% of which came from Artemis introductions.

While there are a growing number of funds focused on diverse founders, Artemis sets itself apart by also investing in tech that addresses barriers faced by these underrepresented groups. Some notable companies from their Fund I portfolio include senior home health company Naborforce, rideshare startup HopSkipDrive, Upgrade, a custom wig and extensions company, and corporate lactation room services startup Work & Mother.

Their focus on economic problems that other VCs often overlook is what truly sets Artemis apart from the rest. “A lot of people don’t like to talk about uncomfortable things, even though they’re so prevalent in our lives,” said Campbell. “We genuinely care about the underlying issues that affect a much larger population than people realize. In the care industry, there are these big, complex problems that no one seems to want to tackle. Instead, we talk about how difficult they are and that there must be a solution – we want to be the ones to find it.”

It’s safe to say that with its second fund on the horizon, Artemis will continue to pave the way for diverse and underrepresented founders, proving that supporting these groups is not only the right thing to do, but also a smart business decision.

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Max Chen

Max Chen is an AI expert and journalist with a focus on the ethical and societal implications of emerging technologies. He has a background in computer science and is known for his clear and concise writing on complex technical topics. He has also written extensively on the potential risks and benefits of AI, and is a frequent speaker on the subject at industry conferences and events.

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