After raising $2.5 million to invest in 18 companies, The JumpFund is launching a second, larger fund to continue improving access to capital for female entrepreneurs.
The JumpFund II will be led by six general partners: Managing Partner Kristina Montague, Cory Allison, Betsy Blunt Brown, Shelley Prevost, Tiffanie Robinson and Stefanie Crowe.
The group is aiming to raise $5 to $7 million and close the fund by the first quarter of next year, Montague said.
"We've tapped out our first fund for new investments," she said. "But there's still a huge opportunity out there. There's still not enough access to capital for women, in the Southeast in particular."
Within their 18 portfolio companies, the team has "really nice unrealized returns," she also said.
The initial fund was composed of more than 50 investors, and 98 percent of them were from Chattanooga.
With the new fund, leaders want to expand the capital base and branch out more into the cities where the current businesses are.
Representative companies of the first fund are:
- Feetz Inc., founded by Lucy Beard, CEO, graduate of the Gig Tank accelerator in Chattanooga
- SuperFanU, co-founded by Kayla Mount, COO, in Louisville, Kentucky
- NX Prenatal, also based in Louisville
- Emrgy, Rimidi Diabetes and Partpic, all based in Atlanta
- Stony Creek Colors in Goodlettsville, Tennessee
- MomSource Network, Knoxville
- Torch and Rezli, both based in Chattanooga
"We want to have more investors in those areas that can help us with deal flow and management of companies," Montague said. "That spreads our impact, I think."
When they started, The JumpFund founders had a series of assumptions, including the idea that women weren't getting as much capital investments and weren't getting all the possible opportunities.
Skeptics told them that the deal flow for women-led companies wasn't there.
Their assumptions were correct. And now, leaders are working to correct the problem, and to establish Chattanooga and the Southeast as the nation’s best places for women to invest in or start businesses.
The JumpFund is an affiliate of Golden Seeds, a New York-based angel investor network that has invested over $90 million in women-led companies.
In the past three years, The JumpFund has grown its national network of like-minded angel groups to include Belle Michigan, Plum Alley, Pipeline Angels, 37 Angels and Valor Ventures, all organized networks and funds investing in women and gender-diverse teams.
To apply for funding from The JumpFund, companies must be women-led with at least one or more women in "C-level" positions (CEO, CFO) who have a significant equity stake in their company.
The company must also demonstrate its potential to scale upward of $20 million in revenue and have a clear exit strategy.
And the founders are using a unique approach. They combine high expectations with mentorship, even for companies in which they don't invest.
"These women are finding us because we are a haven of support and mentorship," Crowe said. "We have very high standards, but we engage in a way that's not intimidating. If we don't invest with them, we leave them with tips and challenges."