Innovation is a monthly column in Madison Magazine covering startups, entrepreneurism, and innovative ideas coming out of Dane County, Wisconsin.
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A Venture Capital Pioneer
Richelle Martin is one of relatively few venture capital fund directors in Wisconsin
Madison Magazine monthly Innovation column, April 2020
Richelle Martin is one of Wisconsin’s few active female directors of a venture capital fund, the Madison-based Winnow Fund whose goal is to raise $8 million. In a state with 55 venture and angel funds and networks, this is depressing news, if you ask me. I won’t waste precious column inches defending why diverse decision-makers matter, but consider this: 88% of all U.S. venture capital dollars go to companies with male CEOs. Do we really believe men account for 88% of our best, most bankable ideas?
“That’s part of why I [got into VC], because there weren’t [many] women, and representation is really important,” Martin says. Nationwide, only 12% of venture and angel groups have women in decision-making roles — even though female entrepreneurship has doubled in the last 20 years. Here in Wisconsin, according to the Wisconsin Tech Council’s 2019 Portfolio report, only 14% of the 121 Wisconsin companies backed by venture capital were woman-led or -owned. Female VCs are twice as likely to invest in female founders, so Martin’s role could make a big difference.
—Maggie Ginsberg is an associate editor at Madison Magazine and a long-time award-winning freelance writer. Innovation is her monthly column for Madison Magazine focused on startups, entrepreneurism and innovative ideas coming out of Dane County, Wisconsin.