Venture capital largely remains a male-dominated industry with only 15% of general partner positions being held by women. This equality gap results in funding bias, with female-founded startups being often undervalued.
The trend, however, seems to be shifting. I’ve made a list of 8 exceptional women in VC who — in my view — are changing the industry for the better.
Company: Sequoia Capital.
Notable investments: Embark Trucks (IPO), Pendulum, Wonolo, and Maven.
Former CEO of Polyvore (acquired by Yahoo!) Jess Lee joined Sequoia Capital as an investing partner in 2016. She became the firm’s first senior female U.S. investor in its 44-year-old history.
Apart from investing, Lee works closely with the engineering, product, design, and data science teams at Sequoia Capital. Lee also co-founded All Raise, a community that aims to “create a tech culture where women and non-binary voices are leading, shaping, and funding the future.”
“I came here [at Sequoia Capital] to be the partner I wish I’d had as a founder, the first person you text with good news and bad.” — Jess Lee.
Sonali De Rycker
Company: Accel. Position: Partner. Notable investments: Spotify (IPO), Letgo (acquired), Monzo, and BeReal. LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/sonaliderycker.
Sonali De Rycker has been a fixture on the Midas List Europe since 2017, a ranking of Europe’s top 100 tech venture capitalists put together by Forbes. She is considered one of the most impactful women in British tech; Sifted described her as “Europe’s VC queen.”
India-born De Rycker is the former Goldman Sachs banker and Atlas Venture general partner, who joined Accel in 2008. According to her LinkedIn page, she sits on 11 boards, including BeReal, Hopin, and Monzo.
“Every night when I go to sleep, I think of everything I could be doing more of.” — Sonali De Rycker.
Company: Blossom Capital.
Position: Founder and managing partner.
Notable investments: Checkout.com, Pigment, Dija (acquired), Moonpay.
Her VC firm makes investments in European startups at the Series A stage and focuses on finance, design, marketplaces, travel, developer-focused tools, infrastructure, and “API-first” companies.
In 2022, Blossom Capital raised $432 million in its third fund, which made it the largest fund focused on European startups’ Series A rounds.
Brown started her venture capital career at Index Ventures in San Francisco, assisting the firm in investing in companies like Typeform and Robinhood. While at Index, in 2016, Brown made Forbes’s 30 Under 30 list under the finance category.
“Ambition is infectious. Seeing someone who really wants to achieve something incredible, or do the impossible. That totally energizes me.” — Ophelia Brown.
Company: Puzzle Ventures.
Position: Solo general partner.
Notable investments: Hyperline, Sofia Salud, Datapeople, Pigment, and 22 others (as an angel investor).
In March 2023, Gloria Bäuerlein closed one of Europe’s first female solo GP funds, Puzzle Ventures. And, as one of the first funds in Europe with a female solo GP, it represents a significant step forward for gender diversity in venture capital.
Bäuerlein’s angel-operated, €22-million fund is dedicated to partnering with European pre-seed and seed founders who build “transformational B2B companies.” Her investors include founders and operators from Personio, Kry, Stripe, Coinbase, and WhatsApp.
Before launching the VC firm, Bäuerlein was an angel investor focusing on early-stage B2B SaaS and digital health startups across Europe, Latin America, and the U.S.
“I think founders want to work with people who have been in the trenches before.” — Gloria Bäuerlein.
Notable investments: Y42, Qatalog, Accurx, NFTPort, Healx, LabGenius, and Kheiron Medical.
In March, Sifted listed Irina Haivas as one of European VC’s top 11 female investors.
A surgeon-turned-VC, Haivas joined Atomico as a partner in 2018, where she focused on investments in health tech and enterprise software, including data infrastructure and tools, AI/ML-enabled SaaS and digital work.
Before Atomico, Haivas had been a late-stage investor at GHO Capital Partners and a vital member of the senior team at Bain & Co. During her tenure at Bain & Co, she worked with over 30 companies in Europe and the U.S. on innovation, product strategy, go to market, and M&A.
“Technology is an agent for change. It is one of the most impactful tools we have to build something that matters at a global scale.” — Irina Haivas.
Position: Co-founder and managing partner.
Notable investments: Bumble (IPO), Maker Studios (acquired by Disney), Pulse (acquired by LinkedIn), The RealReal (IPO), and Trunk Club (acquired by Nordstrom).
Dana Settle is one of the most influential venture capitalists in the world. Period.
After years of working with Bay Area startups, being a venture partner at Mayfield and then a partner at VSP Capital, Dana Settle — together with Jan Sigalow and Alan Patricof — started Greycroft. It was 17 years ago.
Over the years, Greycroft has made 776 investments, raised 14 funds, and made 127 exits, according to Crunchbase. Just in April, Greycroft closed a combined $1 billion in capital commitments across several new funds. Take a pause here and try to get your head around these numbers.
Settle is also a founding member of the non-profit Baby2Baby and female mentorship collective All Raise. Her firm has been known for backing female-founded companies, including Clique, Eloquii, and TheRealReal.
“You have to reinvent yourself all the time. You have to be innovative and entrepreneurial even within the companies you work for.” — Dana Settle.
Notable investments: Wolt (acquired by Doordash), iZettle (acquired by PayPal), Celonis, Mirakl, Hybris (acquired by SAP).
Forbes calls Laurel Bowden “a pioneer in a male-dominated industry” and one of Europe’s most respected investors, who “plays venture capital by her rules.” 83North — where Bowden is one of four investing partners — aims to make only one deal a year per partner.
Bowden became the first European partner of 83North (previously called Greylock IL), a firm that handles $2.2 billion in assets across Europe and Israel. 83North has invested in 88 startups since 2006.
According to her LinkedIn page, Bowden sits on 16 boards, including Mirakl, Paddle, Critizr, and Celonis.
She began her professional journey with a leading consulting firm in South Africa and later worked with Jerusalem Venture Partners through the Dotcom boom.
“When you start following the masses, that’s problematic.” — Laurel Bowden.
Company: Sequoia Capital.
Notable investments: UiPath (IPO), Deliveroo (IPO), Hopin, and Miro.
In 2021, Luciana Lixandru was ranked second on the prestigious Midas List, earning recognition as the second top VC in Europe, Israel, and the Middle East.
One year before that, Lixandru became Sequoia’s first partner in Europe, specializing in enterprise and consumer tech startups in Europe. She also plays a key role in overseeing Sequoia’s early-stage investments in the U.S. and European regions.
Prior to joining Sequoia, Luciana had served as a partner at Accel for 8 years. There, she made investments in Hopin, Miro, UiPath, Tessian, and Deliveroo.
Her true passion lies in empowering founders to realize their full potential and encouraging them to think globally.
“I always get asked whether I’d ever start my own company, but I just feel so lucky to be a partner to founders. I hope I'll get to do it for decades to come.” — Luciana Lixandru.
This is by no means the most comprehensive list of top female VCs — it's simply my selection. If you're interested in discovering more names — including Sabina Wizander, Leigh Marie Braswell, Annie Case, Arian Simone, Ayana Parsons, and Wendy Xiao — you can explore rankings compiled by Sifted, as well as the Forbes Midas List.
Cover photo of Irina Haivas taken from atomico.com.