The Glaring Gap Report

Less than 20% of global venture deal volume in 2019 went to startups with at least one woman founder. In terms of total dollars raised, 2019 saw only 13% go to those same companies. With the support of JPMorgan Chase, Embarc Collective benchmarked the extent of this glaring gap in Florida in 2020.

In Florida, the proportion of new startups with at least one woman founder has increased to 23% of new startups in 2019, but only because the total number of startups being founded fell significantly over the second half of the decade (reflecting national trends). Although the number of women-founded startups in Florida that raised early stage venture funding increased over time, they still received a disproportionately small share—12%—of early-stage VC dollars over the course of the decade.

This work is made even more pressing by the fact that since the COVID-19 pandemic began, quarterly VC funding for women founders is at a three-year low, while overall VC investments have largely stayed the same, and we found that women founders were more likely to report having their revenues drop since the pandemic began.

With regards to women startup investors, we know from the work done by All Raise that 65% of venture capital firms don't have a single woman partner and only 13% have a woman decision-maker. In Florida, we found that only 15% of firms had any woman team member listed at all, and only 8% had women in leadership or investment positions.

This report is divided into four sections:

  1. Women Founders in Florida and Regional Comparisons

  2. Startup Investors in Florida

  3. Startup Challenges and Milestones

  4. Database of Known Women Founders and Institutional Investors in Florida

This glaring gap exists across women founders and investors both nationally and in Florida. To help close that gap, we've taken three approaches:

1) Increase the Support for Women-Led Startups: Create support channels to help accelerate the growth of women-led businesses. Our partners at Tampa Bay Wave launched the TechWomen Rising accelerator in August and have been working intensively with 13 women founders to hit the critical growth milestones for their respective businesses. We at Embarc Collective have had the chance to check in regularly with these founders as part of our research for this report and can reinforce that a dedicated program like TechWomen Rising can not only provide key lessons that founders need to scale, but also a peer community and accountability.

2) Increase the Number of Women Startup Investors in Florida: The startup investment community does not reflect the demographics of our state. As reported in HBR, diverse investment teams do better than homogeneous ones.. We need to find pathways to both grow and diversify the investor base in Florida. However when accredited women investors are asked why they are not actively investing, not knowing how to evaluate a startup is often a top reason. That is why we have identified 50 women to participate Embarc Collective's first Glaring Gap Summit. This is an intensive 3-day training that will give these women the tools to thoroughly evaluate a startup investment opportunity.

3) Create the Commitment: Not investing in half of the population is a problem for all of us. We need to create accountability for our community to make things better. All participants of the Glaring Gap Summit will sign a pledge to be part of the solution. We hope that you are as motivated by the data in the Glaring Gap Report as we are to also create change. We invite you to commit to being a part of the solution by signing our Pledge to Eliminate the Glaring Gap. Together, we can make sure that day by day, more women-led startups are being built and invested in.

Women Founders in Florida

Startup Investors in Florida

Startup Challenges & Milestones

Building a company obviously requires capital, but we wanted to take a closer look at the other dimensions of building a business - customers, marketing, product, talent - to understand how to best serve women tech entrepreneurs in Florida. Broad entrepreneurial support, including incubators and accelerators, deliver workshops and mentorship across a variety of business-building subjects. Our hope is that this data can help ensure that these organizations and individuals in Florida are delivering the most relevant local support to the women tech entrepreneurs we collectively serve.

What about COVID-19? The challenges created by COVID-19 for women entrepreneurs were acutely felt during the fielding of research for the Glaring Gap report, but just starting to be understood. And in some ways, areas that were previous challenges have been muted during the pandemic, such as Florida not being perceived as a top destination for technology startups.

"I do not feel that geography plays as big a role as it used to, and funding sources for COVID-resistant services and products seem to be rising."

"The rise of 'doing business anywhere' makes Florida feel like it could be a very attractive place to relocate...bringing talent, capital and enterprise with it."

Women Founders & Investors in Florida

As part of our ongoing work, Embarc Collective has assembled a database of women founders and investors in Florida. We welcome additions from the community—if you would like to add an investor or add a founder, please do so.