What is The Helm’s thesis?
We are seizing the arbitrage opportunity to realize significant social and financial returns by investing in and supporting female-founded companies. We invest in founders who take a broad view of the needs of the world and are using technology to create novel, enduring solutions to difficult problems.
Does The Helm invest in particular sectors or industries?
Female founders don’t equal consumer. Yet, of the small amount of capital flowing to female founders nearly all of it is in that sector. We intend to leverage these overlooked opportunities, focusing on underfunded, high-performing founders outside the networks of traditional venture capital.
Do you only invest in companies led by women?
We invest in companies with at least one female founder.
How do you define “Female Founder”?
We believe that any person who identifies as a woman is a woman.
Do you invest in companies outside the U.S.?
We are geographically agnostic within North America, however, we anticipate that the majority of our deals will be sourced from New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, with a secondary emphasis placed on up-and-coming startup markets including Chicago, Seattle, Atlanta, and Austin.
What is The Helm’s stance on diversity and inclusion?
We are committed to ensuring that the work that we do, the women we invest in, and the stories we tell, is representative of the world we live in. We are proud of the work we accomplished in Fund I. Of the 11 companies we invested in 71% of the total number of founders were women-identifying. And of those founders, 52% were founders of color.
In May 2020, we developed a company-wide Diversity & Inclusion Action Plan. As it relates specifically to Fund II, we commit to the following:
- Ensuring that 15% of the deals we evaluate will be from Black founders and that 40% of the deals will be from BIPOC founders.
- Ensuring that 15% of the deals we invest in will be from Black founders and that 40% of the deals will be from BIPOC founders.
- Reaching out to 15% prospective Black LPs and 40% prospective BIPOC LPs.
- An investment committee which is comprised of 15% Black Advisors and 40% BIPOC
- Ensuring that 15% of the stories featured across all of our content and social platforms are about Black women and 40% are about BIPOC women
What stage do you invest and what is your investment criteria?
The Helm is generalist seed-stage fund investing in female founders who take a broad view of the needs of the world and are using technology to create novel, enduring solutions for difficult problems. We will be investing primarily in the late seed stage, which we define as post-product, meaning the minimum viable product for the company has already been created and exists in market. We are looking to see early traction to validate product market fit. For more information on our mission and investment thesis, visit our Why Venture page.
What do you look for in a founding team?
At the seed stage especially, the composition, experience, and character of the founding team will have a strong weighting in our investment decisions. The founders’ unique vision and professional and personal backgrounds should indicate to us why a given founding team is the best positioned to build the company.
Who are the investors behind The Helm?
Click here to meet our team.
How much do you usually invest in a new company?
For Fund II, our average check size will be $500,000.
Do you co-invest with other funds?
We are proud to have co-invested with some of the most prestigious individual & institutional investors in VC.
Do you contribute follow-on capital to your portfolio companies?
We aim to reserve up to 35% of the capital committed for follow-on investments in our portfolio companies.
I am fundraising. How do I apply to be considered for funding?
Please introduce yourself here.
What happens after I fill out the form?
If we are interested in learning more about your company, we will reach out to schedule a call. We try to respond to every company, but due to volume, unfortunately we can’t guarantee a response.
Membership to The Helm’s Investor Community
How do I become a Member?
Please complete the application form on our membership page.
What does Membership involve?
As a member, you will have access to monthly, vetted investment opportunities into female-founded companies. We will source and diligence the deal before walking you through the investment process. You will also receive access to our investor community (a group of values-aligned people to learn from and connect with), as well as other perks, like a 6-part angel investing masterclass, and an exclusive discount to The Helm Shop.
Do I need to be an accredited investor to join?
No, you do not need to be an accredited investor in order to join and enjoy the benefits of membership. However, if you would like to invest in deals, you do need to be an accredited investor.
How do you source the deals?
We operate a NYC-based venture capital fund with a far-reaching network of female founders and funders. We are in constant communication with them to keep our finger on the pulse of the best and most promising companies across the country.
How do you evaluate the deals?
Our team will take an initial meeting with founders and then bring a shortlist to our investment committee for a final evaluation before presenting deals to our members. We will evaluate the deals based on a number of factors, including the team, market, business model, and traction. While we will provide our assessment, it will be up to the individual member to do any further diligence necessary in order to inform their investment decision.
What industries will you focus on?
We strive to provide opportunities across all industries. In your investor intake form, you will be asked to identify industries that you are interested in. We will do our best to seek deals in these industries. Note that we also plan to present opportunities outside of traditional early-stage investing opportunities, such as film, for example.
Do I need to invest in a certain number of deals?
We expect accredited investors to participate in at least one deal (minimum $2,500 invested) per year.
What is the minimum investment I can make into each deal?
The minimum investment amount is $2,500 per deal. That said, we will only be able to facilitate the investment if collectively we reach the minimum investment size of the deal in question. If you are interested in investing in a deal that does not generate enough interest from the rest of the group, we will introduce you directly to the founder.
How much does membership cost?
The annual fee for membership is $750.
Are there any additional fees?
When making an investment, we follow the traditional 2-and-20 model. We will charge a nominal fee that is proportional to your investment size in order to cover administrative expenses (roughly 2 percent). The Helm will receive a 20 percent carried interest on all investment proceeds, after investors receive their return of capital.
Are you still making investments through your fund?
Fund I is closed and we couldn’t be prouder of our 11 Fund I portfolio companies. We are no longer making investments through this fund, however, we are actively investing in companies through Fund II. View our full portfolio here. If you are interested in investing in Fund II, please tell us a bit about yourself here.