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
Post-investment, what support can I expect from The Helm beyond money?
We believe that capital is only one part of the investment we are making into the companies that become part of The Helm’s portfolio. As partial owners, we will provide every possible resource to our founders to help them make their business successful, including our network, our collective expertise, and our time. We are not activist investors, but we are active investors in, and partners to, our founders. This means that we are investing in founders whose vision we believe in and support, without the need for aggressive influence or adjustment from us.
What stage do you invest and what is your investment criteria?
The Helm is a generalist seed-stage fund investing in companies with at least one female founder. 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.
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?
Lindsey Taylor Wood, Founder and CEO of The Helm
Over the last decade, Lindsey has built and run two companies and The Helm’s first fund. A proven operator and investor, she has invested in some of the country’s best women-led companies. Prior to The Helm, Lindsey founded and was President of an impact agency with clients like AOL’s MAKERS, Women Moving Millions, The Harnisch Foundation, and filmmakers Rashida Jones, Jill Bauer & Ronna Gradus. Before consulting, she was on the founding team of
Catapult, a crowdfunding platform for girls and women. Having spent 15+ years in the gender equality movement, her ability to found, build, and introduce new funding products with a gender lens has made her a sought-after strategist in the women’s rights movement.
Julie Weber, COO of The Helm
As COO of The Helm, Julie oversees day-to-day operations across all business lines. Her support of Fund I included fund administration, sourcing deals, investor relations, and platform and portfolio support. Julie has more than fifteen years of experience in global media and advocacy, internal communications, and project management having spent her early career with the United Nations and NGOs advocating for the health and rights of women and girls, executing international initiatives, developing key partnerships, and connecting diverse teams. She holds a Masters Degree in Gender, Development, and Globalisation from the London School of Economics.
An early-stage investor, Megan joins The Helm from SeedInvest, a NYC fund and investment platform that has deployed over $250M into 220 companies. There she led over 50 investments ranging from Seed to Series B across industries in the US and Europe. Prior to Seedinvest, Megan received her MBA at Yale while working in strategy consulting and product management. In addition, Megan spent 6 years in investment banking at Wells Fargo Securities where she structured debt private placements across 21 states on the East Coast. She maintains her Series 82 and also graduated Magna Cum Laude in Accounting from the University of South Carolina.
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.