Invest in women: fast-track progress

Watch women founders and investors across Antler's global community share why women are essential to progress.


March 8, 2024
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From providing outsized returns for investors to boosting global GDP growth, here are some of the critical reasons we believe women are fundamental to fast-tracking progress around the world.

Dravisha Katoch, Community Lead, Antler in India

"Let me start by sharing a personal excerpt from one of my meetings with a founder. Their question was simple—how do we improve diversity in our team without gender bias towards applications? And that’s an approach most people get fundamentally wrong. We don’t need companies or investors to look at gender before hiring. The need of the hour is a conscious effort by institutions to help more women reach an equitable state to even apply for jobs they want, or connect with VCs they wish to speak with. The funnel isn’t breaking at how many women are getting funded or how many women make it through interviews, it’s fundamentally and majorly broken at a grass-roots level. 

There are many complex social and societal issues that prevent women from even taking the risk of starting up or having the financial independence necessary to start up. Institutions need to be cognizant and go out and take initiatives to help more women free themselves from the societal and social issues. That may be via legal mandates for gender diversity across different organizations or not-for-profits driving change at a grass-roots level to uplift more women, but what’s clear is that it is absolutely essential for progress.

If that doesn’t convince you enough, according to the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), “Advancing women's equality could lead to a $28 trillion increase in the global GDP. This means a potential annual GDP boost of $770 billion by 2025, 18% higher than the expected business-as-usual GDP.”  

Jo Thomas, Co-founder + CEO, edXpert (Australia)

edXpert is on a mission to match 30,000 students with life-changing education by 2030 by reducing the overwhelm—using smart matching technology, a personalized and supportive process, and a quality curated panel of education providers. Founded in Antler’s Sydney residency in August 2023, the edXpert platform is live and already revenue-generating.

“We all read the news that VCs invested only 3% of their funds to all-women-founded startups in 2022. This embodies a flawed logic that significantly hampers progress. This disparity can only operate under the (flawed and subconscious) assumption that nearly all investable talent resides within men, a notion that is not only statistically improbable but also economically and innovatively inefficient.

Diverse teams and leadership have consistently shown to outperform their more homogeneous counterparts, suggesting that the VC industry's gender-biased portfolio choices are settling for a lower average level of performance and innovation—in an industry that prides itself on both those things.

Granted, there are fewer women “in the pipeline”—but not 97% less. We have to ask ourselves—is this a self-perpetuating bias that discourages women from pursuing entrepreneurship in the first place?

If so, then this is reinforcing a cycle that limits the flow of diverse ideas and innovations into the market and hinders progress (and profits!).

Correcting this imbalance by investing more equitably in women is essential for unlocking a wealth of untapped potential and leveraging the full spectrum of human talent for economic and societal advancement. It's not merely about fairness or gender equality; it's a strategic imperative for fostering innovation, driving economic growth, and achieving a more equitable and prosperous society. 

Progress is only possible when we start to understand the barriers in our path—and lack of investment in women is one of the largest.”

Ros Bazany, Partner, Head of ESG and Impact, Antler

"In the history of human advancement, progress stems not from the passage of time but from actions by visionaries focused on a better tomorrow. Recognizing people as architects of this future, progress demands diverse skills and perspectives, especially in the startup ecosystem and VC industry. Here, we challenge the status quo and redefine possibilities, yet women face persistent hurdles in securing funding and equitable valuation. This disparity calls for a collective industry effort, beyond mere acknowledgment.

Our global collaborations with Diversity VC and She Loves Tech are pivotal in dismantling these barriers, ensuring women founders receive the recognition and resources necessary for success. Antler has solidified our conviction that entrepreneurs of all backgrounds, including women, are essential in driving forward meaningful innovation and achieving lasting growth.

Cognitive diversity is crucial for resilient companies. Our portfolio showcases this principle in action: companies led by diverse teams, including 30% with women co-founders, excel in innovating and addressing complex problems such as climate change. 

Having supported over 8,500 founders, including a significant number of women founders, and a goal to enable an additional 2,000 by 2025, we are actively investing in a future that is geared towards continuous improvement. Our Beyond the Billion pledge will help build 300 women-led companies in the next three years, in a strategic move towards shaping an inclusive future that values and leverages the full spectrum of human capability.

The startup ecosystem and VC industry are more than just engines of economic growth—they are platforms for societal evolution. Success in the modern world hinges on diverse expertise and viewpoints. By supporting women in business, we're not just making things fairer, we are making our industry stronger."

Yaumi Sugiharta, Co-founder + CEO, Base (Indonesia)

Base, an Indonesian technology-based beauty and wellness brand that celebrates uniqueness by empowering people to choose the right skin care without guesswork through a Smart Skin Test. Founded in Antler’s Singapore residency in March 2019, the Base team has raised $7.2 million in capital following Antler’s day zero investment.

“Women are crucial in driving economic advancement, particularly in developing nations like Indonesia, where their untapped potential can help address labor shortages and stimulate GDP growth. The presence of women in top management not only boosts organizational performance but also emphasizes the valuable perspectives they bring to leadership positions.

Indonesia has made strides in this regard, with approximately 32.26% of women actively engaged in managerial roles as of 2022, marking a notable increase from the 22% reported in 2015.

Despite encountering a confidence gap, women's determination to succeed remains evident, underscoring the importance of creating supportive environments that empower them to pursue their goals. Furthermore, women's involvement in entrepreneurship drives innovation, generates employment opportunities, and fosters economic resilience, highlighting the transformative impact of their initiatives. By embracing gender diversity and advocating for women's empowerment, societies can tap into a vast talent pool and ingenuity, propelling the nation toward inclusive growth and prosperity.”

Aleksandra Medina and Katrin Kaurov, Co-founders, Frich (USA)

Frich is bridging the gap between financial institutions and Gen Z—unlocking a $2.4 trillion market by helping credit unions and community banks acquire and engage with Gen Zers. Founded in Antler's New York residency in Fall 2021, the Frich team has raised $1.5 million to date from Goodwater, Restive, Discover Fund, Sunstone, and K20.

“It seems strange that we’re still asked to answer this question and be expected to provide metrics and stats to prove that women are essential to progress. Because OF COURSE we are! Today women control more than $7 trillion in buying power and there are more women than men living in the US. It’s simply a lost opportunity if more than half of the population is not given the same level of respect, opportunity, and encouragement to pursue their professional dreams.

Women-led startups deliver 2x the revenue per dollar invested compared to male-founded businesses.  Investing in women (in every meaning of the word) isn’t just the right thing to do, it is simply a smart financial decision."

JaeHee Chang, Partner, Antler in South Korea

“Women, by nature, possess experiences and viewpoints inherently different from those of men. In the context of innovation, these perspectives create solutions that are far more comprehensive and impactful.

This is something I witness daily at Antler, both in our founders and within my team. Women bring a nuanced understanding, shaped by their distinct journeys, that enriches the problem-solving process. It's a reminder that progress isn't forged by a single mind, but by a chorus of voices. Each voice contributes its unique value, harmonizing to create something truly transformative.”

Kimberley Tait, Vice President, Antler global team

“Back in 2009, economist Kathy Matsui published her first "Womenomics" research paper on how societies in Japan and around the world can harness half the population to boost long-term economic growth. The same idea of women holding up half the sky applies to innovation. Half of problem-solving potential is lost if women aren't given equal opportunities to innovate. 

A Kauffman Foundation study showed that boosting female entrepreneurship could produce a positive effect on the U.S. economy equal to the large-scale entry of women into the labor force during the 20th century. Research has also shown that women-led tech startups are more capital-efficient, receiving higher returns on investment and—when venture-backed—generate higher revenue than male-owned tech companies. 

That creates tremendous upside for investors and all of society. Leveling the playing field for female entrepreneurs can only accelerate progress with more perspectives, more ideas, and more problem-solving—when we need all hands on deck to tackle the complex issues faced by the world.”

At Antler, we know that exceptional founders can come from anywhere with any background. Do you have the drive and grit to build a startup that solves a meaningful problem? Apply to an Antler residency in 27 locations around the world.



The investor backing the world's most driven founders, from day zero to greatness. Enabling thousands of founders every year to launch and scale companies that move the world forward.

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