US and Asian female-focused venture firm SoGal Ventures has fully closed its $15-million debut fund as of late 2019, according to its Singapore-based founding partner Pocket Sun. The venture firm is eyeing a second fund in 2021 but declined to share specifics on its fundraising targets.
Sun told DealStreetAsia that the firm raised capital from 99 investors comprising a mix of family offices, venture capital firms, corporates and industry associations across the US and Asia. SoGal Ventures is associated with SoGal Foundation, a global network and platform aimed at educating and empowering female and minority entrepreneurs and investors.
Sun, who co-founded SoGal Ventures with her US-based partner Elizabeth Galbut, shared that female representation in the venture community has come a long way since the fund’s inception in 2016. Many more female-led venture firms have been launched in Southeast Asia such as Teja Ventures and Her Capital. There are, however, many areas of improvement.
“There has been a lot of news about big firms promoting women to be partners. But in closed-door conversations, I still hear about women not having cheque writing abilities or only being able to write smaller cheques compared to their male counterparts. A lot of it is lip service or for PR purposes. Many women who are raising their own funds also find it really difficult because LPs are slow to change,” said Sun over the phone from Singapore.
SoGal Ventures invests in early-stage, female-founded companies that focus on improving the quality of life for women and under-represented groups. It writes cheque sizes of $100-300k going up to $1 million with room for follow-on investments.
Its first fund has deployed in 35 companies globally, most of which are from the US. SoGal Ventures has only made one Asian investment to date, even though Sun has been based in Singapore since 2015. This was in Singapore-based fitness and gym subscriptions service GuavaPass, which was acquired by its New York competitor ClassPass in January 2019.
Sun explained that the lack of strong consumer-facing startups in Asia led to SoGal’s low investment activity in the region. The team had also found more unique and scalable companies in the US, which led them to invest more heavily there instead. Apart from ClassPass, SoGal also secured an exit via US workplace analytics startup Werk, which was acquired by The Mom Project in March this year.