Venture Capital Fund Expands With Another Round Of Investments In Female-Headed Firms

By Dave Flessner Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) More than providing capital, the "Jump Fund" is a highly motivated group of women who provide advice, introductions, encouragement and constructive challenges to female led startups.

Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn

Three years after launching one of the first female-led venture funds in the country, a Chattanooga venture capital fund is launching a second and bigger round of financing to back more female-owned or female-headed business startups.

The Jump Fund, which raised $2.5 million in 2013 and began making investments in businesses the next year, announced Friday that it plans to launch a second, larger fund to continue investments for female entrepreneurs.

The first fund has invested in 18 female-led companies across the Southeast and has reached the capacity of its initial funding.

"It's exciting to see that what we intuitively felt was an opportunity has been validated on many fronts since we conceived of The JumpFund in 2013," said Kristina Montague, managing partner for the Jump Fund. "We continue to see untapped investment opportunities of female-led growth ventures in our region which has led us to launch a second fund."

For JumpFund II, Montague said organizers are reaching beyond the 50 initial female investors to include both men and women interested in backing high-growth, female-headed companies in the Southeast.

"The JumpFund as an investment partner adds tremendous value to any start-up team," said Courtney Jones, founder and CEO of the Knoxville-based MomSource Network, which is one of the 18 businesses receiving investments and assistance from the Jump Fund. "More than providing capital, this highly motivated group of women have leveraged their network to provide advice, introductions, encouragement and constructive challenges that continue to propel my company toward high-scale and the national scene. Any female-led venture dramatically increases their chance for success with support from The JumpFund."

The six general partners of the Jump Fund -- Montague, Cory Allison, Betsy Blunt Brown, Shelley Prevost, Tiffanie Robinson and Stefanie Crowe -- often serve as advisers, directors or consultants in the businesses selected for funding by the Jump Fund.

The Jump Fund has helped to also provoke more interest in female-headed startups in Chattanooga, which was named last month by Thumbtack.com as the second best city in America for women to start a business.

Montague said Jump Fund investments have focused on technology, health care and consumer goods, and the leaders of many of the businesses backed by Jump Fund are helping to diversify the often male-dominated business scene "and changing the gender equation in the startup community."

The organizers of The JumpFund say their goal is to establish Chattanooga and the Southeast as the nation's best place for a woman to invest in or start a business.

The JumpFund is an affiliate of Golden Seeds, a New York-based angel investor network which has invested over $90 million in women-led companies. And over the past three years the JumpFund has grown its national network of like-minded angel groups to include Belle Michigan, Plum Alley,Pipeline Angels, 37 Angels, and Valor Ventures, all organized networks and funds investing in women and gender diverse teams.

To apply for funding from the JumpFund, companies must by women-led with at least one or more women in "C" level positions with a significant equity stake in their company. The company must also demonstrate its potential to scale upwards of $20 million in revenues and have a clear exit strategy.

Jump Fund investments spread across the South

* San Diego: Feetz, Inc, founded by Lucy Beard, graduate of the GigTank accelerator in Chattanooga, * Louisville: SuperFanU, co-founded by Kayla Mount, and NX Prenatal * Atlanta: EMRGY, Rimidi Diabetes, and Partpic * Goodlettesville, Tenn.: Stony Creek Colors in Goodlettesville, TN; * Knoxville: MomSource Network * Chattanooga: Torch and REZLI

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