Office Hours for female VCs, founders expands to New York City

  • Female Founder Office Hours starts in NYC Jan. 9
  • Aims to increase venture funding to companies founded by women
  • Group started in San Francisco in November

An initiative to increase venture funding to companies founded by women is expanding to the East Coast after launching in San Francisco in November.

NYC Female Founder Office Hours will be held at the headquarters of Union Square Ventures in January, after a group of female Bay Area investment partners launched the first office hours event for San Francisco-area seed-stage startups in November.

The kickoff event featured a talk on how to fundraise by Jess Lee of Sequoia Capital and Jenny Lefcourt of Freestyle Capital, followed by 40 half-hour slots for one-on-one discussion between founders and partners.

Now the office hours are expanding to New York City. On Jan. 9, New Enterprise Associates Partner Dayna Grayson and Union Square Ventures Partner Rebecca Kaden will host a panel discussion before female entrepreneurs meet individually with VC investors, including Hayley Barna of First Round Capital, Ellie Wheeler of Greycroft PartnersKarin Klein of Bloomberg Beta and Shana Fisher of Third Kind Venture Capital.

While the November event was geared toward seed-stage companies, Grayson said the January get-together will be for companies across all funding stages.

Dayna Grayson, partner, New Enterprise Associates
Dayna Grayson, partner, New Enterprise Associates. Photo courtesy of NEA.

“We need to support more females in the industry overall, both on the entrepreneur and VC side,” Grayson said.

The initiative was spearheaded by Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures and Sequoia’s Jess Lee as a way to overcome both unconscious and explicit bias to create greater gender parity in venture investing.

That’s not to say that the antidote for VCs’ reputation as an all-boys club is to create an all-girls club, Grayson said. “We’re not saying that just female VCs should fund female entrepreneurs,” she said.

“We’re coming together, saying we’re behind this initiative, want to see the numbers go up, and we’re willing to dedicate our time to it,” she said.

The New York office-hours organizers have already received far more demand for the event than there are available spaces, Grayson said.

Applications will be screened to ensure that the entrepreneurs who are most likely to benefit get top priority. Grayson said the organizers will look at the quality of entrepreneurs, the likelihood of their projects being fundable, and whether the business is already in the market.

Two more office-hour events, for Series A and growth-stage companies, are scheduled for, respectively, February and March in San Francisco, and Grayson said there are plans to expand to Boston and Los Angeles.

The inaugural Female Founder Office Hours event in San Francisco in November 2017. Photo courtesy of the organization.