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ALIAVIA Ventures raises $13.5M fund for female-led startups
Wed, 11th Oct 2023

California-based venture capital firm ALIAVIA Ventures has announced the successful closing of its first fund, raising AU$13.5 million (US$8.7 million) from high-profile family offices and investors. Notable backers include Carol Schwartz of Trawalla, EQT, and Climate Council, Tattarang (the Forrest Family Office), Robyn & Victoria Denholm of Wollemi Capital Group, Dom Pym, Founder of Up Bank (Euphemia), and Cynthia Scott of Zip Co.

ALIAVIA Ventures, established in 2021, focuses on investing exclusively in female-founded tech startups across Australia and the United States. Their mission is to address the significant gender imbalance in venture capital funding, where only 2% of investment went to all-female-founded startups in 2022, despite these companies delivering a remarkable 35% higher return on investment compared to all-male-led teams.

Since its inception, ALIAVIA has committed approximately AU$8.4 million to support nine female-founded tech startups. Notable investments include Eugene, an Australian at-home genetic testing startup; HowToo, an online training platform; Othelia, a culture AI startup; and Loupe, a U.S.-based art-streaming startup.

ALIAVIA was co-founded by Marisa Warren and Kate Vale, both Australian-Americans with extensive experience in the tech industry, having held senior positions at Google, YouTube, Spotify, SAP, Microsoft, and Workday. They initiated ALIAVIA to combat the funding gap and gender disparity in the tech and venture capital sectors.

The firm focuses on investing in startups with at least one female founder that are developing B2B or B2C tech solutions, starting from pre-seed and seed stages. The ALIAVIA team includes Venture Partners Levi Aron, former CEO of Deliveroo Australia and Zip Co., and Alexis Versandi, formerly of Morgan Stanley and Marshall Wace. Sheetal Singh Tobin, an ex-Google and Propel executive, serves as Head of Platform.

Marisa Warren, co-founder and managing partner of ALIAVIA, expressed her concern about the gender imbalance in tech and venture capital: "The gender imbalance is appalling, and while there is a lot of talk that the inequality is shifting, we're still a long way from parity. We want to see more billion-dollar startups funded and led by women."

She added, "As investors, we have the power to change the world through what we invest in. We want to make our dollars count by investing in gender-diverse teams that are having a real positive impact on the world, while also delivering superior returns."

ALIAVIA adopts a concentrated portfolio approach to provide comprehensive support to their founders. They act as a bridge for Australian startups looking to expand into the U.S., helping them navigate the differences between the markets and connecting them with a network of co-investors and partners.

Carol Schwartz AO, ALIAVIA's anchor investor, highlighted the importance of the fund in advancing gender equality in entrepreneurship, stating, "Marisa and Kate are pioneers — they're the first and only pre-series A VC in Australia to be established by, and invest exclusively in women."

Lisa Vincent, CEO & Founder at HowToo, one of ALIAVIA's portfolio companies, expressed her pride in being part of their ecosystem, emphasizing the valuable support and empowerment provided by the ALIAVIA team and their LPs.

In addition to ALIAVIA, Marisa Warren is also the founder of ELEVACAO, a pre-accelerator program dedicated to empowering women tech founders. Since its launch in 2015, ELEVACAO has supported 175 entrepreneurs and produced several successful exits, including HealthMatch and Coviu, which collectively raised over $120 million in funding.