The Era of the Woman Entrepreneur: Recap of 11th Annual Golden Seeds Summit

Loretta McCarthy, Managing Partner, Golden Seeds

March 7, 2019


Golden Seeds recently hosted our 11th Annual Golden Seeds Summit in New York City, celebrating 14 years of investing in women-led businesses. The highest-attended event in our history, members and entrepreneurs came from across the U.S. to focus on trends in early stage companies, and get updates from many of our companies.

The theme of this year’s Summit was “Enduring Leadership,” reflecting Golden Seeds’ role in focusing early and intensely on the potential of women-led companies. Attendees experienced the energy and power that comes from a group of mission-driven people. We look forward to this energy continuing throughout the year and leading us into our 15th anniversary year.

A highlight of the Summit was a keynote talk by Phyllis Newhouse, CEO of Xtreme Solutions, a leading cybersecurity company and one of the 50 fastest growing women-owned companies in the U.S.

The Era of the Woman Entrepreneur

We celebrate that Golden Seeds is a living expression of this quote. The last 10 years have seen an explosion of women-led companies, and we are proud of our role in recognizing their potential. Golden Seeds was the first company to fund women-led organizations at scale. To date we have invested over $115M in more than 150 companies. Investing is an endurance sport and we’re continually working to go the distance.

The growth in just 10 years is nothing short of remarkable and it is not slowing down. In 2018 alone, an average of 1,800 women-owned companies launched each day. Since 2007, women-owned businesses have surged 58 percent, which is well above the rate of all businesses, which grew at a much more modest 12 percent. Women-owned businesses made up 40 percent of all U.S. companies in 2017 compared to just 29 percent in 2007. [American Express’ State of Women-Owned Business Report, 2018]

This outstanding growth demonstrates that now really is the era of the women entrepreneur, and we’re proud to have been joined by many other investors and organizations who recognize the merits of investing in women-led and diverse teams.

Celebrating Our Entrepreneurs

Since our launch in 2005, we have had the honor of working with more than 150 companies — hundreds of smart, motivated women entrepreneurs. And watching these companies grow and gain recognition is extremely gratifying.

Last year, three Golden Seeds company leaders were named to Inc.’s “Female Founders 100.” This is a prestigious list of the top “100 Women Making Money, Creating Jobs and Changing the World.” It’s incredible to see these executives’ visions for healthcare, technology and consumer markets become a reality.

Christina Lampe-Onnerud, founder and CEO of Cadenza Innovation, appeared in Inc.’s Serial Entrepreneurs category, one that specifically focused on women who “are building their second (or third or fourth) company, and it likely won’t be their last.” The company is backed by more than $14 million in Series A funding led by Golden Seeds, along with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and the states of New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Surbhi Sarna, founder and president of nVision, appeared in the Problem Solvers category. As Inc. explains: “Some entrepreneurs divine the future, while others recognize the massive opportunity to fix what’s right in front of them.” For Sarna, the quest to detect ovarian cancer started with a health scare she had as a teenager. nVision developed a device that could extract cells from the fallopian tube, considered the origin of ovarian cancer. Four years later, it won FDA approval. Sarna’s work attracted initial investments from angel groups, individual investors and venture capital firms, including Golden Seeds, followed by a larger round of funding in which we further participated. Recently, she sold the company for $125 million to Boston Scientific, with the potential to reach $275 on earn-out.

Fran Dunaway, co-founder and CEO of TomboyX, is in the Movement Makers category and with good reason. It includes strategically brilliant entrepreneurs who have motivated people to rally around a cause that is bigger than their brand — and that’s what TomboyX is all about. Diversity and inclusion has been its hallmark, punctuated by messaging such as “comfortable underwear made for unapologetic people of all sizes and genders.”

2018 also brought with it the merger of Crimson Hexagon and BrandWatch. Crimson Hexagon is one of the many companies we have backed and it was gratifying to watch these two leaders in the social intelligence space merge. The combined company is the industry’s unquestioned leader in consumer insight analytics.

With all of this momentum in 2018, we look forward to what 2019 holds.

Driving Growth with Local Chapters

Golden Seeds is committed to finding the best women-led companies across the United States. This has led to our national footprint of six chapters: Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, New York, and Silicon Valley. During this year’s Summit, we celebrated our growing membership that consists of women and men across 20 different states and Puerto Rico. Our nationwide membership is dedicated to evaluating, funding and helping companies with at least one woman in a management role.

Members and entrepreneurs left our annual Summit with new knowledge and resources, and arrived back to their local chapters eager to share all they learned and continue the great work of investing in promising women-led companies.

To learn more about Golden Seeds membership, visit http://www.goldenseeds.com/angel-network/interested-in-joining.