Sybilla Masters Fund
The Sybilla Masters Story
In 1715, King George I of England awarded the first patent to a person residing in America to Thomas Masters for a method* of curing and processing corn into what would become known as grits. At Thomas’ insistence, the patent included the words, “…for a new invention found out by Sybilla, his wife.” So did the second patent for another invention for processing Palmetto leaves for making straw hats, a popular market in London which she virtually cornered.
But for Thomas, Sybilla Masters, like so many others, would have been lost to history. For far too long, women and people of many diverse backgrounds have been intentionally excluded from the activities of invention, business, property development, and to the ownership and rewards of their own work.
The Sybilla Masters Fund is chartered to source, fund, and champion diverse founding teams with at least one woman in a position of strategic and operational control. Our Fund is an intentional effort to promote the potential for all people to succeed at scalable entrepreneurship and enjoy the bounty of their efforts to build better ways to live and work together.
Fact: Diverse Founding Teams Deliver Higher ROI
We believe that diversity on corporate leadership and governing teams is a proxy for the willingness and ability of leadership teams to listen to and act on diverse ideas. It makes companies more resilient and better able to breach new markets more quickly and with greater success.
McKinsey reports that diverse teams are returning higher ROI than homogeneous teams. SharkTank's Kevin O’Leary asserts that over nearly a decade of putting his money behind small companies "not some of my returns, all of my returns, have come from the ones run by women or owned by women,"
Our Investment Thesis: Find Unicorns in Uncrowded Fields
More than 97% of funding at the Seed, Series A and stages beyond is controlled by and funds all-male, largely Caucasian, teams. Fifty-one percent of these funded teams graduate from Stanford and Harvard. That makes funding of all-male founders from these schools a very crowded space.
The most valuable deals are often funded in 'closed door' private deals between colleagues at existing VC firms, which means other investors rarely gain access to 'A' grade deals.
At the same time, 'A' grade deals are being overlooked in underserved locations, founding teams, and market sectors, providing an opportunity for higher ROI. We seek high-value deals among founding teams comprising people who do not fit the traditional mold, deals that lie both inside and outside this rubric – funding the software that powers the next big thing, such as AI, IoT and block chain.
We participate in deals with high prospects with teams that have at least one woman in a position of strategic and operational control. This is our first and foremost requirement.
Gender Lens Investing Informs Our Review Process
Second, we use gender lens investing to bring additional, valuable information to the investment decision. Gender lens investing is the deliberate integration of gender analysis into investment analysis and decision making. Such intentional investing is not only about funding women, but about looking at deals with an understanding of gender bias in ideas and processes. When we are aware of our bias, we make better investment decisions.
Our Process: Review | Invest | Advise… and take companies to the next level of funding
Our expertise lies in B2B and B2C tech companies. We will look at other business models, but will invest only if we have advisors willing and capable of bringing the company to an exit or the next stage of capitalization. We may syndicate funding, taking either a lead or follow-on position. When we lead, we take a Board Seat; when we follow, we or the other investors take a Board Seat to represent the interest of the investors.
Let's Reduce the Risk for Next Round Funding
Angels and seed investors put capital into companies without knowing who will fund those companies at the next level and when. To reduce the risk of these early stage investments, we continue to establish and enhance relationships with later stage VCs. There will be companies that VC's want to fund but that are too early for them. The VC's send those companies to us with a list specific benchmarks which need to be reached before they are ready to fund. Likewise, there will be companies we will consider funding and will ask these VC's to provide us with their level of interest in the company and if they are interested, a list of what they'd like to see before funding the company. For each investment, we look for four to six VC's to express interest in each portfolio company to reduce the risk that the company will be unable to raise a next round.
We are seeking corporate and qualified individual investors. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Sybilla Masters' Invention
* While we don't have a picture of the inventor, here is her drawing of the machine she submitted for the patent.