VC Office Hours: How this venture thesis aims to improve tech for women

Naseem Sayani launched Emmeline Ventures in January 2022 with two missions: to help back more women founders and to hire more women and people of color as decision-making fund managers. She is part of an increasing number of women and people of color whose mission is to change the dire state of funding for marginalized groups.

Before starting Emmeline, Sayani spent more than 20 years in leadership positions at consulting companies and incubators, working as an angel investor on the side, and she wanted to do something to improve diversity in the startup ecosystem. “I knew I was enabling the same people to get rich, instead of expanding the opportunity to build business and generate wealth to more people that looked like me,” she told TechCrunch+.

Her fund invests in women founders building businesses that help other women manage their health, wealth and environment. So far, Emmeline has 19 portfolio companies, including Clutch Wallet, Deux Foods, She Matters and Alloy.

Emmeline’s investment thesis comes at a pivotal time for women’s innovation: Funding for companies focused on women’s health has remained strong, especially following the overturn of Roe v. Wade — women’s health companies raised $1.15 billion in 2022, a slight dip from the $1.26 billion they raised in 2021 but much higher than the $466 million picked up in 2020.

I caught up with Sayani to talk about her investment thesis, the future of fintech and what’s next.

(Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.)

Nearly everyone is dismayed with the U.S. healthcare system and would love alternatives. As you increase your focus on health companies, is it better to invest in companies that are working inside the U.S. healthcare system or outside?

We need companies we invest in to be doing both.

Healthcare’s existing infrastructure does not move fast enough for rich innovation and is riddled with biases that need rewriting and undoing. But these systems are still the core of how health benefits are delivered and funded for a vast majority of the population. New startups are better served launching outside the current system so that they can create new datasets, activate new modes of delivery, and target new use cases more quickly and with more precision.

And they need to build wiring into existing healthcare systems to drive provider adoption, ensure coverage, integrate new data and insights, and ultimately influence new and emerging care protocols. The worst scenario for healthcare is a dual system, one grounded in old solutions and one grounded in new solutions. Integration is critical for growth and scale.

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