Creating a catalyst for change by mobilizing emerging investors for a more diverse investing landscape is exactly what Portfolia is seeking to achieve with its seventh fund, FirstStep. Designed for first-time investors with a tailored “learn-by-investing” experience, members are empowered to be as involved or hands-off as they prefer. The customized experience gives these investors the educational development they need, an engagement component similar to being an Angel investor, and the added protection of diversification in a venture fund.
Similar to Portfolia’s other funds, FirstStep Fund™ seeks investment opportunities in high-growth segments typically ignored by traditional marketplace and investing approaches, like women’s health ($40.6 billion market) and active aging ($100 billion market).
The fund is led by a team of five renowned lead investors who are nationally recognized subject or domain experts, have had at least one exit under their belt, and demonstrate knowledge and expertise in industries of top potential investment opportunities, like B2B software, artificial intelligence, fashion and beauty, food and beverage, and healthcare.
FirstStep Fund™ educational investing focus supports Portfolia’s long-term mission to empower and develop more women investors to back the companies they believe in with their dollars and their role as market makers. Despite women making 70 to 90 percent of consumer decisions, only 2 percent of venture capital money goes to women-led startups. We won’t see parity until we have a more diverse pool of people backing the types of companies, products and teams they want in their marketplace with both dollars and purchasing power. When more emerging investors can invest in breakthrough solutions that have a place in a well-rounded, diverse marketplace that represents all people, we all win.
A learn-by-investing model: how it works
A big reason why there is not more diversity in the investor world comes down to women feeling disempowered by existing financial services which goes hand in hand with a lack of access to information and awareness about ways to invest that align with their values. FirstStep Fund™ aims to dissolve this barrier through a “learn-by-investing” model that provides a sense of community and connection to the companies they back.
Here’s how it works: Members witness first-hand how they should be thinking as a venture investor and how they should be investing in private companies during monthly pitch calls where two companies selected out of Portfolia’s extensive pipeline make a case for their service and/or product. The fund’s experts lead the meetings, but the calls are open to members to ask questions and explore each company’s potential investment opportunities. The 10 startups ultimately selected to be a part of the fund are handpicked by the lead experts and approved by Trish Costello, founder of Portfolia, and the members are part of the process every step of the way including diligence.
FirstStep Fund™ members can also attend monthly “Ask Me Anything” calls which give emerging investors a unique platform to get answers to any question they may have, from “what is IRR?” to “how are exit payments made?” Additional opportunities for development are offered at annual summits, quarterly events and multiple educational deep dives throughout the year on topics from “how to evaluate a company” to “how do you file your taxes with returns?” and an online portal with valuable educational resources.
To invest in the FirstStep Fund™ accredited investors start with a $10,000 minimum investment that is diversified across 10 high-potential companies from seed to growth stage companies across various industries over the course of one year. The fund expects to raise between $2.5-$5 million and will make investments ranging in size from $200K and 500K. The fund, while designed for first-time investors, is inclusive to all accredited investors, and members are accepted in a rolling first-come, first-serve basis until membership reaches 249.