Of the $17.6 billion that angel investors — individual financial backers — doled out to startups last year, only 9.4 percent went to women entrepreneurs. Only 21 percent who sought the money were women.


The bleak numbers from the Center for Venture Research inspired Stephanie Hanbury-Brown to start Golden Seeds, an investment group that funds women-led startups and holds monthly investor forums in New York.


“We need more women entrepreneurs looking for equity. This is how you fund innovation and you grow companies to become big companies,” Hanbury-Brown said.


A handful of firms like hers are making a dent among male-dominated venture capitalists where it’s not uncommon for women pitching their startups to be asked when they’re going to have babies, she said.

“I’m waiting for that question,” said Zinovia Spezakis, a former money manager who’s raising money for her startup, Tonka Beans, which aims to get more women taking ownership of their personal finances.

Many said it’s not uncommon to hear sexist comments while trying to win over investors. “It’s getting better [but] there are leagues to go,” said Caterina Fake, co-founder of photo-sharing site Flickr.

Fake, who is now an angel investor herself, is helping women-led startups.