F7 Ventures: Helping Underrepresented Founders in the Startup World

Three years ago, seven female leaders from Facebook created F7 Ventures, a seed investment fund to support other underrepresented leaders in the tech industry. Since then, they funded a number of startup seed rounds to help these founders at the earliest stages of their companies, and they’ve also taken charge in the normally male-dominated world of Silicon Valley.

The Story Behind F7 Ventures

In 2018, Kelly Graziadei, a former Facebook sales and marketing executive, joined Foundation Capital as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence; the stint ultimately inspired her to start her own investment firm after learning of the low percentage of venture dollars invested annually by women-managed funds—at the time, it was 1.5 percent.

She joined forces with six other former Facebook and current executives to build F7 Ventures; Joanna Lee Shevelenko, one of Facebook’s first 100 employees and team leads; Yvette Lui, who led partnership and sales teams at both Facebook and Google; Kirthiga Reddy, a former operations lead for Facebook India and is a current investment partner at SoftBank; Robyn Reiss, who built and managed technical and non-technical teams at Google, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and Facebook; Sarah Smith, a sales and operations lead at Facebook and current partner at Bain Capital Ventures; and their seventh, anonymous member, who chooses to keep her identity secret while she still works at Facebook.

While the firm began due to the realization of the gender gap in fundraising, F7 has expanded its mission to include not only women, but underrepresented founders all around. When it comes to looking for respective founders and companies, Graziadei said that they look for “a unique superpower” when doing so; they look for founders with a drive for the hustle—those who managed to promote their companies with little help at the beginning.

Additionally, the F7 team believed that their earned experiences throughout their careers could help drive more diversity in the investment and start-up worlds.

“We felt that bringing our operating experience to bear on the earliest stages of a startup’s life could really change companies’ trajectories for the better,” Shevelenko said in a blog post.

Examples of Companies Funded by F7

In the last two years, F7 Ventures has helped fund a number of companies. During its first fund, known as Fund 0, the firm invested in 19 companies, with 70 percent of those having underrepresented founders.

Such companies include Codi, the first company to create daytime workspaces in private homes, allowing people to walk to work in their own neighborhoods, Poppy, the world’s first commercially available pathogen sensing and detection network, WorkWhile, an hourly labor technology platform that matches workers to shifts that fit their skills, schedule, and location, and Lantern, a modern-day platform that provides step-by-step guidance for navigating life before and after a death.

With COVID-19 ongoing for the last year now, the founders of F7 saw no time to slow down on the work they were putting in; even while meeting virtually, they continued to work as a team to identify and provide support to these founders and help them grow significantly.

In an interview with Gentry Magazine, Reiss said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has made it even more clear that the game changers of tomorrow are building companies completely differently from how they’ve been built in the past … We know not all of the companies we invest in will be successful, but we believe that we’re building a community of founders who are leaders of the highest caliber with the superpowers mentioned herein.”

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Lexi Jones is an award-winning journalist and Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Las Vegas, she covers startup brands in entertainment, internet and LGBTQ+ startup news. She is also an editor of Grit Daily's "Top 100" entrepreneur lists.

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