Last month, Californian baby food startup Yumi announced a $ 67 million Series B funding round, led by San Francisco-based biotech fund Jazz Ventures Partners, AF Ventures and co-founder and CEO of 23andme Anne Wojcicki. It brings the company’s total funding to $ 79 million and adds more brand-name investors to a fold that already included founders of Warby Parker, Harry’s, Sweetgreen and Uber, as well as celebrities like Snoop Dogg and Gabrielle Union.
But this new funding also represents something else for Yumi co-founders Angela Sutherland and Evelyn Rusli: it’s an opportunity to incorporate their ideals as founding women into the company’s gaming table. This funding round includes a women-led Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), which includes approximately 70 new female investors and women-led businesses. Sarah Marie Martin, Yumi’s chief financial officer, says the SPV is about creating more options for women. Knowing that women continue to earn 84% of what men earn, according to an analysis from the Pew Research Center, Yumi aims to level the playing field by using SPV as an opportunity for women to invest in company with a 20% discount.
“Having more female investors is wonderful for us because it expands our network and the goal is to get more women involved in venture capital,” says Martin, a 25-year Wall Street veteran and former Goldman Sachs executive who joined. by Yumi last May. “Get more seats at the table for better investment opportunities, to get more women-funded businesses funded by women. It’s not just about money: it’s about getting to know each other, having access to each other, giving each other advice and learning from each other. With a company like ours, we have the opportunity to be powerful in this sense and really exploit it. “
The SPV is led by Desiree Gruber, founder and CEO of the Full Picture creative agency and co-founder of DGNL Ventures. Gruber says the SPV is made up of a mix of novice and experienced investors. “Closing the gender equity gap has long been overdue, so it’s inspiring to see a company level the playing field and flip the limits table with a powerful group of female investors,” says Gruber. “SPV Yumi is a highly actionable case study for other companies that want to equalize their capitalization tables but don’t have deep networks of qualified female investors. This SPV shows that there are tools and communities out there for people who want to see change in this industry. “
Investor Yumi Anjula Acharia, who previously backed Bumble and ClassPass, says a company’s cap table should also reflect its leadership and customer base. “Many of these companies that really cater to women or have a huge female user base, be it Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, all have very few women at the cap table or women around the board table. “, says Ancharia. “From my point of view, when you’re trying to solve a problem, or you’re selling a product primarily aimed at women, it’s really important to have women around the table.”
Founded in 2017, Yumi has quickly established itself as a leader in pioneering and promoting higher standards in the baby and toddler food market, with a wide range of organic options, all with no added sugar or preservatives. In the past 12 months, Yumi has reportedly served 2% of all children born in America, and even more in some markets (in San Francisco it’s 10%). Initially making a name for itself with innovative recipes and ingredients for children of all ages, Yumi has since expanded into curated product collections such as her Chef series, created in collaboration with Michelin-starred chefs and James Beard award winners, and has expanded its products to include a line of vitamins. This new investment will be used to continue the expansion of its product line.
Martin says he hopes Yumi isn’t the only company using an SPV as a tool to build greater gender equity among startup investors. “I hope Desiree and others create women-centric SPVs for more companies that are owned or have a majority customer base for women,” says Martin. “It is a great opportunity to improve ourselves and help solve our problems as women. I’m so excited because I don’t want this to be just us.