AOL venture-capital fund eyes Israeli companies

Fund president calls Tel Aviv "awesome city for technology."

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March 21, 2015 21:58
1 minute read.
AOL logo.

AOL logo.. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

 
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The head of AOL’s New Yorkbased BBG Ventures, a venture- capital fund focused on women’s start-ups, recently met with several start-ups in Israel with a possible eye on investment.

Susan Lynne, the fund’s president, met with six women-led start-ups, through Nautilus, which is the local scouting arm of AOL.

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“This is an awesome city for technology, and if I’m going to get smarter about what’s happening in this world, the best route is through Nautilus,” Lynne said about Tel Aviv on her visit.

Lynne, who used to lead content for brands such as TechCrunch, Engadget, StyleList, Moviefone and MapQuest, decided to start BBG when she realized how few companies headed by women were getting venture funding.

Only 7 percent of venture-capital investment goes to women, and 4% of venture partners are women, she said.

For the savvy Lynne, who was CEO and chairman of the Gilt Group between 2008-2013, that represented an opportunity.

“There are lots of women entrepreneurs,” she said. “I don’t think there’s a problem that there are not enough women starting companies. That’s why we launched this fund – not just because we wanted to do something good, although that’s nice, but we saw it as a real business opportunity.”

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The nine companies the group has invested in so far are all US-based, but the possibility of branching out to Israel is not outside their scope, Lynne said.

“There were a broad range of business models and arenas, and all of them [are] led by smart really interesting women,” she said of the startups she encountered in Tel Aviv. The fund invests between $100,000 and $250,000 in seed money.

BBG, which stands for Built By Girls, is one of a handful of new funds focusing their attention on women, such as Cowboy Ventures and Broadway Angels.

“You’re starting to see more activity and certainly more conversation, and that’s the first step,” Lynne said. “If we return strong results, then you’re going to see a lot more people investing in women entrepreneurs.”

For Lynne, the cooperation with Nautilus seemed a natural fit. It is headed by two women.

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