Historically, venture capital has favored the status quo over women, people of color, and LGBTQ. In fact, LA-based venture capital (VC) firm Backstage Capital estimates that LGBTQ+ founders still receive a truly unimpressive amount, less than 1% of VC funding. The situation is not much better in terms of diversity amongst venture capitalists: white men make up 76% of VC partners. Even though across-the-board industries have called for visibility and diversity, equality has been slow to promote trailblazers in the industry.
The percentage of US adults who identify as LGBTQ+ has doubled in the last decade—from 3.5% in 2012 to 7.1% in 2022. A Gallup study predicts the possibility that that percentage will surpass 10% in the near future. However, StartOut, a startup accelerator that offers opportunities for queer-founded startups, found that 37% of LGBTQ founders choose to remain closeted while seeking funding.
Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer entrepreneurs find it more difficult than their heterosexual counterparts because some investors aren’t the right choice for LGBTQ+ founders. At Runway, we are committed to championing these businesses and continuing to promote diversity in the startup space.
In honor of the incredible Pride month we’ve had, we’ve compiled a list of top VC funds that seek to help people that identify as LGBTQ+ find the right fit for funding your startup.
1. Backstage Capital
What they do: Backstage Capital has made a commitment to back underrepresented founders. The firm has invested more than US$4M+ in over 80 companies led by underrepresented founders. In fact, 72% are people of color; 62% are women; 44% are women of color, and 12% openly identify as LGBTQ. The firm has invested more than US$4M+ in over 80 companies led by underrepresented founders.
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Founder: Arlan Hamilton
2. LGBT Funders
What they do: According to their website “Funders for LGBTQ Issues works to increase the scale and impact of philanthropic resources aimed at enhancing the well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities, promoting equity, and advancing racial, economic, and gender justice.” They are working diligently to increase visibility and equality for the community.
Location: New York, NY
3. 500 Startups LGBTQ+
What they do: They announced “We <3 Fabulous Founders”, which encourages people in the LGBTQ+ community to participate in new innovations. Founders and will invest $1M total in 10 LGBTQ+ startups. Backers of the 500 LGBT syndicate will invest additional capital in these companies on an ongoing basis. They already have some amazing LGBTQ+ companies in their portfolio, like Dattch, Hornet, and Whim.
4. LGBT Capital
What they do: Established in 2010, LGBT Capital’s portfolio is guided by a primary focus on sound business opportunities while actively supporting the advancement of LGBT Equality and Rights. With a strong emphasis on equality and inclusion, they pioneered the development of an LGBT Diversity Investment Index. They are committed to encouraging the development of ethical LGBTQ+ businesses and supporting quality consumer businesses worldwide.
Location: England and Wales
5. Unconventional Ventures
What they do: Nordic early-stage investment firm Unconventional Ventures invests in scalable tech startups at the pre-seed and seed stage founded by LGBTQ+, POC, women, and immigrants. They believe that underrepresented founders build companies solving unique problems often underestimated or overlooked globally.
Location: Copenhagen, DK
6. Kindred Ventures
What they do: Kindred Ventures has a diverse portfolio of founders that tackle problems cross-industries and around the world. According to their website, their combined teams and operations now cover every region on the planet: North America, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, and Africa, and provide opportunities to marginalized communities.
Location: San Fransisco, CA
What they do: Gaingels has a unique offering of venture-stage investment opportunities with companies with at least one LGBTQ+ founder, senior C-level executive, or board member around the world. They also have their own scholarship and mentoring program to further promote growth and investment in different communities.
Location: New York, NY
8. Intel Capital Diversity Fund
What they do: Intel-owned venture capital firm Intel Capital has expanded its focus to include founders from the LGBTQ community, military veterans, and founders living with disabilities. The diversity fund was established in 2015 as a means to promote equal access to resources and capital for startups, with $125 million promised over a five-year period.
Location: Santa Clara, CA
If you are part of the LGBTQ+ community your entrepreneurial goals matter and these investors and organizations can help you forge a road ahead and find funding.
Remember that there is no failure, only feedback. Even when things seem most frustrating, keep in mind that there are groups that are pushing for diversity and who support people of color and LGBTQ.
Suggest an addition
To suggest an LGBTQ+ investor for a future update to this list, please email [email protected]
About Runway Innovation Hub
Runway is a Silicon Valley-based innovation company accelerating the success of global innovators and entrepreneurs. We help corporations through results-focused innovation consulting and power the growth of startups through acceleration programs, mentorship and coworking services. Since 2013, we have has accelerated the innovation efforts of 40+ global companies like Fujitsu, Lenovo and IBM through customized innovation strategy services. Learn more about how we can help you do the same here.