Utah might not be the first state that comes to mind when we think about women-led businesses, but it’s certainly attracting some attention.
A group of all-female angel investors founded The Artemis Fund after closing their first fund in 2021, and since then, they have moved on to their second funding round. The group is led by three female powerhouses—Diana Murakhovskaya, Stephanie Campbell, and Leslie Goldman Tepper, who come to the fund with years of experience fulfilling both roles as business leaders and family caregivers.
In Greek mythology, Artemis is the protector of women and the goddess of the hunt. The name “The Artemis Fund” seems fitting, given the group’s initial inspiration to target the lack of funding for women-owned businesses. In 2021, just 2 percent of the $300 billion of venture funding went to women-owned businesses, and only 0.34 percent of funding went to Black women-owned businesses.
“People didn’t even think there were enough female founders. But in reality, we see upwards of 2-3000 deals per year that are by women,” Tepper says. “Once we get over that hurdle, people ask, ‘Well, what are they founding? Could they make the same returns?’”
A 2018 study on 350 startups by Mass Challenge and BCG found that women-led businesses produced more than two times per dollar invested in higher revenue than their male counterparts. That’s hugely significant, given the disproportionate funding allocation between the two genders.
According to Tepper, the mission of The Artemis Fund is to democratize access to wealth. “We want to allow the CEO of the family to pursue her work dreams and goals at the same time she takes care of her aging parents or her children,” she says.
The founders of the fund didn’t have it easy when they first started. “One of my partners grew up in Ukraine, where her family lived on breadcrumbs, Tepper says. “She fled the country when she was seven years old. My other partner grew up with a single mom and raised the kids herself. She had 11 jobs by the time she was 22. They had to be very resourceful. They’ve seen struggle firsthand.”
When it comes to what they’re looking for in a company to invest in, Tepper cites very specific things. “We’re looking for companies that fit our mission that are in the sectors that we invest in, which is notably fintech,” she says. “It’s one of the most obvious ways to create financial inclusion. Another is care tech—being able to take care of aging parents. The third is e-commerce tech as it pertains to small businesses to monetize the creator economy, like small businesses that need access to smaller tools to generate revenue and sustain business.”
But not every woman-owned business needs venture funding, Tepper says. “Venture funding is when you want to build a scalable business that would create a billion-dollar business. A lot of women-owned businesses are lifestyle businesses—the bagel shop or the hair salon. Those are critical businesses to our society, but they generally don’t need venture funding. Many small businesses just require bank loans to get started. We’re looking for scalable businesses.”