Happy Pride Month! 🏳️🌈
To celebrate, we’re highlighting 13 LGBTQ+ investors making a positive impact in the venture ecosystem. From rising stars to seasoned investors, these investors are making a big impact and show the strength and importance of the LGBTQ+ community in our industry. Advancing intersectional diversity within VC to maximize impact and returns is core to Venture Forward’s mission, and we applaud these 13 investors for their accomplishments and cheer for their continued success!
A special thank you to our partners at StartOut for their invaluable input on this list, their continued support of Venture Forward, and all the work they do to support and empower LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs throughout the year.
Join us on July 28: Venture Forward, StartOut, and SVB (Venture Forward’s founding anchor donor) are partnering to host an Investor Mixer from 5:30 – 7:30 pm on July 28 in San Francisco. We invite emerging and experienced VC investors to join us to connect and discuss how to build a more inclusive ecosystem, especially towards LGBTQ+ founders and funders. RSVP here!
Head of Global Platforms, 500 Global
San Francisco, CA
Aaron is Head of Global Platforms at 500 Global, a VC firm with more than $2.7 billion in assets under management that invests early in founders building fast-growing technology companies. He is responsible for designing, deploying, and maintaining its global data infrastructure. Before joining 500, Aaron was the cofounder & COO of Roost, President & COO of WebJuice, and Chief Marketing Officer at Empirical Marketing. Learn more about Aaron and his work at 500 in this Q&A.
Founder & Managing Partner, 1863 Ventures
Melissa founded 1863 Ventures in 2016 with a mission to accelerate black and brown entrepreneurs from high potential to high growth, through rigorous leadership training and strategic market access. She has more than 20 years of entrepreneurship, investment, and leadership experience. She is an Adjunct Professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, where she teaches impact investing, social entrepreneurship, P2P economies, and innovation. Melissa has served as a Presidential Appointee under Presidents Clinton and Obama. Under Clinton, Melissa served as Financial Regulatory Affairs Fellow at the Department of Treasury, Office of Thrift Supervision. Read more about Melissa’s 5 key learning for entrepreneurs and how 1863 Ventures helped 92.5% of their portfolio companies survive during the pandemic.
Managing General Partner, Xfund
Palo Alto, CA
In 2015, Patrick spun out Xfund—the early-stage VC firm built to back entrepreneurs who think laterally and experiment across disciplines—from venture heavyweights Accel, Breyer Capital, and NEA, in partnership with Harvard University. Patrick had led NEA’s consumer and seed investment practices and sourced and led investments in 23andMe, Plaid, Segment, and Kensho. Notably, 33 percent of Xfund’s capital is invested in companies with women founders or CEOs, and 72% is invested in companies with immigrant or minority founders. Patrick currently serves on the boards of 23andMe (NASDAQ: ME) and Philo.
Founder, Flucas Ventures
West Palm Beach, FL
Ashley began venture investing about four years ago and has participated in 250+ deals, including Pipe, Bolt, MainStreet, Xos Trucks, Vicarious Surgical, TruePill, Mercury, and Chipper Cash. Her syndicated deals include Databricks, Brex, Binance.US, AngelList, and Pacaso. Ashley is a Venture Partner at Fin Capital, a Venture Partner at Gaingels, and an Advisor to the Capital Table Coalition. Ashley also serves as General Counsel of a large commercial real estate finance fund. Learn more about what motivated Ashley to become a VC investor and why she views syndicates, platforms, and digital networks as reshaping angel investing.
Investor, SVB Capital
San Francisco, CA
Dave Mullen is an investor at SVB Capital where he covers FinTech and ClimateTech for the platform’s direct investing strategy. Previously, Dave was an investor at Wells Fargo Strategic Capital, the venture capital arm of Wells Fargo where he focused on venture growth investments in the technology sector. Dave started his career with J.P. Morgan in the Leveraged Finance division of the Investment Bank where he was responsible for raising capital for both sponsor buyout and M&A transactions. Dave currently serves on the Programming Board and as a Mentor at StartOut, and is the PropTech Vertical Lead at EVCA. Read about Dave’s perspectives on Fintech and ClimateTech on TechCrunch or peruse his published research on Medium.
CEO, Pride Fund
Densil leads Pride Fund, a $10 million VC fund launched by Loud Capital in 2020. The fund provides resources and capital to venture ready businesses with a focus on LGBTQ+ ventures and founders/entrepreneurs at the pre-seed, seed, and Series A stages. He is also the Executive Director of Stonewall Columbus, Central Ohio’s LGBTQ+ community organization and center. Densil shared the stage with Arlan Hamilton (another LGBTQ+ investor we recently featured), at SXSW 2022 to discuss community, venture, and identity. Read more in Densil’s op-ed in the Columbus Dispatch about the why uplifting various identities in the community matters.
Founding Partner, Chasing Rainbows
San Francisco, CA
In November 2021, Ben launched Chasing Rainbows, structured as a rolling fund that invests in “pre-seed technology and technology adjacent companies led by underrepresented LGBTQ+ founders that exhibit determination, grit, and resilience and have an idea or MVP with a supported plan for growth.” The portfolio includes companies like Tomtex, LegalKarma, Yaza, and SoundMind. In 2020, Ben was asked to address the UN General Assembly to talk to the top 200 CEOs globally about Purpose (read his speech here). Prior to founding Chasing Rainbows, Ben was the Founder and CEO of social networking platform SocialTable. Ben is the co-chair of Programming Board at StartOut. Venture Forward fun fact: Ben is a VC University ONLINE Cohort 8 alum!
General Partner, CapitalG
San Francisco, CA
Laela has 10 unicorn investments under her belt at CapitalG, Alphabet’s independent growth fund. Her investments include Stripe, Duolingo (Nasdaq: DUOL), Gusto, UiPath (NYSE: PATH), Unqork, Curated, and Webflow. Last year, CapitalG founder and general partner David Lawee described Laela as “the best-kept secret right now.” She joined CapitalG shortly after its inception in 2013 from Google, where she was managing director of emerging businesses. Laela was featured on Fast Company’s Queer 50 2021 list of LGBTQ women and nonbinary innovators in business and tech. Learn more about Laela’s background and VC career in this fireside chat, and her thoughts on the no-code and low-code landscape.
Co-founder & Managing Partner, SoGal Ventures
Vancouver, British Columbia
In 2017, Pocket launched SoGal Ventures with cofounder Elizabeth Galbut as a next-gen, early-stage VC firm backing world-class diverse entrepreneurs outside of Silicon Valley. The firm has seeded multiple unicorns and delivers superior, consistent financial returns by investing in underestimated founders, undercapitalized geographies, and underserved problems. Pocket and her co-GP Elizabeth Galbut have invested in 150+ startups in the US, Asia Pacific, Europe, and Africa, of which 15 companies are valued at $150M+. In 2018, Pocket also created SoGal Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit operating a global platform for diverse entrepreneurs and investors with 50 chapters across 6 continents. Pocket was featured on PitchBook’s 2022 list of Female Founders and Investors to Know. Read more about her VC journey and the SoGal platform in this Q&A interview.
General Partner, Gaingels
New York, NY
Lorenzo is a Managing Director at Gaingels, an LGBTQIA+/Allies venture investment syndicate counting more than 2,000 individual investing members dedicated to making the venture ecosystem more diverse, representative and accessible. He is also a Tony-award winning Broadway producer (Hadestown, The Inheritance) and the co-creator and producer of the George Takei Broadway musical Allegiance, of which he also directed and produced the 2016 film. He is the co-founder and President of The Social Edge, and previously co-founded two other companies: Powerset (exited to Microsoft in 2008) and Artify. Lorenzo is the co-founder and board chair emeritus of StartOut. In 2019, Business Insider included Lorenzo on their list of most powerful LGBTQ+ people in tech.
VC University Fellow, SVB
New York, NY
Tiana is the inaugural fellow in the SVB VC University Fellowship program, created to support VC University scholarship alumni by providing participants with deeper and extended exposure and knowledge into the VC ecosystem. Tiana has also been a BLCK VC Venture Scout Fellow, Venture Capital Fellow at Vencapital, and part of the Sequoia Capital Scout Program. Previously, Tiana was a management consultant for Accenture.
Founder & Managing Partner, Cake Ventures
San Francisco, CA
In 2018, Monique started Cake Ventures, a seed-stage firm investing in demographic change. Her “three-layer” investment thesis is driven by the shifting populations of three demographic groups: women, people of color, and aging Baby Boomers. She further explores the latter in her report “Grey New World.” Before starting her own fund, Monique was a venture partner at 500 Global and an investment scout for Lightspeed Venture Partners. She is also an instructor and advisor for the Material Change Institute. Learn more about Monique’s investing career, her decision to start a fund, and the demographic shifts of online users in a recent Carta podcast episode and this All Raise Q&A.
Co-Founder & General Partner, Revel Partners
New York, NY
In 2011, Chris founded Revel Partners, a VC firm investing in B2B SaaS and marketplaces where the pressure to innovate translates into great companies. The firm focuses on seed to Series A stage investments in the U.S. and Western Europe. Chris currently serves on the board of directors of Zype and MarketMuse and is a board observer at Lockstep and Kite. He also serves as Board Chair at StartOut. Prior to founding Revel Partners, Chris founded and exited two companies in the digital video advertising space: Digital Broadcasting Group and Klipmart.