04 Mar 2019
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The Anti-Shark Tank

Able Partners connects female investors to female entrepreneurs

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Photo by Desiree Rios for New York Times

In 2018, female founders received only 2.2 percent of the $130 billion venture capital pie, according to PitchBook; despite that fact, Lisa Blau (MBA 2003) and Amanda Eilian (MBA 2006) are both veterans of the startup world, having launched VitalJuice (a newsletter about health living) and Videolicious (a platform for making high-end video) respectively.

Despite their success, the pair couldn’t help wondering what it was like to be a female entrepreneur without HBS connections. In 2016 they formed Able Partners to invest in early-stage companies led by women. Their portfolio to date includes 38 companies, with investments starting at $50,000.

“Wingable,” a pitch night cosponsored by Wing (an all-women’s work and community space) and Able Partners brought together 275 entrepreneurs and investors on a cold night in January, as reported by the New York Times, including Gilt Groupe cofounder Alexandra Wilkis Wilson (MBA 2004) and Rent the Runway founder Jennifer Fleiss (MBA 2009).

“We’re calling it the anti-‘Shark Tank’ because everyone is already a winner,” said Blau. “They’re getting funding from Able, and we’re just trying to bring more female investors to their cap table.”

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