Led by Founding Partner Melissa Withers, Operation Athena is part of RevUp Capital’s enhanced commitment to supporting women-led companies.
What it does: Operation Athena is an explicit effort to find, mentor and ultimately invest in more women-led companies.
How it works: Operation Athena is a work in progress that began in 2016 when we invested in the first company in the RevUp portfolio with a female founder and CEO. It continued in 2017-18 as we refined our selection and diligence process, aware that gender bias manifests in many ways, some visible, some not. Today, the OA program includes the following programmatic elements:
- Dollars earmarked exclusively for women led companies and those where women have ascended into senior roles.
- A dedicated application funnel and priority review process for companies with at least one woman founder.
- For a subset of applicants that do not yet reach our eligibility requirements, but who surely have the potential to do, we offer the Operation Athena Fellowship program, a 6-month mentoring and support program aimed to accelerate their journey to investment readiness.
- Monthly workshops and support sessions that speak to the unique needs of women founders
- Continued advocacy at the local and national level for systemic changes in how women entrepreneurs are mentored, funded and supported throughout their journey
- New in 2020: The Operation Athena Showcase...stories about, from and by women entrepreneurs and investors.
This is a start, but there is still so much important work to be done—especially in addressing racial and other and socio-economic gaps that cannot be overlooked. Stay tuned for future enhancements to this program. We welcome your feedback and suggestions and/or for more information drop a line to OperationAthena@revupfund.com.
The Backstory: A Letter from RevUp Founding Partner Melissa Withers
Many things have changed since I began working as a professional investor in 2012. The conversation about the absence of women in fund leadership was barely a whisper. There were no stats to reflect the wholesale exclusion of women from early stage funding. Startup programming was designed for, run by, and primarily consumed by men.
Today? It’s a changing story. Women are here, and they are here to stay. Yet, there is so much more work to be done. The damage caused by generational, systemic bias runs deep. It is a relentless headwind that never wanes, no matter how much you “lean in.”
Case in point: Less than 3% of dollars invested go to women. The supports for female entrepreneurs are still nascent. Even for me, as a female fund manager, the work to build a pipeline of investable companies is a massive undertaking. If you are a woman color, an immigrant, or happen to be born in a rural place, your entrepreneurial journey is still one of the hardest in the world. We have a long, long way to go.
YET...Despite a severe funding gap and more obstacles than enablers, companies founded and co-founded by women perform better over time—going farther, becoming more profitable, and producing better returns for investors.
The ability to break free from the systemic bias of traditional VC was a major motivator for me when we created and launched RevUp in 2016. While fixing the venture system is vitally important—and there’s amazing people working on that—I ready to see what I could do outside that system. What could I do with a model that wasn’t myopically obsessed with exits and outsized wins. Could we help more women, first time founders, and more entrepreneurs from outside geographies build big businesses? Could I do this while offering investors a competitive return on investment?
Fast forward to today and the answer is a resounding yes.
The women of RevUp set a high bar for entrepreneurial excellence. And they are just the tip of the iceberg for what is to come!
Included in the gallery below is a snapshot of some of the women who have been part of this journey. They are also the inspiration for Operation Athena, RevUp Capital’s enhanced commitment to supporting women-led companies.
If you wish to learn more or get involved, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About RevUp Capital
RevUp Capital is non-equity investment for companies moving fast up a revenue-driven growth curve. We pair cash investment with support from the RevUp Growth Platform, a science-based and battle-tested approach to accelerating growth. Companies also receive active support from RevUp leadership, an experienced team with more than 130 investments under management.