Fuel Ventures, a London-based fund has kick-started a campaign to improve investment equality between male and female founders.

Currently, just 4% of more than 4,000 pitch decks and enquiries for investment received by the fund over the last four years have been from companies with female founders and just 13% with female founding members. The London-based VC firm surveyed the female founders from its decks on why they haven’t sought investment previously, more than half said they feared they wouldn’t be taken seriously.

More than four fifths (85%) of the female founders answered yes, they had been deterred from seeking investment before and more than half (52%) answered they feared they wouldn’t be taken seriously as the main reason. A fifth (21%) said a lack of knowledge, 19% cited a lack of self-belief and just less than a tenth (8%) answered a lack of time.

Fuel Ventures has kick-started a campaign to increase the number of applications for investment from female founders, after discovering only 4% of 4,216 pitch decks were from female founders.

It wants to hear from startup companies with female founders and founding members in a bid to redress the gender imbalance in the industry. The fund will be hosting an event on Wednesday 16th January, where female founders can pitch their business and network with other entrepreneurs.

At present, Fuel Ventures is investing at the rate of one company a month, setting aside up to £2m per portfolio company.

Mark Pearson, Fuel Ventures founder, said: “To find out that most female founders fear they won’t be taken seriously is very disheartening, and I can only blame society for that because research shows that portfolio companies with female founders outperform companies with all-male founders by 63%, and venture-backed, women-led tech firms bring in 12% higher revenue than male-owned tech firms. Why wouldn’t we want to invest in female-led startups?

“My question to female founders is – where are you? With the most recent raise of our third fund we have £20m ready to invest in early stage startups, the only criteria being that we invest in companies we believe have the potential to return 100x – something that is not gender specific. We are, and always have been, a fund by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, and that’s important to us.

“By inviting female entrepreneurs to an event at our London offices in late January 2019, I’m hoping we attract the best talent in the industry and start important conversations that move to close the inequality gap. I honestly do think it’ll take 20 years or more the way things are going, taking us to 2040. That’s not soon enough, so whatever barriers might hold women back in this industry, we need to attack them.”

Interested founders can sign-up for the event on Fuel’s website: https://www.fuel.ventures/female-founders