Elizabeth Edwards, Courtney Christianson and Fiona Frick help their firms raise new funds

From our Women's PE Briefs - week commencing July 5, 2021

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H Venture Partners closes its debut fund

H Venture Partners, a consumer-focused venture firm whose founder and managing partner is Elizabeth Edwards, closes its debut fund, with Elizabeth telling Women’s PE Briefs that doing so makes her “feel like a gold medalist after years of training.” The Cincinnati firm raised $10 million from a group of 90 investors – the majority of whom are consumer and retail industry veterans and half of whom are women. Elizabeth said the firm launched and held a first close in January 2020. But with the firm’s first capital call due as the pandemic began bringing the country to a halt in March, Elizabeth heard from many of her LPs who thought it should just shut down. Elizabeth, though, disagreed, pointing out that the firm invested in consumer essentials that are sold to essential retailers. “I felt that our strategy would fare pretty well through the pandemic – and that turned out to be the case.” The firm’s portfolio, she said, “performed admirably considering all of the turmoil that 2020 brought.”

To raise the fund, Elizabeth turned to former executives at such companies as Target, P&G, Coca-Cola, Tyson, Estee Lauder, Clorox and Revlon. Among those investors was Kathy Waller, former executive vice president and chief financial officer of Coca-Cola and current board director of Delta Airlines and Beyond Meat. “Closing this fund with the amazing 90 investors we have – all experts in consumer – feels like an incredible accomplishment and I am filled with gratitude for the people that took a chance on us and leaned in early,” said Elizabeth. “There have been so many headwinds in starting this firm and growing it to where we are today. I feel like a gold medalist after years of training. It feels great to talk not just about what we are going to do, but what we’ve done.”

H Ventures is focused on addressing what Elizabeth calls the “Trillion Dollar Blindspot,” resulting from the fact that 85 percent of consumer purchases are done by women, but 93 percent of venture capital is managed by white men and that consumer purchases represent 69 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, but account for only 3 percent of venture investments. The firm’s answer is to invest in purpose-driven, science-based consumer brands led by experienced and diverse teams.

H Ventures has to date used the fund to invest in 10 companies, with Elizabeth anticipating that it will do five more. H Ventures, she said, has term sheets out for three of those deals. The firm’s investments include Kindra, a modern wellness brand for menopause essentials led by Catherine Balsam-Schwaber; Better Booch, a kombucha maker co-founded by Ashleigh Lockerbie; The Uplifters’ Prima, PBC, a hemp-based holistic wellness brand co-founded by Jessica Assaf and Laurel Angelica Myers; Avaline, a clean, organic wine brand co-founded by Katherine Power and actress Cameron Diaz; and Felix, a direct-to-consumer digital health care company co-founded by Emma Stern. “We’re feeling great about the deal flow we are seeing now – all science-based consumer brands that have disruptive technologies, a lot of IP, and will make a huge impact on human health and the environment.”

Elizabeth founded H Ventures after stints with MAYWIC Select Investments and West Capital Advisors, LLC. Her investments prior to H Ventures included Freshly, which was acquired by Nestle for $1.5 billion, Peloton, Roots and Bill.com, all of which are now publicly traded.

Courtney Christianson helps KSL Capital Partners raise a $753M travel and leisure focused credit fund

KSL Capital Partners, whose head of investor relations is Courtney Christianson, raises its third travel and leisure focused credit fund. The Denver firm closed on $753 million, exceeding its initial target of $675 million. The fund targets dollar denominated performing credit in travel and leisure businesses in North America and the Caribbean. Since its founding in 2005, KSL has raised approximately $15 billion in equity and debt commitments. Courtney joined KSL in 2019 after being an operating partner at 3L Capital and holding similar roles at Alpha Edison and Social Capital.

Fiona Frick-led Unigestion closes its second direct private equity fund

Unigestion, whose group CEO is Fiona Frick, closes its second direct private equity fund. The Swiss asset manager raised more than 600 million euros. The fund provides investors with access to a portfolio of direct investments in high quality, small and mid-market companies. Unigestion said it already has deployed 40 percent of the fund in a dozen companies across Europe and the United States. The firm’s global private equity team is comprised of 50 professionals. Fiona is a past speaker at the Women’s Alternative Investment Summit.

Michelle Kennedy’s Peanut launches a micro fund to invest in women

A women’s social network led by Michelle Kennedy, which has an investment committee that includes Anu Duggal, Bérénice Magistretti, Vanessa Kingori, Shilpa Yarlagadda and Elizabeth Uviebinene, launches a micro fund to invest in women. According to TechCrunch, Peanut launched StartHER to invest in pre-seed stage women-led start-ups.

StartHER is looking to offer small investments to early-stage, pre-seed businesses focused on making a positive impact on society, health care or the environment. In a statement, Michelle said, “Peanut’s StartHER fund opens the door to founders looking for that early funding. It’s our opportunity to finally level the playing field. We want to be the family these founders can turn to, opening the door to our professional networks too.”

Renata Quintini and Roseanne Wincek’s Renegade Partners closes its debut fund

Renegade Partners, which was co-founded by Renata Quintini and Roseanne Wincek, has closed its debut fund. The venture firm raised $100 million, according to TechCrunch. Renata and Roseanne formed Renegade in 2019.

Renata had been a partner at Lux Capital while Roseanne was a partner at IVP. Renegade’s team includes principal Chloe Breider, who also used to be at IVP, and chief people officer Susan Alban.

Renegade’s investments include RippleMatch, an early career recruiting platform, and Spekit, a digital adoption and enablement platform founded by Melanie Fellay and Zari Zahra.

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