Upcoming Launch NY panel will spotlight role of women in startup investing

Women are making progress in VC but still have limited representation in that industry


Tune in to watch female Upstate New York investors discuss their journey and what needs to change


Buffalo, N.Y. – More women are entering the world of startup investing, creating momentum in a field that has long been mostly men. That is leading to opportunities for female leadership at VC firms and also a greater likelihood of investments in female-led startups.


Women are making big strides in startup investing even though there’s much work still to be done. Pitchbook recently found that the number of women decision-makers at U.S. venture capital firms rose from 12% in 2019 to 16.1% in 2022. In fact, Upstate NY is home to the most active seed fund in the entire state by volume of transactions, and this fund is led by Buffalo-based Launch NY President & CEO, Marnie LaVigne, Ph.D.


An upcoming Launch NY virtual roundtable titled “Women Investing in New York” will explore this issue from a personal and systemic viewpoint, with panelists sharing what it’s like to be a female investor and discussing how to continue driving positive change. The event coincides with Women’s History Month in March.


“I am so pleased to see that women are making strides in driving venture capital funding, but I appreciate that we have far to go, especially since we see that women investors are more likely to fund women-led companies, which garnered only 1.8% of the $170.59 billion in venture capital invested in 2023,” LaVigne said. “This amazing group of panelists has helped blaze the trail for women as startup investors and created room for many to follow in their footsteps. We want to empower the next generation of female investors who support startups that they are passionate about through angel investing or leading venture capital funds ensuring that women founders have the same opportunities as their male counterparts.”


The free webinar will take place from noon to 1 p.m. on March 28. Please register here.


The discussion will feature a dynamic group of angel and institutional investors at the seed and early stages, including:


  • Juliet Lawrence, a member of Gaingels, the Houston Angel Network and Launch NY’s Investor Network.
  • Holly Hubert, CEO of GlobalSecurityIQ, angel investor and member of Launch NY’s Investor Network.
  • Maggie Dorn, venture partner at Motley Fool Ventures.
  • Mary Grove, managing partner at Bread and Butter Ventures.
  • Elise Miller-Out, founder and managing partner at Chloe Capital.
  • Marnie LaVigne, president, CEO and fund manager at Launch NY.


Launch NY has been committed to diversity, equity and inclusion since it was founded in 2012 by LaVigne, and LaVigne joined the limited base of women fund managers in the U.S. with a unique suite of nonprofit and for profit seed funds comprising Launch NY’s InvestLocal Financing Programs, which debuted in 2016.


Launch NY’s Investor Network, which has grown to more than 300 accredited investors who gain access to pre-vetted deals in Upstate New York, is also led by a woman, Katie Hestor.  Launch NY has 91 companies in its portfolio, and 40.7% of them are women-led startups that have received 47.9% of Launch NY’s capital.


On behalf of its diversity efforts to fuel even more women-led businesses, the organization’s Founders Go Big program was created in 2020 with funding from JPMorgan Chase to invest in and support founders from underrepresented backgrounds. This program is also managed by a woman program manager, Crystal Wallace.




About Launch NY: Launch NY is the only nonprofit venture development organization and U.S. Treasury-designated Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that serves and directly funds startups in the 27 westernmost counties of New York state. The core mission of Launch NY is to identify, support and invest in high‐growth, high‐impact companies and to catalyze the entrepreneurial culture of Upstate New York through regional collaboration with ecosystem partners. Since its inception in 2012, Launch NY has served more than 1,500 companies which have gone on to raise more than $1.6 billion, generate over $240 million in annual revenues and support more than 5,000 jobs. Launch NY delivers its mission via mentorship and capital access programs, starting with pro bono mentoring through its Entrepreneur-in-Residence program, Founders Go Big program for underrepresented and underserved founders, and Emerging Cleantech Opportunity (ECO) Incubator. These programs prepare entrepreneurs for investment capital from multiple sources, including Launch NY’s InvestLocal Financing Programs comprised of non-profit and for-profit investment funds, and Investor Network deals marketplace that features hundreds of accredited investors. Through these vehicles, Launch NY is the most active seed investor in New York state and has been ranked among the top 5 nonprofit seed funds in the country.


For more information about Launch NY, its programs, and other entrepreneurial opportunities, visit www.launchny.org, and follow Launch NY on Facebook , Twitter and LinkedIn.