Kalaari Capital launches CXXO for women founders; sets aside $10M to invest in female founded-startups

With CXXO, Kalaari Capital hopes to create a women-only community that supports other women founder-CEOs over the course of their startup journeys.
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Vani Kola-founded VC firm Kalaari Capital on Wednesday launched CXXO, an initiative that promotes and supports female founder-CEO-led startups in India by providing them unbiased access to capital, mentorship, and a community of other women founders and entrepreneurs.

Kalaari has earmarked $10 million to support between eight to 10 digital startups, where women are the key decision-makers and ideally CEOs, the VC firm announced in a press conference.

The cohort of these female founder-CEOs will be supported by successful women entrepreneurs in the industry, including Vani, along with the likes of Ankiti Bose (CEO and Co-founder, Zilingo), Priyanka Gill (Founder and CEO, POPxo and Co-founder and President, MyGlamm), Paroma Roy Chowdhury (Chief Communications and Public Affairs Officer, Dream Sports), Lathika Pai (Country Head of Microsoft, Venture Capital and PE partnerships), and Shradha Sharma (Founder and CEO, YourStory).

Industry leaders such as CNBC-TV18 Managing Editor Shereen Bhan, Managing Director of Silicon Valley Bank Priya Rajan, Gazal Kalra — Co-founder of Rivigo, and Sindhu Gangadharan — the first woman to lead SAP Labs India — among many others, will also be involved in the investment committee and provide mentorship to the cohort.

With CXXO, Kalaari hopes to drive inclusive growth in India and propel the investing and startup community towards considering women-led companies on a level playing field, devoid of any biases stemming from the founder's gender.

"We want to enable more women to participate in India’s digital future. It’s necessary for our startup ecosystem to have more women so that there is inclusive growth. Supporting companies that have a woman in key decision-making roles is also important to bring about a cultural shift in the ecosystem at large, and our hope is that this change ripples out to the rest of the industry too," Vani said during the press conference.

"More than anything, with the $10 million fund, we want women to get their due consideration. As founders, all women want is due consideration, not favours," she added.

By creating a community of women who help each other, lift each other, and lean on each other, Kalaari says it wants to make the lives of women entrepreneurs easier.

As part of its CXXO initiative, it will focus on three key areas, including capital — where it has already pockmarked $10 million annually to fund 8-10 women entrepreneurs; community — a network that founders can tap to develop their ideas and grow their business; and coaching — where CXXO will match each entrepreneur with a champion to play the role of a trusted advisor.

Interested startups can apply to pitch to the CXXO panel via its website, which is now live, the VC firm added.

With only one of the 53 unicorns in India led by a woman, and only 1.4 percent of the total capital raised between 2018 and 2020 going to female-founded startups, CXXO is poised to be a game-changer and a necessary thought leader in the space.

Edited by Suman Singh