Welcome to our Member Spotlight series where we give a profile overview of our many diverse members. For this deep dive, we spoke to Andrea Turner Moffitt and Deborah Jackson, co-founders of Plum Alley Investments, to learn more about their firm.
Tell us about your firm. What makes it different?
Plum Alley’s differentiator is our relentless focus on emerging technologies and medical breakthroughs that are creating exponential value for humanity, the planet, markets and the economy. We unlock value by identifying pioneering women founders from the STEM fields leading high growth technology and healthcare companies. Our fundamental view is that the convergence of technologies is disrupting industries and creating new opportunities at an accelerating pace which will drive outsized returns for investors. Since 2015, Plum Alley has been investing in world-class founding teams, all of which have at least one woman technologist or woman scientist. The credentials of our founders are credentials.
Plum Alley’s founding partners and investment leadership team, including Andrea Turner Moffitt, Deborah Jackson and Avantika Daing, bring a unique combination of investing acumen, operating experience and sector knowledge with 60+ years of collective experience in capital raising, early stage investing, technology and healthcare. With our breadth of experience, we are seen as trusted advisors by our founders on everything from capital raising and talent recruiting to making key introductions to potential customers or partners.
Beyond Plum Alley’s investment team, we have built a tremendously diverse community of investors who bring expertise and deep networks across industries and geographies as we support our founders to help them grow and scale their businesses. We also bring an important dimension of diversity to the cap table for founders. We are not just women GPs ourselves, our broader base of investors represents nearly 70% women, many of whom are operators, executives, and board members of global organizations.
Where did your firm’s name come from?
Our name “Plum Alley” represents two important attributes of our firm culture and heritage. First, “plum” is in honor of our laser focus to invest in the best, most desirable opportunities. And, “alley” is a nod to New York’s Silicon Alley. Our headquarters are in the Flatiron area of New York City which in the 1990s became known as Silicon Alley, the East Coast counter weight to Silicon Valley.
What defines your portfolio?
Over the last five years, Plum Alley has invested $32 million across 23 companies. We have led with our focus on investing in emerging technologies and medical breakthroughs driving positive outcomes for the planet, health, upward mobility and the next generation of infrastructure and enterprise. We predominantly invest at the Series A stage while reserving some capital for Series B stage investments. All of our portfolio investments have at least one woman founder from the STEM fields. With our focus on the convergence of technologies, many of our companies employ multi-modal technologies to deliver greater value to the customers and the markets they are serving. We have invested across environmental intelligence, alternative protein, electric and autonomous freight trucking, cashless checkout, education technology, mental health, precision medicine and predictive diagnostics, among other areas. Some of the emerging areas of technology that we have invested in include sensors, new data collection, artificial intelligence and machine learning, robotics, advanced manufacturing, CRISPR discoveries and regenerative medicine.
A few notable investments include Air Protein, Aclima, AiFi, Bitwise Industries, Diligent Robotics, Einride, Mammoth Biosciences, among many others. We are proud to highlight that one of our portfolio founders Dr. Jennifer Doudna (Mammoth Biosciences) recently won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her pioneering work in CRISPR and genome editing research.
We’ve shared below a snapshot of a few of our active portfolio companies.
How is the firm different today than when you first started?
Plum Alley is a relatively young company. We remain committed to our investment focus which has not changed over the last five years. What has transpired externally is a growing focus among investors and LPs to invest in technologies driving positive outcomes in the world, and a commitment to invest in diversity. We have seen strong tailwinds particularly in the midst of the COVID pandemic to invest innovations tackling some of the most exciting opportunities of our generation. We are equally seeing the tipping point of investor recognition that backing diverse GPs and diverse founding teams can lead to better returns and outcomes.
Beyond the macro shifts that have changed since we started, Plum Alley has built a strong reputation as a VC firm that is founder friendly, operationally savvy and brings a breadth of investing and capital raising experience. We have also developed a robust database of over 4,000 female founded companies across technology and healthcare from pre-seed to Series C. As part of our commitment to advance greater diversity in venture, we have built partnerships and collaborated on events with organizations like All Raise, Carta, CB Insights, the Consumer Technology Association, Venture Forward and Pitchbook. We see tremendous opportunity to accelerate our collective efforts to champion greater diversity and impact across the venture industry.
Why is your firm a part of NVCA?
NVCA provides many invaluable services to the Venture Capital community through its relentless advocacy, its superior educational programs, its important policy guidance and its ecosystem building capacity. We have found our participation in NVCA to be incredibly valuable. Through NVCA, Plum Alley has been able to engage in a profound exchange of knowledge, thought leadership, and collaboration.
Tell us about the current VC landscape in your geography/region.
As founders, we have witnessed and contributed to the growth of the VC community in New York City over the last decade. It has been exciting to watch the VC industry flourish in New York. With our headquarters in NYC and a presence in the Bay Area, our team works at the heart of entrepreneurship and investing. We are also finding exciting companies outside of these areas as the world has shifted with more distributed work and new innovations hubs popping up across the country. We are seeing the risk-taking ethos and talent pools that were originally associated with Silicon Alley and Silicon Valley spread across the country. Plum Alley’s existing portfolio companies span the East Coast, Midwest, Southwest to the entire West Coast. As we seek to maintain a geographically diverse portfolio, we collaborate with other investors in fast-growing ecosystems, wherever they may be.
What’s ahead for your firm in 2021?
As we look ahead, Plum Alley is at an exciting inflection point of growth. Having invested $32M already, we are now committed to invest $100 million over the next few years. In honor of women’s history month, we are excited to share that Plum Alley is completing a first close for our Plum Alley Venture Fund which will allow us to further scale our growth and impact. We are honored to have been featured at CES 2021 where the Consumer Technology Association announced their anchor investment in our Plum Alley Venture Fund. Something that further distinguishes Plum Alley is our ongoing commitment to engage underrepresented investors, particularly women and minority investors in venture. Alongside Plum Alley’s Venture Fund, we will continue to have Plum Alley Syndicates invest to bring greater diversity to cap tables and to engage a highly networked and value-added base of investors to help our portfolio companies scale and achieve even greater success. We are excited to engage with more investors and back more world-class founders in 2021 and beyond.
Watch our Plum Alley short video from the CEO Keynote at CES 2021.
Describe your firm’s culture in 5 words or less.
Passion, Intention, Curiosity, Excellence, and Humility – our companies core values
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