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TruStage™ Ventures Discovery Fund completes $11 million in investments
TruStage Ventures, the venture capital arm of TruStage, released its second annual report detailing the impact of its Discovery Fund, created in 2021 to invest in early-stage companies led by diverse founders and CEOs building solutions for financial inclusion. These companies are making an impact on improving financial health and providing underserved communities with more affordable, accessible financial services.
“Diverse leaders are often best positioned to solve challenges in inequity and financial inclusion, yet they remain underfunded,” said Elizabeth McCluskey, Director of the Discovery Fund. “For the past three years, we’ve supported and invested in companies offering solutions to improve the financial health of communities underserved by the traditional financial system. It is making a real difference, and we are proud to commit to continuing these investments and improving industry standards.”
In 2023, companies founded solely by women accounted for 2% of the total capital invested in venture-backed startups1 and black founders received less than 0.5%.2 The Discovery Fund challenges industry standards, allocating 34% of its investment dollars to women founders and 66% to BIPOC founders to date. The fund aims to narrow the equity gap by investing up to $5 million annually in fintech companies led by BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and women founders.3
This year, the fund invested in four new companies and completed follow-on investments in seven portfolio companies. Its team facilitated growth for its portfolio companies by providing over 100 strategic introductions to credit unions and other customers and securing more than 50 notable speaking and media engagements.3
New companies in the Discovery Fund’s portfolio include Debbie, Salus, Starlight, and Kanmon. Frida Leibowitz, CEO and co-founder of Debbie, said, “The Discovery Fund partners with diverse founders who are best positioned to build scalable businesses that address real issues that underserved communities face. We’re looking forward to building our name alongside this partnership, leveraging TruStage Ventures influence and credibility to reach more credit unions and help them acquire young members.”
The Discovery Fund supports companies in their earliest stages when establishing a reputation and attracting funding can be the most challenging. In 2023, three companies graduated from the Discovery Fund to the Ventures portfolio. Having validated their business models and scalability, Zirtue, Pulsate, and Beem received larger checks from the TruStage Ventures fund.
“TruStage Ventures has been an invaluable partner and investor in our company for the past two years,” said Dennis Cail, CEO and co-founder of Zirtue. “From day one, they've shared our same mission of driving financial equity and inclusion. They continue to bring valuable resources and relationships to help us be successful while empowering us to think long-term. It’s a real honor to graduate to the larger fund and have TruStage Ventures lead our Series A round. It speaks volumes to how forward-thinking and committed the entire company is to financial inclusion.”
“The Discovery Fund offers a much-needed launching point; we identify companies that can improve financial inclusion and accelerate their path towards performance and success,” said Elizabeth McCluskey, Director of the Discovery Fund. “We’re proud to support these leaders in their early stages and continue to support them though the next growth phase. Together, we are better equipping financial institutions with financially inclusive services to help their customers build brighter financial futures.”
About TruStage Ventures
TruStage Ventures, LLC, is the venture capital arm of TruStage, a financially strong insurance, investment and technology provider. We believe a brighter financial future should be accessible to everyone, and our products and solutions help people confidently make financial decisions that work for them at every stage of life. TruStage Ventures, LLC, houses two investment funds: a general fund focused on strategic investments and partnerships to connect fintechs with credit unions and financial institutions, and the Discovery Fund, focused on early-stage investments in fintechs with diverse founding teams. TruStage Ventures, LLC, has invested in over 50 fintechs, including 21 in the Discovery Fund, and is committed to continuing to invest in fintechs that help make brighter financial futures accessible to all. For more information, visit www.trustage.com/ventures.