How the founder of Ritual found investors and raised over $40 million


  • Even although corporations led by a minimum of one feminine founder carry out 63% higher than corporations with all-male leaders, feminine founders nonetheless solely obtain about three% of all VC funding.
  • Katerina Schneider, a former enterprise capital companion, was denied funding from one investor when she was pregnant and making an attempt to boost for her startup Ritual.
  • But she went on to usher in over $40 million in funding by avoiding chilly pitching, promoting her distinctive story, and demonstrating a path to profitability.
  • She additionally made positive her and her investors have been aligned on values in addition to what success seemed like for the firm long run.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for extra tales.

Prior to creating vitamin model Ritual, which has raised over $40 million in funding since its inception, Katerina Schneider was a enterprise capital companion, managing a portfolio of over 70 tech investments together with model names like Spotify, Uber, Dropbox, and Warby Parker. She additionally served as the head of international innovation at the branding and artist administration firm Atom Factory and as the international lead of digital innovation at Universal Music Group. 

Still, her monitor report and credentials did not forestall her from experiencing sexism throughout the fundraising course of. 

“When I was pregnant and raising our first round of financing, I had an investor tell me that I should choose between starting a family and a business,” she informed Business Insider. 

There are nice strides but to be made for feminine entrepreneurs, contemplating corporations led by all-women founding groups obtain simply three% of enterprise capital, in line with a 2019 report by Pitchbook and the National Venture Capital Association. Black feminine entrepreneurs have acquired even much less with .0006% of VC funds since 2009 — regardless of the proven fact that corporations headed by a minimum of one feminine founder outperform these headed by all-male leaders by 63%, in line with analysis highlighted in a 2019 “Beyond the VC Funding Gap” report from Morgan Stanley.

And the distrust of working mothers — a type of discrimination that is so pervasive, it has a reputation: “maternal wall bias” — is so widespread that 75% of folks consider working fathers are devoted to their jobs whereas solely 59% consider mothers are, in line with a survey of greater than 2,000 working Americans. And 77% consider working dads are extra succesful of juggling their duties, in line with the similar survey.

Schneider informed Business Insider she did not have the braveness to answer the VC’s sexist remark at the time, however it “created a fire” in her stomach, including gasoline to her already sturdy need to construct a significant enterprise. 

“It’s also become a mission of mine to inspire and help other female founders navigate their journey to becoming a mom and running a company,” she mentioned.

Ritual’s founder and CEO moved on from rejection by pivoting her technique and prioritizing in search of out extra mission-aligned investors. In specific, she made an effort to satisfy with extra feminine VCs. 

Schneider, who lately gave beginning to her third little one whereas working her firm that now sells a bottle of multivitamins each 16 seconds — and a median of 1,000 prenatal bottles every day — shared with Business Insider the actual ways that labored for touchdown funding. 

Put your self in entrance of investors that share your values by means of networking and attending occasions

Part of the problem for feminine entrepreneurs in search of exterior funding is the lack of range inside the employees of enterprise capital corporations. Women make up about solely 11% of VC funding companions in the US and about 75% of US VC corporations haven’t got even one feminine companion. 

“There is an enormous need for more female investors and also a tremendous need to increase diversity overall when it comes to investing,” Schneider mentioned. 

That mentioned, she shared that it is essential to acknowledge that VCs are solely making just a few investments per 12 months, which signifies that discovering somebody with an curiosity in and connection to what you are doing is essential. 

The finest solution to uncover these investors is to have a look at the portfolio of corporations VC corporations have already invested in, she mentioned. 

“Reach out to those founders, find a connection to them, and spend time with them,” she mentioned. “Then, try to get an intro to those investors and also ask them if they are right for your business and your future vision.”

Most importantly, attempt to keep away from chilly outreach if attainable. “Find a connection to the investor to make an intro for you,” Schneider mentioned, “preferably a founder from another company they’ve backed.”

After all, it was by means of Philip Krim, the CEO of Casper, that she was capable of be launched to Kirsten Green, the founding companion of Forerunner Ventures, somebody Schneider had revered and admired from afar and who ended up main Ritual’s seed funding spherical. 

Although Forerunner wasn’t an investor in Casper, by means of the connection Schneider did not have to achieve out on her personal.

Another long-time connection, Brian Singerman from Founders Fund, would find yourself serving to to guide the firm’s sequence A. 

And Schneider met Lisa Wu from Norwest, who ended up main the firm’s sequence B fundraiser, after pitching on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt, an business occasion the place many early-stage founders join with investors. Wu was so impressed with Schneider’s pitch that the VC companion made the first transfer to introduce herself to the founder.

Highlight founder-market match and sustainable progress

While many entrepreneurs attempt to pitch their startups primarily based on the untapped alternative of the “total addressable market” of a given business, Schneider mentioned that method alone shouldn’t be sufficient to persuade VCs to take a position.

“You won’t believe how many business pitches I’ve heard that just talk about the market size and filling a void,” she mentioned. “What is compelling about the story and the founder is many times they are trying to solve a problem for themselves and they won’t quit to get there.”

She added that it is essential to share why you are uniquely positioned to unravel the drawback you are tackling when pitching.

In Schneider’s case, her story centered on her personal mission to discover a prenatal vitamin that was each “clean and science backed” when she was making ready to turn into a first-time mom. When she could not discover one which happy her standards, the concept for Ritual — and her firm’s pitch — was born. That private connection and dedication appealed to the investors that finally determined to again her firm.

Lisa Wu

Lisa Wu.

Lisa Wu


“When I heard [Schneider] explain why she was passionate about creating a vitamin that consumers could trust, I was convinced,” Wu, one of Ritual’s earliest investors, informed Business Insider. “One of the most important assets to have in a startup is founder-market fit. [Schneider] was a sharp, mission-driven founder with a history of success who knew exactly what was missing in the $80 billion [vitamin] market, and she understood the audience Ritual could attract with a transparency-driven approach.”

Wu acknowledged that the vitamin business is a “black box” — that the majority people do not learn about the nutritional vitamins they’re taking, what substances they comprise, and if they will actually work.

Through Schneider’s pitch, the Norwest Partner noticed in Ritual the potential to spend money on an organization that may disrupt this business with its distinctive advertising and marketing method that centered on high-quality substances and a direct-to-consumer subscription mannequin. Shortly after assembly in individual, Wu invested in the firm’s seed spherical. 

Schneider mentioned profitable pitches additionally want to indicate a path to profitability and sturdy branding, and, in later funding phases, it’s vital to indicate environment friendly progress — that’s, progress at a sustainable price. 

“The days of growth at all cost are long gone,” she mentioned. “Everyone is striving to have a healthy business where you can control your growth and your burn.”

Make positive you and investors are aligned on what ‘success’ means

When assembly with VCs, make sure to ask them what success appears like of their eyes, Schneider beneficial. 

What the “right” solutions are will rely by yourself definition of success. If your objective is to promote your organization in just a few years and earn a living shortly, then make sure to search for a companion who desires the similar factor. 

Schneider has ended up partnering with investors who problem the firm’s pondering whereas trusting her and her crew to keep up their imaginative and prescient. 

“For me and for Ritual, the vision was to make this company a household name, no matter how long it takes us, and create products rooted in science and transparency,” Schneider mentioned. “I was looking for investors who wanted and believed that this could be a $1 billion and up company.” 



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