On June 23, 2022, Ecotone Investment Fund closed its first round of fundraising at $3 million with 37 investors from El Paso, Texas. Ecotone plans a second close in several months for up to another $1 million. The feasibility studies and start-up costs of this fund have been supported by a $300,000 grant to the Medical Center of the Americas Foundation from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. Ecotone’s Investment Committee members are Jody Casey, Ed Escudero, Ben Marcus, Holly Trubowitsch and Emma Schwartz from El Paso, as well as Matt Curl and Matt Doka, El Paso ex-pats living in Silicon Valley and working in the technology and venture capital sectors.
“In addition to being proud that this is one of the largest venture capital funds raised in our region, I am extremely excited about the diversity and inclusion of this fund,” says Emma W. Schwartz, managing general partner, “and we hope that this results in strong investments for well-deserving female founders.” Females make up 30% of the investors and 32% of the dollars invested in Ecotone, and couples make up 11% of the investors and 8% of the dollars invested. In addition, 38% of the investors and 44% of the dollars invested in Ecotone are from minorities, mostly Hispanics, and 23% of the investment dollars are from Hispanic women or Hispanic women as part of a couple that invests. The Investment Committee is also diverse with 43% of the members being women and 30% of the members being Hispanic.
According to a Harvard Kennedy School publication, “Currently in the United States, women make up approximately 11% of investing partners at VC firms, and only around 13% of venture capital dollars go to startups with a woman on the founding team. The 30-year average of all-female founders’ share of VC funding is 2.4% – almost identical to the share in 2018 (2.3%). Nearly three-quarters of U.S. VC firms do not have a single female investing partner” (https://wappp.hks.harvard.edu/venture-capital-and-entrepreneurship).
“We have already started to perform due diligence on several exciting companies, and we will begin investing very soon,” says Matt Curl. “We hope that the El Paso region will come together to support the companies that we fund with the strong nearshore capabilities that it has to offer, while building productive relationships between Silicon Valley and El Paso companies.”