Women are winning in Kansas City, said Kelly Sievers as 24 members of Women’s Capital Connection receive their return from an $18-million buyout of their shares in a Seattle woman’s startup.
“They’re getting a great infusion of capital to grow even more and we also still have money in the company because we invested a couple months ago in a convertible note round and that will be converting to stock at this new valuation,” Sievers, managing director of Women’s Capital Connection, said of the funding network’s relationship with TomboyX — a gender-neutral underwear company responsible for creating the first boxer briefs for women, before expanding into a brand that challenges societal norms.
Click here to browse the startup’s current collections.
A U.K. venture capital firm is responsible for the buyout, Women’s Capital Connection noted in a press release that detailed the transaction.
“It’s great to have a company that had a nice buyout, that was led by women and invested in by women. … It shows support [for women-led companies],” Sievers said.
Supporting the startup since 2016, Women’s Capital Connection invested more than a half-million dollars in TomboyX — an initial $315,000 over three funding rounds and $242,000 in a convertible note which will convert into Series B shares as part of the buyout, Sievers explained.
“They were trying to solve a problem and focused on growing the business and doing what needed to be done,” she said. “They were excited, enthusiastic, they were motivated. I mean, their enthusiasm is contagious! Whenever they’d come up against any kind of hurdle they’d just figure it out.”
An out-of-state venture with Kansas City ties, Fran Dunaway, founder and CEO of TomboyX, is a graduate of the University of Missouri and former resident of Parkville and Platte City.
Such Kansas City ties aren’t the only thing that made the startup attractive to Women’s Capital Connection. It was a quality Sievers said every founder should value: transparency.
“We were so thrilled with the transparency of the founding team and how they came to Kansas City to get to know us and for us to get to know them,” she added. “These people were like this from the start and they kept coming back to Kansas City to present. They wanted us to get to know them personally. … I’ll tell you what, from Day 1, they were excellent at reporting out what was going on. “
Another key investment in TomboyX wasn’t financial, Sievers noted. It came in the form of women having each other’s backs.
“The way I got introduced to [Dunaway] is through Heidi Lehman, who is part of another one of our portfolio companies — Kenzen,” she explained. “Heidi spends a lot of time around Kansas City. She has a home here and in New York … [She] worked with Claude Aldridge at Trellie years ago, and she’s been a Techstars mentor here. Heidi is a rockstar!”
Click here to read about Trellie’s place in the history of the Kansas City startup ecosystem
Support like Lehman’s is invaluable in the startup world and can sow seeds that produce even more women-led wins, Sievers said.