Meet the Rising Female Founders Building the Metaverse
Compiled by the DVRSTY team
Meet the Rising Female Founders Building the Metaverse
At FOV Ventures we believe that the Metaverse is a generational evolution of the Internet. It’s a fundamental shift in the way we think about building applications, services and products that move beyond today’s static media on 2D screens and into more spatial, 3D and immersive environments that look and feel a lot more like the physical world.
Many of the large tech incumbents are working towards this future. But alongside them a new wave of founders will be building the most disruptive applications and fundamentally shifting the way we will work, play, create, collaborate and socialize; whether that’s in physical or virtual environments.
In order to make this generation of the Internet a fundamentally better, fairer and more interesting place, we believe it’s important that it’s built by a more diverse set of founders that better reflects all of its users.
We know that diversity within the startup and venture ecosystem is already an important and challenging topic. And place as much, if not more, importance on it when it comes to building out the Metaverse. That’s why last year we set up an initiative called DVRSTY, alongside a number of community partners including Women In Immersive Tech (WiiT), the XR Diversity Initiative (XRDI), AWE and a number of other allies that include investors and operators who all share an interest in keeping diversity front of mind as the Metaverse gets built out.
The overall mission of the DVRSTY initiative is to promote diversity in all its forms within the Metaverse, but we’ve started by tackling gender diversity. Our first set of activities are focused on identifying female founders* in Europe, who are in the early stages of forming or building a new startup in the space and connecting them with network and capital. As FOV Ventures, we are also dedicating internal resources to help run the initiative and setting aside a specific pool of capital. But we couldn’t do this without the help of all our partners and the wider community. So please get in touch if you’re interested in getting involved.
Our first activity last year was the inaugural DVRSTY Office Hours for female founders. To follow-up, in honor of International Women's Day on March 8th, 2023, we’ll be opening up applications for our second instalment and have tweaked and expanded the format to provide more hands-on support and other tangible benefits. Please sign up to FOV’s Viewpoints newsletter, or check back here on Wednesday to make sure you get all the details.
In the meantime, we wanted to recognise that there are quite a number of amazing female founders here in Europe that have already started building (in fact we had over 40 apply for the last DVRSTY Office Hours)! Some have raised considerable sums of money, others are just starting on their journey. But they’re all making significant contributions to the Metaverse industry in Europe.
As we started making a list of those founders that we already knew, we realized that it would be a great idea to throw open that list, celebrate their achievements so far and shine a light on what they’re building. We also plan to open source all the data on the startups we get to know. So please spread the word.
SideQuest has become an important part of the VR developer ecosystem enabling the distribution of early access content to users. In October 2022 the Belfast-based startup raised $12m in a fresh funding round led by Google Ventures continue building more tools and services to help developers. Orla is the COO and co-founder and recently moved to Spain.
Emperia brings brands, fashion and art into the Metaverse through its platform for building virtual immersive spaces. The company recently raised $10m in Series A funding with clients including Bloomingdale’s, Burberry, Lacoste. With a background in luxury fashion, Olga founded the company after consulting for Microsoft on a fashion-related project and trying VR for the first time.
Petaverse is building an open standard for digital pets and virtual companions in AR and across the Metaverse. Last year they raised $7m in March ‘22 and will launch their first mint soon. Susan is a veteran of the games industry with 25 years experience that includes co-founding 2K Games/2K Sports.
Digital Village is a technology platform that enables the creation of 3D immersive virtual worlds as a way to empower creative expression. The company announced in January that it had raised $4m from investors that included L’Oreal’s Bold Ventures. Evelyn was the founder of Helsinki Fashion Week before moving to Paris where she now lives.
Talewind has gained a reputation for being the ‘Supercell of Roblox’, and raised $3.4m just over a year ago to make games and experiences for Roblox and other Metaverse platforms. Georgina is the cofounder and COO of Talewind and an advocate for work-life balance in the gaming industry, implementing a four day work week for her company.
RSTLSS provides access and opportunity for brands, influencers, and artists to design and offer multiverse fashion, NFTs, and gaming. The Metaverse fashion platform raised $3.5m in March 2022. Charli has been exploring digital interconnectivity with physical products for many years and the brand has integrated digital tech into IRL clothing while building virtual worlds.
Virtual Speech is an immersive soft skills training platform, with a focus on communication skills such as public speaking, sales, and leadership. The company originally went through Boost.vc, with its last public funding round at the end of 2021. Sophie co-founded VirtualSpeech in 2016 as a way to overcome her own fear of public speaking.
Together, Marjorie Hernandez and Karinna Nobbs are the co-founders of The Dematerialised a Web 3.0 marketplace for authenticated virtual goods, which they describe as “the digital department store of your dreams.” They’re part of a new wave of pioneering female entrepreneurs challenging the luxury status quo and creating a new reality for fashion.
Immersiv reinvents the sports fan experience using augmented reality. They have worked with a wide range of partners from Orange and Deustche Telekom, to Bayern Munich and the NHL. As a company working in the sports industry, Emmanuelle believes it’s especially important to encourage more diversity and avoid the stereotypes in that sector.
Currently working in stealth mode, Me3D is building the future of social content for the next generation of creators; Roblox meets instagram. More to be announced on their funding round soon. Hanna spent time in gaming at Rovio and Supercell’s Metacore, but also has a rich history in music including her own electronic post-trip hop band based in Helsinki.
Wait there’s more!
All the female founders in our featured list, as well as our longer list below, are making significant contributions to the Metaverse industry in Europe, with their innovative ideas and technology. Let's celebrate their achievements and support them as they continue to grow and shape the future of the Metaverse. And don’t worry if you don’t see yourself (or someone you know) on here. This is just the beginning. You can ask to be added to the list by going here. And also free to tag the person on this LinkedIn post, or connect with Sointu Karjalainen (FOV Ventures), Isabel De Peuter-Rutten and/or Leen Seegers (WiiT)
Paula Sello & Alissa Aulbekovo @ Auroboros. Metaverse-native luxury fashion house created for both the physical & digital worlds.
Gala Marija Vrbanic @Tribute Brand. Makes digital clothing which consumers can buy and paste onto themselves.
Raquel Cardoso @ Sense of Space. Smart 3d compression, optimization and streaming system for the Metaverse.
Emmi Jouslehto @ Arilyn
Design immersive and interactive XR experiences to make brands’ message stick.
Linda Fachinetti @ Jump Into Reality
Virtual reality technology to design 3D interior spaces and go from concept to life-like immersive experiences in real-time.
Rahel Demant @ XR Bootcamp. XR Bootcamp is a global online academy offering beginner to advanced XR development courses. Curricula are developed and taught by award-winning, leading VR, AR, and MR professionals.
Using applied immersive entertainment to help people learn, understand, and have funvrischvrischMany thanks to those who have already contributed to this list including Sointu Karjalainen (FOV Ventures), Isabel De Peuter-Rutten (Gatherverse), Leen Seegers (WiiT), Asha Easton (ImmerseUK). These lists are always tricky to put together, but as mentioned above, please let us know who we’ve missed or ask them to go here.
Our thought process for selecting the founders:
We hope this list will serve a few different purposes eg. shining a light on those already building, inspiring others to do the same, providing a good resource for others looking to identify more female founders (incl. investors, conference organizers etc). And of course we hope that it will help more people find out about the DVRSTY #2 Office Hours that we’ll be announcing later
These founders are all based in Europe (we had to limit ourselves somehow!). Hopefully someone else is also making a US and ROW list :)
We’ve focused on founders that are building startups that plan to scale to many people and likely raise additional funding (vs. solopreneurs, agencies, service-based businesses). But it’s important to point out that venture backing isn’t always the right way to grow a company.
*To be as inclusive as possible, when we say female founders we could also expand this to being any founder identifying as female and including trans or non-binary