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Broadening the On-ramp for Women-run Companies

It Has Been a Great Few Weeks for the MergeLane Fund

It has been a great few weeks for the MergeLane fund. With three compelling up-rounds in that time frame, we’re very excited about where our portfolio companies are and where they’re headed. When people ask us what our criteria are for investments, we always talk about team as the distant number one priority. We walk that walk years after we make an investment, focusing on the success of our people as much as of our companies (of course, they usually go together).

I wanted to share this recent, wonderful interchange with TomboyX after a great week for them:

Dear Fran and Naomi:

In the last few days, you have:

Closed a major Series A round

Been featured in the Top 250 in the Inc 5000 and identified as one of the fastest growing companies in Seattle in an article headlined “Forget Starbucks”

Been covered in Techcrunch in a story comparing your trajectory to Casper and Warby Parker

I know that these are not the most important things in building a successful business (though they are certainly better than a stick in the eye).

What I want to share with you (again) is that I am so proud of you and proud to be even slightly associated with you (because I know you have so many people whom you’ve recruited to back your efforts).

TomboyX CEO Fran Dunaway Pitching at MergeLane Demo Day 2015
TomboyX CEO Fran Dunaway during 2015 MergeLane Demo Day Pitch

I have watched you with awe. You have fought through really crappy times with high demand and no inventory. You are in a business that’s really hard. You have taken big risks, trusted your gut, abandoned big aspects of your business to focus on one seam you rightly saw as a huge opportunity. You have led this company through messaging with your hearts and your convictions around justice and inclusion. With this messaging, you have changed the world for so many people. You have helped ME see beauty in a far broader context. You have helped me understand — even the smallest bit — the heart of a person who is not gender-identified or who has chosen to transition. I am more sensitive in the world because of you, and I am better for it.

You have sold me rainbow boxers, and I love them (and frequently unzip my fly to show my girlfriends how excellent they are).

You have so much to be proud of. I hope that you already have gotten more than you hoped for from this journey. I hope that trend continues. The better you do, the better we all do.

With deep admiration and love,


Here is her response:

Dear Team MergeLane :

Wow. This email goes with the list of amazing things that happened this week. Thank you so much. It really means so much to us and truly, we would not be here had it not been for you. A lifeline when we really needed it.

I’m not going to lie, it feels good to be here. It’s awesome to be debt free at home and at work. We’re taking time for vacations, a first in 5 years. And we are spending quality time with friends and family. I even bought a latte machine and got rid of a horrible coffee maker we’ve had forever. I can read a balance sheet, analyze a P&L and hold court in evaluating CAC and LTV. I feel solid in our vision going forward. And every day, we hear from customers who are thankful for what we are doing. That, more than anything, validates our insanity in taking this risk.

We are eternally grateful our fallback plan of moving to our rental house in Mississippi didn’t happen. Although growing a nice, juicy tomato was a part that made that option palatable.

Thank you all for everything.

Much love to you all, Fran

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