Access VC is a groundbreaking corporate venture capital firm (CVC) that is disrupting the traditional model with its mission-driven focus on underserved markets at the intersection of health, hygiene, and nutrition.
Co-founded by a woman and backed by Reckitt, Access VC is committed to making a positive impact through strategic investments in companies that are tackling taboo topics like sexual wellness and bladder control.
Through its transparent, collaborative, and value-added approach, Access VC is helping companies succeed faster and changing the landscape of venture capital for the better. By investing in diverse founders and providing access to resources and strategic partnerships, Access VC drives financial returns and creates a more inclusive, sustainable economy. With its B Corp certification and strong portfolio of companies, Access VC is at the forefront of a movement revolutionizing how venture capital operates. It is leading the charge toward a more profitable and socially responsible future.
The Birth Of A Mission-Driven Corporate Venture Capital Firm
Access VC is Reckitt’s three-year-old purpose-driven corporate venture capital arm—best known in the U.S. for its Lysol and Durex brands. Reckitt is a global company focused on health, hygiene, and nutrition.
Throughout venture capital’s history, it has been focused, for the most part, on financial returns, leading the sector to be dominated by men with elite backgrounds. Many founders, especially women, are also focused on social impact as well as returns. Access VC is focused on underserved markets at the intersection of health, hygiene, and nutrition. Often, these products address conditions that are stigmatized by the public, such as bladder control, incontinence and sexual wellness.
“We noticed that many companies that we wanted to invest in were B Corps,” said Charlotte Schofield, venture director at Access VC. Access VC. “So we wanted to be held to the same standards that they were being held to.”
B Corps are for-profit companies that have been certified by B Lab to meet high standards of social and environmental performance. They use the power of business to create a more inclusive and sustainable economy. Companies complete a rigorous assessment process on their impact on stakeholders.
With over 4,000 B Corps in 70 countries, they set an example of being both profitable and socially responsible. Companies such as Patagonia, Seventh Generation, and Ben & Jerry’s are signaling to consumers and investors that they are committed to social and environmental responsibility. B Corp is not just a certification, it’s a movement that also includes Kapor Capital, Obvious Ventures, Social Capital, and Access VC.
It took Access VC nearly two years to become B Corp certified. During that time, Access VC discovered where it was doing well and where it needed improvement. “We got so many people involved,” said Schofield. Legal and finance were involved, but the CVC also sought advice from its portfolio companies that are or are becoming B Corps.
More Than Just Funding: How Access VC is Speeding Success
Access VC invests worldwide, with the greatest concentration of companies in Europe and the U.S. Access VC-backed companies have access to Reckitt’s R&D, resources, research facilities, and consumer insights. To date, it has invested more than $50 million in over 30 startups, from pre-seed, to Series C and beyond. Twelve are part of its portfolio, and the others are pre-seed startups that have participated in the Founder Factory accelerator, which is backed by market-leading corporations. It invests in companies that are fighting for access to better health, hygiene, and nutrition in critically overlooked and stigmatized categories such as sextech and menopause, among others.
Portfolio companies include
- Begin Health: prebiotics for constipated kids
- Future Method: anal care for all genders constipation)
- Jude: clinically proven supplements that reduce the urge to wee
- Maude: sexual wellness for all people
As a relatively new corporate venture capital firm, it had to build a reputation in the startup community as a value-added investor. “Corporate venture capitalists have a reputation as being slow and not adding value,” said Schofield. “We are a completely separate entity with our board and decision-making process enabling us to act quickly. We have a 100-day process from meeting founders to investment.”
Their portfolio companies have diverse founders:
- 38% of companies have a female founder compared to 20.1% of U.S. companies that received VC as of September 30, 2023, according to PitchBook.
- 23% have a solo female founder compared to 2.2% of U.S. companies that received VC.
- 28% have a BIPOC founder, no data is available,
Access VC is building a reputation as transparent and approachable, effective at opening doors to strategic partnerships and media opportunities, helpful in addressing regulatory issues and packaging designs, well connected and able to make introductions to vendors, such as PR and marketing firms and third-party logistics companies, quick on approval processes, and unafraid to support taboo conversations such as sexual health and wellness.
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