Diana Murakhovskaya and Stephanie Campbell of The Artemis Fund

The interview below is part of a series from The McGuireWoods Emerging Manager Program featuring impressive emerging managers. The McGuireWoods Emerging Manager Program supports emerging managers throughout the most critical stages of a fund’s evolution. It offers a differentiated and proprietary approach to connecting emerging managers with limited partners, providing intelligence on market terms and preferences, and advising emerging managers on all components of building a durable brand as an investor. To recommend an emerging manager for a future interview, please email the team at MWEMC@mcguirewoods.com.

Q: What led to the decision to raise your initial fund? What were the indicators — external and internal — that you were ready?

Diana Murakhovskaya (DM): My partner, Stephanie Campbell, and I spent decades investing as angels and accelerating female- and diverse-founded companies. The founders we supported rarely had access to venture capital partners willing to lead their deals and provide the structure and support needed to reach their next milestones.

We believe diverse tech founders will drive opportunity and resilience in our economy, and we resonate with their ambition.

In terms of external data, the market is craving more enduring solutions like the Artemis Fund. Female and diverse entrepreneurs receive less than 2% of overall venture capital dollars each year. Despite growing efforts to support female and diverse founders, funding still came in at only 1.8% in 2023. We decided to launch a firm that capitalized on our national limited partner (LP) and co-investor networks and our investing and operating experience to address this gap.

Internally, we’re unwavering in our determination to solve these problems because we’ve experienced them personally. Stephanie and I faced and overcame tremendous obstacles to achieve the American dream. Together, we are building an enduring, top-performing financial institution. We are in it to win it and to make an impact, just like our founders. The internal data that keep us going are the results our founders are delivering financially and the impact they are making on communities.

Q: How did you think about assembling your team?

Stephanie Campbell (SC): Our fund is named for Artemis, goddess of the hunt and champion of women and wild things. She leads a carefully curated hunting party that never quits. At Artemis, we value trust, transparency, diversity, passion, perseverance and methodical action.

The Artemis Fund and our portfolio founders seek diverse and complementary perspectives, lived experiences and unique talents to form the strongest, nimblest and most effective hunting parties, from junior team members to advisers.

Ultimately, we value data-driven decision-making. Artemis uses data in every step of our process to find an edge and remove unnecessary risk. We aim to be the most prepared investor on a founder’s cap table, and we understand the company intimately so we can provide the most value to the founders and our investors. We have built a team and culture that value curiosity and rigor.

Q: What were the most important considerations for you when choosing LPs to pursue for partnership?

DM: We’ve been deliberate about building an LP base that reflects the diversity of our portfolio and aligns with our thesis. We are proud to have brought on top institutional investors including Bank of America, Bank of Montreal, Texas Capital and Amazon. These LPs are aligned with our mission to address key barriers facing overlooked businesses, communities and families in the United States.

We are also proud of the fact that half of our individual LPs are women. Our goal is to help build the next generation of LPs, including underrepresented founders and operators.

Q: What did you consider and prioritize when developing an investment strategy for your initial fund?

SC: When developing our investment strategy, we married data with our unique strengths to drive outsized returns. Innovation in fintech, commerce and care has the highest potential to unlock prosperity based on key economic and demographic data and trends. We believe technology has the opportunity to sustain prosperity for all, but it’s not possible without diverse perspectives.

Artemis is a high-conviction, concentrated, lead investor at the seed stage. We do the research and analyze markets and trends to proactively pick companies that can be market leaders and pour ourselves into those picks.

We also believe you do not have to sacrifice discipline for scale. We spend a great deal of time sourcing, selecting and setting up every deal for long-term success and big outcomes. To provide the highest level of service to our founders, we are concentrated by design with no more than 20 companies per fund.

Q: Recognizing the complexities in raising a first-time fund, what are some teachable moments you have encountered along the way?

DM: The most important lesson we learned is to do the research to find people. Qualify LPs and don’t spend time convincing someone who is not buying what you are selling.

We also spend a great deal of time learning from general partners (GPs) we respect and trust. The best way to find out about LPs and how they are to work with is from other GPs. Also, if we aren’t a fit, we want to help connect others we respect that may be a fit.

We highly value our reputation and relationships in the venture capital community. This is an extremely long-term, reputation-based business. Treating people in a transactional manner isn’t a recipe for long-term success.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you were given when raising your first fund?

SC: It’s a marathon, not a race. You never stop fundraising. I love hearing complaints about how it took 100 meetings to raise a fund. We took 1,000 to get to fund I. Don’t let a “no” discourage you. “Yes” is just on the other side.

Q: With emerging manager programs on the rise, what do you foresee with respect to LPs’ willingness to invest with emerging managers?

DM: The best returns always come from emerging managers. We are hungry, and we have new perspectives and relationships to bring to the table. Venture capital is about finding outlier returns. You won’t find them on the beaten path. The best-performing LPs will always be looking for the next best emerging managers.

About Diana Murakhovskaya

Diana Murakhovskaya is co-founder and general partner of The Artemis Fund, a venture fund that leads seed rounds for female tech innovators in fintech, commerce enablement and the care economy. Prior to Artemis, she spent over a decade in tech investment banking M&A and commodities sales and trading at Lehman Brothers and Macquarie Bank.

After building and launching the first women-only iPhone app for new friends and networking, Murakhovskaya became compelled to solve the difficulties women founders faced in fundraising. She went on to co-found the Monarq Incubator — the first national, funding-focused incubator curated for gender-diverse founding teams — which she and her partner sold in 2019.

Murakhovskaya is an active angel investor and member of the Houston entrepreneurial community with deep roots in her hometown of New York City. She holds a B.E. in mechanical engineering from The Cooper Union and is originally from Ukraine.

About Stephanie Campbell

Stephanie Campbell is co-founder and general partner of The Artemis Fund, a venture fund that leads seed rounds for female founders in fintech, commerce enablement and the care economy. Prior to Artemis, Campbell was managing director of the Houston Angel Network, one of the most active angel networks in the country.

Before moving to Houston in 2015 to pursue her MBA from Rice University, Campbell worked as a government relations associate at the Washington, D.C., lobbying firm Potomac Partners DC. She helped clients in the transportation, infrastructure and financial services industries navigate federal policy and funding. She also served as an executive recruiter for Fortune 500 companies, hedge funds and investment firms.

Campbell has a B.S. in political science from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, and an MBA from the Rice University Graduate School of Business.