Pritzker Group Venture Capital, one of Chicago’s most active venture capital firms, named a female partner Wednesday for the first time in 10 years.
The new partner, 36-year-old Sonia Nagar, originally joined Pritzker Group as vice president in 2016, a role in which she was responsible for sourcing and overseeing investments in consumer industries. She led the firm’s investments in startups such as Wander Beauty, Rael and Chicago’s Interior Define, where she sits on the board.
The promotion, which officially went into effect in December, gives Nagar more power to make final decisions on whether to invest in certain companies.
“The thing that changes is my influence and ability to do deals and make investments,” she said, adding that her focus will remain on consumer industries. “I was really excited to get the promotion because I think I can have an even bigger impact now as part of the five-person partner team that makes investment decisions for the fund.”
Before joining Pritzker Group, Nagar was the vice president of product and head of mobile for RetailMeNot, which she joined following its acquisition of her startup, Pickie. Nagar founded the e-commerce mobile app in 2011. Prior to that, she worked at Amazon, Goldman Sachs and General Motors. Nagar holds a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
In addition to Nagar, Pritzker Group also promoted two other employees recently. Ty Findley, who joined the firm in 2017 as a senior associate, has been named vice president. He’s been responsible for leading the firm’s investments in Plus One Robotics, FreightWaves and DroneBase.
Additionally, Eric Duboe, who joined the firm in 2016 as an associate, was named senior associate. Duboe has helped provide deal support on more than 20 investments and currently serves as a board observer for Visibly, formerly known as Opternative, the firm said.
“Sonia, Ty and Eric have proven themselves tremendous assets to both our firm and the ground-breaking companies we support,” said the firm’s Managing Partner Chris Girgenti in a statement. “Between their own entrepreneurial endeavors and their dedication to fostering community around targeted industry segments, they truly embody the PGVC spirit. It is with excitement that we promote them to these new roles and we look forward to seeing them grow even more in the years ahead.”
Of the 11 “investment professionals” at Pritzker Group, just three of them are women, according to the firm. Venture capital firms across Chicago struggle with diversity and inclusion, according to data from Chicago Blend, an initiative examining the gender and racial gaps in the city’s tech community.
Their data shows that 75 percent of Chicago’s VC industry is male and 86 percent are white. Even worse, 86 percent of executive-level roles are held by men and 91 percent of executive-level professionals are white, showing why Nagar’s appointment is both rare and significant. According to Crain’s, Nagar is one of about a dozen female partners at Chicago-area venture funds.
“When you see other women that are successful and reaching the partner ranks, it’s a good indication that there’s a path or opportunity for other women to pursue something similar,” Nagar said. “I look forward to the day when a female making partner is no longer newsworthy.”