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Interested in experiences of women founders

I have been picking up the pace on fund raising and I am coming up against some interesting resistance. I have seen this before in my ten+ years in other environments but this is my first foray into fund raising as the Founder/CEO. I am curious about experiences that other female founders have had during the fund raising process. And men, if you have something to add - please do! I am looking for insight and perspective from everyone!

15 Replies

Eric Brooke
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Eric Brooke Entrepreneur
Connector of ideas, patterns, trends, knowledge and people
Investors don't trust women, WUSTL study finds

Male-owned firms attract more investment dollars, despite proven success of female CEOs

http://news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/6414.aspx
Paul Travis
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Paul Travis Entrepreneur
Multifaceted Online Executor: Product Marketing to Program Mgmt. to Business Development
Lydia, I'm not sure I understand the specific issue ("interesting resistance"). I've raised a million and gotten a ton of no's -- and helped others raise another million or two -- so I'm happy to share anything that can be of help.

PS. Eric, seems very old-boy-networkish, eh?
Michael Brill
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Michael Brill Entrepreneur
Technology startup exec focused on AI-driven products
Hi Lydia, I think the better you describe "interesting resistance" the more likely you can get valuable feedback. Take it as a given that there is gender bias, but also that women-run companies are being funded. Also, it seems that your product/market focus would have a much greater likelihood of a female CEO than a male CEO. So, yeah, what is the resistance?
Lydia Loizides
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Lydia Loizides Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder and CEO @GGGrit

Well, being addressed as 'sweetheart' for one ;) Lack of eye contact, questions about why now with two kids do you want to do this?... I have had a long and successful intrapreneirual (startups inside corporate companies) so I know the drill. I guess was hoping to get a sense of other's experiences.

Eric Brooke
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Eric Brooke Entrepreneur
Connector of ideas, patterns, trends, knowledge and people
Paul, I think it is a refection on their (investors) relationships with women rather then ability of women..

Frankly it just annoys me. But if the investor is stupid enough not to invest in some because of their sex, gender, race or culture.. well I hope they get lots of opportunities and then not invest and those teams make it big ;-)

Fundraising is so often who you know, not how good you are, or the team or even the idea. So it tends to be cronisim or nepotism.

Finding the right investor is important, matching on values is as important as the financial agreement itself
Jonathan Vanasco
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Jonathan Vanasco Entrepreneur • Advisor
Co-Founder at Aptise
Exactly what resistance have you seen ? What made you feel that it was based on gender and not on your skills or relevant experience ?

This sounds silly to me. One of my companies had a female CEO/Founder - if not for having her on the team as a woman, 2/3 of our meetings would not have taken place. [ And if not for having her on the team as a businessperson, no one would have invested - she's amazing. ]

My point is that there are simply so many doors that open for a female led team and many doors that only a female led team can get through.

You're based in NYC , where there is a HUGE women-led startup scene. Have you been tapping into things like GoldenSeeds or the female founder groups ?
Lona Alia Duncan
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Lona Alia Duncan Entrepreneur
Founder at Style Lend
Lydia,

I know exactly what you are talking about and it is precisely for that reason "interesting resistance" that this time around I decided to not raise right away and finance my company myself. If you send me a message with your email address I can connect you to other female co-founders that have raised funding who have also run into the same unfortunate but very real resistance.
Michael Brill
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Michael Brill Entrepreneur
Technology startup exec focused on AI-driven products
For those of us that get their venture news from tech blogs and directly from investors, "sweetheart" seems so crazy over-the-top that it's hard to even process that. And I thought ageism was the new sexism after my last venture pitch ended with "so gramps, wouldn't you rather be playing with the grandkids?" ;-) In any case, sorry to hear that and I'll avoid trying to offer advice where I have zero experience.
Paul Travis
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Paul Travis Entrepreneur
Multifaceted Online Executor: Product Marketing to Program Mgmt. to Business Development

Sorry Lydia, I definitely can't say I've encountered that kind of prejudice before.

But as a short man, I've encountered the "look down the nose" from a table of 6'4" VC's.

And I know the power of the "cow in the kitchen" -- that objection will cause your time to be wasted if you don't address head on. So my recommendation would be to smoothly and concisely incorporate it into your pitch:

Take 15 seconds to add in your Team slide, "Now I know some investors are stuck in the 1900's and only invest in male CEO's, but for those of you who recognize a savvy leader who can build a team and bring home the bacon, let me tell you who else is on board..."

Jonathan Vanasco
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Jonathan Vanasco Entrepreneur • Advisor
Co-Founder at Aptise
My "silly" comment was written before Lydia shared her experiences. Those are just terrible, I'm sorry.

There's a huge female-founder network in NYC. You should be tapping into it. I wouldn't be surprised if the people you had bad experiences with were on a "don't bother" list somewhere...
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