According to a 10-year study conducted by FirstRound Capital, companies with a female co-founder perform 63% better than all-male teams. As impressive as that statistic is, women are still less likely to be funded in comparison to men. Pitchbook discovered that only 9.7% of VC-backed companies have had at least one female founder since 2005. For the female leaders out there making it happen, much can be learned from others who have walked a similar path. We’ve put together some valuable insight from four female founders who were selected to speak on a women in tech panel for this year’s Internet Week New York.
Businesses are created to solve problems and while there are a myriad of problems to choose from, there are only a few that are actually personal to each of us. Amanda Spann, founder of Alchomy, is a self-professed enjoyer of alcohol. When explaining how she came up with the idea for Alchomy, she wrote on her blog, “I set out to change the way I drink and the way other people drink too. I also wanted to ensure that I was going to invest my time and energy into something that would be a catalyst to create the life I see myself in….full-time globe trotting and drink spotting.” Spann mentioned her idea to friends and they agreed that an app that allows them to source craft drinks and find recipes was something they indeed wanted. Alcohomy currently has access to over 20,000 drink recipes and a growing user base.
It is in fact, possible to do good while making a profit, but you have to get creative. Samira Panah, co-founder of Bridge2Act, took a personal call to action and set out to transform the way we give to nonprofits and charities. While reading stories about human suffering, she felt hopeless. She wanted to act, but didn’t know how. So, the idea to develop software that can be embedded into an article initiating a call to action was born. Samira has been building out Bridge2Act with her co-founders for almost two years. They have become experts in the field of philanthropy in order to prove the need for their idea. They found that only 6% of all giving is done online, hence a need for their product. Now they have 40 non-profit partners and 13 publishers. They’ve raised $15K in micro-donations in the first 4 and a half months of launching.
When it comes to establishing a strong leadership team, gender diversity does matter. Eka Take, co-founder of Tattle, learned about the dynamics of co-foundership when she joined an already formed team. Tattle is a “yelp alternative” that allows customers to give private feedback to restaurant owners. This way, the criticism doesn’t damage the business. The original founders of Tattle were all male. They came to the realization that they needed to increase their outreach to big businesses if they were going to be successful. Enters Eka Take. She had years of experience in sales/marketing and business development. Throughout the interview process, Eka said she equally assessed the personal qualities of the founding team. And before agreeing to join up, she took into consideration whether or not she would have autonomy and respect from this already established group. She wanted to be sure that this would be a working relationship that would encourage her to love the work she does. She’s been with Tattle for eight months now (Tattle was founded in 2014) and has helped to add 200 local restaurants on their platform.
Your fundraising plan should be as meticulous as your business plan. A simple app may need a couple of hundred dollars to get going. A full scale operation may take a couple thousand dollars or much much more. VC’s want to know how much money you have raised (whether of your own or someone else’s) before they invest. Co-Sign, a Digital.NYC March 2016 startup to watch, allows user to make money from selfies using smart-tagging technology. This enables viewers to click on an item in the selfie and buy it from a retailer. Co-Sign founders took an innovative approaching to fundraising and were able to raise $41,571 in 30 days on KickStarter. Founder, Esosa Ighodaro, attributed their success to gaining pledges from family and friends before their KickStarter went live. She said that allowed her to know roughly how much money she could raise within the first hour. Kickstarter tracks momentum, so if you reach a high percentage of your goal quickly, your campaign becomes more noticeable. Her plan worked.
Above all else, the women encouraged others to remain flexible. The road to success is rocky, sometimes lonely and naturally stressful. You might even come to a point where you have to let go of “non-negotiables” for the greater good of your company. Your business may unfold in a way you didn’t expect. Whatever happens, go with the flow and keep your goals in the forefront.
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