In her early meetings, Colacurcio said that her judgment was based on the defense capabilities of her startup, not her vision for the future. In 2018, Harvard researchers Observed A similar phenomenon: Investors tend to ask men about the potential benefits of their startups, while women ask about their potential losses. As a result, the researchers concluded that startups with male founders raised five times as much capital as female founders.
In the end, Colacurcio met Fern Mandelbaum at Emerson Collective, an impact investment company founded by Laurene Powell Jobs. Mandelbaum has a good track record in investing in women, and he reached the first deal with Syndio. After that, Colacurcio said things got better: “Once you get on the Internet, everything becomes much easier.” Now, the startup has raised a total of $83 million.
Since most of the early fundraising was to get online, many advocates focused on solving the problem of female founders by creating more female venture capital. According to statistics from All Raise, 65% of venture capital firms do not have a female investor in the ranks. For this reason, one of the organization’s goals is to increase the number of women who can actually write checks in venture capital. In 2018, 9% of such venture capitalists were women. Now, it is close to 14%.
Some women in venture capital are dedicated to investing exclusively in female founders. The Women Founders Fund, backed by Melinda French Gates, completed a $57 million financing in July, becoming the largest seed fund specifically for female founders. Anu Duggal, the founding partner of the Women’s Founders Fund, said it aims to support women in their first round of funding when founder bias is most likely. “We all know that if you don’t get it, it will be difficult to build a $1 billion business,” she said. The portfolio includes startups such as Rent the Runway, Maven and Billie, all of which have high valuations. Duggal believes that her women-centered paper “will actually prove that there are equally good returns, if not better returns.”
Some female founders are angry at the idea of becoming part of the “women only” program. “As a woman, I would rather stay away from investors who invest based on gender portfolio goals. I want people to know that I belong to me,” said Jean Yang, founder of Akita Software. Yang raised $4 million in seed funding in 2018, and she believes that many women are good at fundraising — but others are discouraged by statistics or the idea that their gender is a barrier. “If your coach tells you you will lose, what’s the point of the game?”
“Fundraising is not always easy, but I did not attribute any reason to gender,” said Meirav Oren, co-founder of Versatile, a company that uses machine learning and artificial intelligence in construction. Startups. She believes that various prejudices will affect whether investors click on the founder, but the best startups will find a way. Fundraising comes down to knowing how to answer difficult questions, Oren said, especially the “defensive” type of questions that women are more likely to get from investors. “This is very instructive.”
If this is the case, then by teaching more founders the ins and outs of pitching, the gender gap in venture capital funding can be partially reduced. Recently, many mentoring programs and accelerators have emerged to do this. The Alliance of Female Founders runs an accelerator program to help female founders expand their entrepreneurial scale. Google’s startup accelerator this year announced a 10-week program specifically for female founders. As of this year, All Raise provides women with “office hours” to get feedback on their pitching, and has launched a virtual “Training Camp“This year, women will be instructed to conduct the first round of institutional financing. (This material is free for anyone.)