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Recently at the end of a long trek attempting to pitch for funding, I discovered an organisation that supports funding & mentors women, Astia. I am only sorry that it was so late in my journey that I discovered them. In UK & Ireland, I found there was an old boys club when I was sourcing funding. I also found the UK to be a nation of what I termed ‘shop keepers’, having come from a background of manufacturing & trading tangible goods, they are risk averse to technology (more intangible) investments. In Silicon Valley they like to fund locals so it is more like a ‘young boys club’.
Where does that leave women who are often better business minded than men, due to the demand on their natures to be practical? We don’t tend to entertain burning through millions of cash without earning revenue. There are many programs for young geeks to obtain funding for their startups but not so for women entrepreneurs.
In Sharon Vosmek’s blog (CEO of Astia) Astia Notes in a recent post Out of the Loop in Silicon Valley there are some stats:
Women own 40 percent of the private businesses in the United States, according to the Center for Women’s Business Research. But they create only 8 percent of the venture-backed tech start-ups, according to Astia, a nonprofit group that advises female entrepreneurs.That disparity reaches beyond entrepreneurs. Women account for just 6 percent of the chief executives of the top 100 tech companies, and 22 percent of the software engineers at tech companies over all, according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology. And among venture capitalists, the population of financiers who control the purse strings for a majority of tech start-ups, just 14 percent are women, the National Venture Capital Association says.Research indicates that investing in women as tech entrepreneurs is good for the bottom line. Venture-backed start-ups run by women use, on average, 40 percent less capital than start-ups run by men and are increasingly involved in successful initial public offerings of stock, according to a recent white paper by Cindy Padnos, a venture capitalist who compiled data from 100 studies on gender and tech entrepreneurship.
1.Women fear failure and taking risks more so then men.2. There are too few women investors. “Among venture capitalists, the population of financiers who control the purse strings for a majority of tech startups, just 14 percent are women,” according to the New York Times and National Venture Capital Association.3. It’s a male dominated culture that can be hostile at times. It often can feel exclusive rather then inclusive, though some women interviewed feel it’s improving as more open and transparent discussions happen around this issue.4. There’s a lack of mentorships for women and women role models.5. Networking and promoting occur in silos. Women entrepreneurs are not networking enough with investors and the entrepreneur community as well as promoting their names and companies. But VC’s need to do a better job too. They need to make a concerted effort to connect more with women entrepreneurs and become more accessible. How about organizing a series of Reverse-Pitch Parties for women entrepreneurs at SXSW and in different cities?6. We work in a culture that promotes and rewards 70+ hours work weeks and little work/personal life balance.“Men are a lot better at letting ‘perceived failure’ roll off their backs,” said Deborah Schultz, a partner at the Altimeter Group. “There’s a great quote. If women fail, we blame ourselves, if men fail they blame the situation.”While it shouldn’t matter if your wearing men’s shoes or stilettos, the fact remains that over 90% of investor money goes to men (and only 6% of investor money goes to people of color–another big problem). So if investors really want to find that next Twitter or Facebook, perhaps they need to step up and expand their personal networks too.