The estimated reading time for this post is 5 seconds
Video Interview with Marion Carrette CoFounder & CMO Zilok. Marion graduated from ESSEC Business School 1996 with Master of Science in Management (Grande Ecole program) She commenced her career as an account manager at BBDO’s web agency in Paris. In 2000 she founded a web content agency called ECRITO. ECRITO was acquired in 2003 by Angie, a leading corporate communication agency in Paris. She was also Managing Director of Angie’s Interactive Agency. In 2007 she co-founded Zilok.com, the first P2P worldwide marketplace for rental. You can find Zilok on Twitter @Zilok
Transcript follows & video above.
- Could you tell me briefly about your past history in sourcing venture capital?
Yeah for sure. Actually 3 years ago I founded a company called Zilok.com with 2 other partners. Zilok is a marketplace for rental, where anybody can rent or rent out their stuff. From to a baby trolley or even a car. So for Zilok we had to work on 2 diferent rounds of capital raising. Actually we happened to raise twice with the same business owner, Marc Simoncini . Marc is the founder & CEO of Meetic.com. Meetic is the first European dating website.
Yes they’ve done very well. I was in the online dating industry, that’s my background so I did watch Meetic.
Marc is also now one of the most dynamic vcs in France. He created a few months ago Jaina Capital with Eur100m to invest in startups within the next 3 years. So that’s a good one!
Before that at my first company, Ecrito which was a web content agency. I was helped & funded by my first employer who was Loic Le Meur (maybe you know him?) the founder of Seesmic.com. He lives in San Francisco now.
- What personal lessons being a woman have you taken out of your successes &/or failures in that regard?
Actually I don’t really think being a woman had any impact on our capital raising as we were 3 partners & 2 men & a woman. So I think the most important point for a vc is actually the team. The experience & skills of the team & not the sex of the team. I didn’t take any personal lessons from that.
So you didn’t experience any bias, which is really brilliant isn’t it? They were actually looking at your team & your company.
Yeah, that’s the most important.
- What attitudes towards you being female have you noted from venture capitalists when you have been sourcing venture? Was there any acknowledgement at all about you being a woman?(There could be positive things about that as well as negative?)
Yeah usually it was really positive. Women are quite rare in this industry so I think being a woman is being different. You’re the one people really notice & the one they remember. So it’s a good point when talking to vcs because they have to remember you.
So you leveraged that, you used it to your advantage? Fantastic.
Yes but I just had once the feeling that being a woman with one little kid (I have 2 now) but at that time I had one. I had the feeling once that it was a problem because I guess the guy imagined that I would be home one day out of two taking care of my sick baby? But hopefully they know by now?
And how did you deal with that one experience?
We didn’t want to go with them so it was not a problem.
So I guess if he had that bias & that concern it wouldn’t have been a good vc for you to work with?
No I would have said no!
- What qualities do you think women entrepreneurs need specifically for sourcing venture?
I think it’s the same qualities a man would need. I think you need to be strong. You need to be confident. You need to be convinced & really convincing. You have to believe in what you do, for sure. To have a vision & goals for your company & show your ambitions for the project. Nothing really new actually.
Ok so you see that it’s across the board, that all entrepreneurs would need these qualities?
- Do you think that the challenges that women entrepreneurs/startups have historically faced, mean that we will always be under represented sourcing venture?
I don’t really think so. I think we see more & more women entrepreneurs now. We talk a lot about ‘Mompreneurs’ in France now. I think it’s just a question of time. I think there should be more women vcs also. There are not so many in the vc world.
So what you’re saying is that you’re seeing a lot of change with female entrepreneurs coming up & also female venture capitalists which of course will change the game as well. Brilliant, brilliant!
- You are a non-technical CoFounder, do you believe that it is easier for technical women founders to achieve venture funding than non-technical? If so what are your reasons for this?
I think the technical members in a team are one of the most important assets. But also I think technical women would have the same trouble raising capital if she is not well accompanied. Marketing skills are really important in a team & I think are as important as having a technical cofounder. So I don’t think it is much easier for a technical founder to raise capital if she doesn’t have a good team.
So you didn’t experience any disadvantages because you were non-technical because you had a good technical co-founder with you.
- Could you list some of the advantages of gender diversity in a startup? Are there any disadvantages?
I think gender diversity is one of the key to success for me as well as diversity in general. You get to know different points of views. You get different experiences, different reactions. This is the thing that makes the quality of the project. For the disadvantages I think you have to be careful. Because gender diversity can also lead to inside the company.
So there are some disadvantages but generally you see that it’s lots of advantages to have different viewpoints & different skills.
Great, that’s fantastic. Thank you so much. I really do appreciate the time & also your feedback about your past experiences. Thank you so much. Merci beaucoup. Au revoir.