Posts Tagged ‘women investors’
Folks, I am an angel investor in tech startups in the US (Silicon Valley, Seattle, San Diego, Utah and other cities), Europe and India as well as emerging markets. I have been eagerly investing in companies for the last 5 years. To date, in any of these cities/countries, I have ‘rarely’ had a woman investor in the investment forums globally. In fact most of the forums have a few women investors but typically they are not very involved. So, what gives?! Seriously , fellow female investors: Why are women not at the table in investing? Women are a massive ‘buying-power/force’ in the global economy, BUT, not at the investment table.
As a result, most angel groups are men, and VC firms are comprised of ‘male’ investors. More importantly, as over the years the number of women have not increased, the ‘male’ investing community globally has not learned how to work with women investors. When we look at investments, we form due diligence teams. I would love to have a few fellow women investors in these teams but it is extremely rare. And of course, when investments are made, board seats are allocated, which as a result of there not being enough women at the table, the boards are comprised of men. No surprise there! Hence, I am often a solo woman investor and the only woman on the due diligence team and on the board. To make matters worse (this really deserves a blog on its own), the bigger problem that we simply don’t have enough women as startup CEO’s or in startups, period! See the pattern. This is 2012, and I never thought I would be having this conversation.
As a result the environment is not terribly inviting and the pattern gets deeper. Hence I see where Dave McClure is coming from. Frankly, an unreal sight: An all male investment team, investing in an all male startup company…Where the hell has my gender disappeared to? We have enormous talent in women execs, technical and talent across the board. Women CFO’s are phenomenal and totally get finance but are not present at the investment scene. The fact that women are not at the table is not a matter of not having the talent (which women do), but a matter of choice and decision.
A huge contributing factor I have found is that startup investments are all about risk. Huge risk. You place a bet. With that comes uncertainty and the possibility of failure. Women often shy away from financial risk (even women with huge net worth) and the possibility of failure is not comfortable. Fear of failure is much more personal for women (as an investor or startup exec) than it is for men. I believe that this has been a stumbling block for women. Not a matter of intelligence, finances, or capability: A sheer matter of risk-tolerance!
There are some fantastic all female investment forums such as Golden Seeds, Seraph Capital Forum and others, who not only are mostly women investors but have great women participants and do invest quite a bit in women led companies. For me it is critical to change the playing field and integrate. Perhaps part of the problem is that we (women) try to hard to separate into groups. While we have female-centric investment forums, I don’t know of forums that are male-centric. I think that we (women) perhaps separate more than integrate, shy away from intimadation and need to hugely up our risk-tolerance ( if we are inclined to invest) and get in the game. As for barriers, our lack of participation has accentuated the barriers. I look forward for us to play harder and be more at the table. I would love to hear your thoughts!
Folks, this is my blog to ‘disrupt’ common notions of why we don’t have enough women entrepreneurs or angels or VCs. With a huge amount of respect I am going to use my good friend, Vivek’s article (Women and Venture Capital on Inc.com) to disagree with several of his points:
1. We have plenty of women role models. Since last week, I have spoken to brilliant women executives in banking, consulting, publishing and technology in the UK, Canada, the US and India. Sometimes when we throw around the word ‘role model’, it implies we don’t have a lot of successful women, but we do. Is it enough? Hell, No! A handful of Fortune 500 women CEO’s does not suffice, but there are plenty of women doing great work out there. I believe that the work of great women like Shaherose Charania, CEO of Women 2.0, is really helping to raise the bar and the dialog by helping to empower women with the tools needed to succeed.
2. When it comes to getting funded, it is about appetite for risk and absolutely convincing the source of funding, say the angel, VC or other, as to why you believe your company will succeed and your determination and passion should be addictive, unstoppable and infective. Yes, even in light of skepticism and doubt. This is very hard for women! The question we should ask ourselves as women entrepreneurs, is: “ Are we totally committed to the idea? Can we convince the party at the other side of the table?” Or, will we buckle under pressure?
3. Women also shy away from being investors. Globally, I rarely have women investors with me at the table. Why is that? Are we fundamentally comfortable with taking risk and funding risks? Or are we more comfortable with low risk? FYI- this has nothing to do with access to money. Very wealthy women often stay away from investing. Why?
4. So, it would be very easy and convenient as a female to state that the opportunities are not there, the role models are absent, the funding is not there, on and on…BUT, the fact is to succeed we should not view convenience as the path to success, truth is. Hey, I do believe sure there are some totally unenlightened VC’s out there , and some who don’t believe women can be great entrepreneurs. But we will fail if we believe that is the norm.
I am a woman entrepreneur, investor, disruptor and I work around the globe. Once I show unstoppable passion and determination, I find people (male and female) that want to be part of the game. I look for people to inspire me and want to inspire others about the impossible.
So, frankly, folks, I want to change this dialogue. Let’s focus on realizing that women are doing great stuff, help women deal with intimidation/self doubt/ skepticism better. Help women embrace failure and experimentation. Let’s have positive discussions of how to get the impossible done and get things done, and focus less on hashing the outdated, uninspiring dialogue of why as women we have so many obstacles ahead of us!
Steve Jobs had the goal of making a ‘dent’ in universe. I say, women can make a huge dent.
Let’s focus less on all the negative rhetoric of why there is inertia against women. It is uninspiring and unproductive.