As a woman entrepreneur and a woman in tech, I’m often surprised by the number of women who talk to me about how tough it is to get ahead in this world. Let’s not pretend this isn’t an issue. Statistically, tech companies with a female co-founder have secured only 10% of venture funding according to the CrunchBase Women in Venture Report.
I’ve been blessed to have great male role models in my life that have always pushed me to do whatever it is that I want to do. It started with my father and my two brothers who never let me back out of anything just because I was a girl. It was quite the opposite actually. We all played football in the yard and practiced our pitching on the mound lines that my dad painted on the driveway where he would crouch at the painted home plate that’s still on the driveway some 20 years later. It continued in several companies where I was the only female working and not only did I have a seat at the table, it was expected that I contribute.
Even with all of this, sometimes there’s a voice in my head telling me that I won’t be able to do certain things. I know other women have this too and men have it as well. Are men better at tuning this out and going after what they want full speed ahead when they’re seeking funding? Are they not intimidated because they know they have a better chance of securing funding? Man or woman, getting this funding is no easy feat. CB Insights, an organization that compiles private company data, sifted through the numbers and found that only 28% of companies exited through M&A or IPO and only 1% became the coveted “unicorns” of the industry like Airbnb or Slack. The odds are against all of us, despite our gender.
However, self confidence may be part of what’s causing this. A study out of University of California at Davis published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology indicated that there’s a large gap in self confidence between women and men in western industrialized countries such as the US, UK, and Australia. Is this showing up when women are in tech startups and seeking funding? Maybe. Investors are like anyone else in that they can sense low self confidence and that doesn’t give them the confidence that the startup will give them a return on investment. When people walk in and pitch with more self confidence, they instill a feeling of trust which can foster funding opportunities.
What can be done to improve this confidence when pitching? It starts with knowing as much as you can about the investors so you can easily build a rapport that’s natural. From there, the pitch should be practiced in situations as close to the real thing as possible. The art and science of negotiation should be studied and put into practice once in conversations with investors. Women normally don’t negotiate as well as men but armed with knowing this, again, practice can make a big difference. Training is essential in all of this and that’s what we at Imua Services are doing. We’re on a mission to equip and lead 1 million startups by the year 2020 including women in tech. Women’s Entrepreneurship Day is on November 19th, in partnership with the United Nations, 144 countries, and 22 universities. Imua Services is hosting a contest giving away over $20,000 worth of training to celebrate.
The “We Can as Women” contest is open for entry November 1 – 30 and calls for women to share their ideas on how they can make the world a better place through medtech, biotech, and medical device innovation. Entries require a name, email, and to finish the statement We can as women_____ such as: We can as women, stop the spread of malaria in third world countries. Selected winners will be announced on Monday, December 4th and will receive training on how to go from idea to reality starting in December. Imua Services is requesting for people to spread the word about this contest to encourage women’s entrepreneurship, and is calling women all over the world to enter. Enter at http://imua-services.com/wecan