Female Founder Advice

I regularly work with female entrepreneurs and founders to help them launch and grow their businesses.  Women can often face unique challenges as they look to scale their companies, particularly when it comes to seeking funding from venture capital firms, which are often male-dominated and focused on specific industry verticals.  It has been exciting to see the emergence of so many alternative funding sources becoming available to support and grow women-founded businesses.  Here are some insights from a recent SheWorx event organized by Lisa Wang, who has also created a Fundraising Bootcamp, where she interviewed Meghan Cross Breeden of Amplifyher Ventures Partner.  Here are some highlights from their discussion.

Amplifyher Ventures focuses primarily on female-founded businesses by investing in data-driven brands, digital health and new forms of information delivery.  Early stage investments are typically in the range of $150,000 to $300,000, with follow-on rounds at later stages in larger amounts.  They will often seek “information rights”, which give them the ability to receive quarterly updates on sales and financial milestones.

“LISTEN TO WHAT YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE SAYING AND WHO THEY ARE.”

ADVICE ON MARKETING:

  • Scalability can happen by marketing through community. 
  • Your brand needs a clear voice and engaged following. 
  • The most successful tech companies use digital marketing strategically and affordably to test where customers are.
  • Focus on visibility, conversion through sales and relying on customers as supporters.
  • See how you can use real-time feedback to listen and adapt to user needs – it can create opportunities to evolve new products. 

Meghan Cross Breeden, AmplifyHer Ventures 

Cross Breeden identified several important qualities that Amplifyher typically looks for in their portfolio investments.

THE MOST SUCCESSFUL FOUNDERS ARE

  • Passionate about the problem they are trying to solve
  • Have prior knowledge and industry expertise which gives them a competitive advantage 
  • Open and humble to accepting new information 
  • Resourceful and scrappy – they are skillful in how they put funding and outside capital to use
  • Able to sell the dream – the CEO’s ability to hire and retain talent is often a function of how well they can share an inspiring vision to get staff on board  

COMMON CHALLENGES FOUNDERS FACE

  • Having to educate investors
  • Telling your story and explain it in simple terms so it resonates
  • Prioritizing resources and knowing when to bring a co-founder or hire technologists (this is becoming less critical now with Amazon Web Services and G-Suite)

TOP 3 ELEMENTS FOR EVALUATING AN INVESTMENT

  1. MARKET: What’s the overall size?  Is there a fit?  This means that the product features are desirable and there’s a willingness to pay for the marginal benefit they provide.  There is sufficient accessibility to make it worthwhile.
  2. MANAGEMENT: Do they have the best team?
  3. PRODUCT: Is it viable?  Can it grow?  Do you have some kind of MVP (Minimum Viable Product) that has a mock-up of the design and some customer data points.

For some more information on venture capital firms that are funding female founders check out this article on Forbes and this list of 30 top angel and VC funds for women entrepreneurs from Startup Funding.

 

Ultimately many startup and company challenges have similar common denominators:

“ALL PROBLEMS ARE PEOPLE PROBLEMS” 

Lisa Wang, CEO, SheWorx

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