94% Of Female Founders Experience Bias In Fundraising. We Want To Fix It.

Whilst fundraising is challenging for most entrepreneurs, and building a company is hard for all, it can be more so for women. Overcoming implicit bias and breaking into predominantly male venture networks adds to the battle.

To better understand the challenges women face in fundraising, Crunchbase spoke to Lisa Wang, co-founder of SheWorx. Through their series of women-focused leadership events, that connect companies with investors, Lisa found that:

“94% of women surveyed at the SheWorx100 Summit said they have experienced challenges fundraising as a female entrepreneur, from struggling to be taken as seriously as their male partners, ‘getting past the quiet expectation that you [need to] act like a guy,’ or simply ‘arrogant and dismissive’ behavior. Yet when asked how they react, women responded that they simply work harder and move on.”

Photo credit: Kait Ebinger

Here are some of the experiences shared by women attending the SheWorx100 Summit in New York city:

“My ‘favorite’ conversation was back in Jan 2017, after going over the business model and brand overview with a potential investor, he looked at us and said: great business, awesome collection, let me ask my girlfriend about the products and see what she thinks.”

“My partner (male) and I often take fundraising meetings together and at times investors look to him first to lead the conversation even though we are very much partners in this business.”

“I feel that fundraising is always challenging. I am usually the youngest person and only female in each meeting I’m in. Although this situation was normal in my prior career in finance, I was a bit disappointed to encounter it in the NYC start-up community as well. That said, I live and breathe the experiences of my target market every day, and although my product is built for men and women, I believe it will be used by women more. Therefore I can speak to the problem my product is solving very clearly.”

Interestingly, investors said they saw no difference in the way female or male founders pitched and do not think this impacts who gets funding, but all have personally seen gender bias happen.

To bring more exposure to female founded companies that are fundraising, Crunchbase and SheWorx are partnering to address this gap. The New York Summit hosted over 100 female founded companies listed here, who are actively raising seed or early stage venture funding that investors can access.

The next SheWorx100 Summit in San Francisco is hosted on May 10 and London June 7. You can join here!

  • Originally published May 2, 2017