Female entrepreneurs are about to have their moment. More women are serving as officers of venture-backed companies with successful exits, women-owned businesses are more likely to survive the transition from raw start-up to established company than the average and women-owned or led firms are the fastest growing sector of new venture creation in the U.S. I would like to say that I just had these statistics stored in my brain somewhere but I cannot lie. This information was brought to me by an amazing organization called Women 2.0, a group dedicated to increasing the number of successful female-founded start-ups through a strong network and incredible resources.
Though female entrepreneurs are poised for greatness, there are still a lot of challenges facing women who go down this path. The U.S. Global Entrepreneurship Monitor says that women start ventures with eight times less funding than their male counterparts. Why are women venture funded less than men? Why is it important to hire women in start-ups? Why do women not get sponsors and men do? These are just a few of the many questions this organization is asking and they are getting insightful and real answers from women who are in the trenches.
One of those women in the trenches Women 2.0 talked to recently was our very own CEO, Elaine Kunda. She opened up to 40:20 Vision founder Christina Vuleta about restructuring B5 Media and her many experiences in the world of start-ups. From Elaine:
The greatest challenge in a start-up is staying focused when things aren’t working. Keep your eye on the goal. You can’t stay emotionally tied to something that is not working…and there will be a lot of things not working. You constantly have to step up. You can either cave or make it happen.
Then there are the challenges every start-up faces. Managing cash flow is the scariest because you can’t operate without it. Quite often more cash goes out than comes in. It’s like a renovation. It always takes longer and costs more than you ever plan for.
Another challenge is recognizing the right fit. One person can break a start-up. It’s not what they are doing; it’s what they are not doing. Not everyone is cut out for it even if they think they want to. It’s an entirely different world from the corporate world. It’s not a job… it’s a disruption.
As Elaine said, the start-up environment is “not a job…it’s a disruption.” To have a community of women to reach out to is essential and that is the role Women 2.0 has filled. In addition to smart and insightful content from experts, Women 2.0 also sponsors programs and networking events to help entrepreneurs. For example PITCH is an annual competition for start-ups in beta to gain exposure to investors and valuable feedback for next steps. They also have Founder Friday which is a networking event to promote the creation of new networks among aspiring entrepreneurs, current entrepreneurs and investors in innovative cities around the world. They have held over 30 Founder Friday events in 20 global cities.
The women behind this organization are Shaherose Charania, CEO and Co-Founder, Angie Chang, Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder, Shivani Sopory, Chief Financial Officer and Co-Founder and Baat Enosh, Vice President of Operations. Charania moved from Vancouver to the Bay Area in 2006 with two backpacks and a desire to help entrepreneurs and the rest is history.
Women 2.0 guest blogger Wendy Tan White, founder & CEO of Moonfruit, a simple and powerful, design-led DIY website builder for SMBs, recently wrote, “From what I’m seeing and experiencing first hand in the tech industry, and even in wider business industries, I feel like there’s a real rising opportunity and resonance for women to express their passions and knowledge, creating businesses which lead on a national and international scale.”