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How Female Founders Can Get More Of The Finance Pie

Female-led start-ups secure less than 1p in every pound of investment capital raised.

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Female-led start-ups secure less than 1p in every pound of investment capital raised.

Opinions

How Female Founders Can Get More Of The Finance Pie

Female-led start-ups secure less than 1p in every pound of investment capital raised.

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It has been shown that women have greater success rates than men when it comes to running a business. Women tend to present a much less risky investment proposition - they under promise, then over deliver.

A recent report from US accelerator Mass Challenge found that for every dollar invested, a company founded by men generated 31 cents – compared to 78 cents produced by start-ups with women on the board.

Despite this, they are not accessing valuable business investment. Along with the findings of the recent VC Treasury-led report (depressing reading), a Pitchbook report, carried out on behalf of the Telegraph newspaper, recently found that businesses with female only founders secured just 1.6 per cent of funding from the male-dominated venture capital industry in 2018.

Working within the investment industry and helping clients secure investment, I’ve seen the block faced by female founders first-hand, largely caused by a lack of female investors and the inherent sexism of the sector.

The issue does seem to be self-perpetuating – a lack of female investors means there is less likelihood of investing in a female founder, especially if the business proposition is aimed at women. Investors are attracted to concepts that they know and understand.

This is potentially why female-focused businesses and products are not getting the investment they need. It is a vicious cycle that isn’t going to change overnight, but we’ve seen signs that it can be broken.

We’ve helped raise £18m in just over two years since I co-founded the business, Raising Partners, with my partner Duncan Di Biase, and many of our clients are female founded start-ups.

A recent equity crowdfunding raise we managed for The Baukjen Group on Crowdcube attracted the highest number of female investors ever on the platform – 77 percent of the investors were women, compared to the average of just 31 percent achieved by other UK companies through crowdfunding.

We may not be able to change the endemic sexism of the business investment sector overnight but there are steps female founders can take to ensure their investment approach has the best chance of success. Here are some of my top tips:

1/ Knowledge is power:

Become knowledgeable about the industry, and then help one another by passing on information and advice to other female-founders. We need to create our own networks to do this. Good advice is invaluable.

2/ Female mentors:

Find other women who have secured funding and don't be afraid to ask them how they did it. If you don't know where to find investors, or what they are looking for, then find someone who does and ask them.

3/ Pitching female-focused products to men:

If you find yourself trying to secure investment for a female-specific product, to an all-male investor pool, focus on the figures. Give them the bottom line – potential market share, opportunity and margins.

4/ Back yourself first:

If you want others to back you with their cold hard cash, you need to back yourself, your business, and your abilities. Women can often be less confident than men and be more likely to suffer from imposter syndrome.

Men tend to ask for more money and provide more optimistic forecasts as to what their business will achieve. A confident attitude is persuasive but be sure to accompany it with accurate figures that you know inside out.

5/ Think about the amount:

It’s important you ask for the right amount of money. Women tend to ask for less than they actually need but this will cause problems in the long term. It’s almost as bad as not going after investment at all.

Helena Murphy is founder of investment consultancy Raising Partners.

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How Female Founders Can Get More Of The Finance Pie

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