Whether you look at hard numbers or personal anecdotes, the same truth emerges — raising money as a female founder is difficult. Women entrepreneurs receive a minuscule (but growing) fraction of funding from a mostly male pool of investors and many tell tales of double standards, misunderstandings, and sometimes outright sexism.
But, of course, all that doesn't stop many amazing female entrepreneurs from impressing VCs and bagging the cash they need to grow their businesses anyway. While the realities around women and investment may be changing at what sometimes feels like a glacial pace, there's plenty that individual female founders can do right now to get around the roadblocks and biases that remain.
No one knows this better than prominent angel investor Joanne Wilson, who focuses on supporting female-led businesses. On her blog Gotham Gal recently she conceded that “it is harder for women to raise money” (“it pisses me off,” she commented), before going on to offer her tips for how to manage the challenges of fundraising while female. They include:
1. Keep it short
“Don't ramble,” Wilson advises. “State the facts. There is nothing wrong with a pause in the room.”
2. Take the room's temperature
Have the boldness to cut your losses when a pitch is falling flat and really engage when you sense it's hitting its mark. “If you feel the temperature in the room is lukewarm, then wrap it up. No need to waste your time or theirs. If you feel the love in the room then engage the investors like they are old friends talking about your business,” Wilson suggests.
3. Never apologize
“So what if the product isn't perfect, the deck isn't perfect. Guess what.. only you think that.”
4. Keep your cards close
Creating a little bit of mystery around who else you're speaking with can help your pitch, according to Wilson. “Don't share who else you are talking to unless of course this is super early and you are hoping for as many angels as possible to come in. If you have investors starting to do diligence then share that but don't share names. It pushes a sense of urgency into the conversation. It makes you the master of the game,” she explains.
5. Bring a man with you
Is this bit of advice a sad commentary on the sorry state of affairs around gender in the startup world? Of course it is, but the truth is bringing along any senior men on your team will increase your chances of securing funding. “I am hoping that in the future I will tell men that bringing a woman with you is key,” Wilson adds.
Check out her complete post for more tips.