When, in 2001, a young securities analyst named Danae Ringelmann became upset about how fundamentally unfair she felt the system of financing was, she called her mother. Ringelmann was specifically exercised about the inability of a particular film project to find funding, but her indictment of capital was as true for entrepreneurs as for indie filmmakers. "If you're that upset about it," said her mother (who happened to be an entrepreneur), "go do something about it." Then she said goodbye and hung up.
That act of maternal tough love led Ringelmann a few years later to launch, with two male partners, the crowdfunding pioneer Indiegogo. At a recent Inc. and CNBC conference, she shouted out some of the many entrepreneurs who've funded projects on her platform, praising them as doers who, rather than just complain about a problem, actually try to solve it. Sort of like she does.
"Doing something about it" is a phrase that might recur to you as you read about the women in "The New Face of Funding." In this Inc.com article, editor-at-large Kimberly Weisul spotlights women who have chosen not to complain about the paltry share of venture capital that goes to firms with female leaders (about 18 percent) and instead to fix the problem. One of them is Vicki Saunders, whose startup, SheEO, aims to raise capital from ordinary women (by definition, people outside the usual capital networks) to finance female-led companies. If Ringelmann democratized capital, Saunders and her counterparts plan to feminize it.
You'll find plenty of other female doers if you just look around Inc.com this month. In "Busting Out," contributing editor Liz Welch chronicles the rise of ThirdLove, a bra maker co-founded by former Google exec Heidi Zak. Zak did something about the sorry state of design (antiquated) and fit (merely approximate) of the everyday bra. She joins a group of other women entrepreneurs taking up arms against outdated products in every corner of feminine care. It figures: Unless women entrepreneurs did something about this industry, no one would.
By far, the most driven leader we've profiled this month is Barbara Corcoran. The thing you note immediately in executive editor Kris Frieswick's profile of Corcoran--apart from her uncanny eye for opportunity--is her fierce, unquenchable, chip-on-the-shoulder competitiveness. Indeed, her extraordinary career was ignited by a parting taunt from her former boyfriend and business partner that she was nothing without him. She set out to prove him wrong, and did she ever.
Now, it's true that many, if not most, entrepreneurs hate to come in second. That's not gender; it's just entrepreneurial DNA. But once you meet the women founders in this issue, you're likely to get the impression that there's a whole new class of doers out there who have decided, when it comes to getting funding or making the products that they know better than any man, they're not coming in second any more.