Gender Bias Contributes to Blocking Female Founders Out of Investment & Venture Capital. We Need to Fix This.

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Crowdfund Insider | | Feb 20, 2019

women and venture capital - Gender Bias Contributes to Blocking Female Founders Out of Investment & Venture Capital. We Need to Fix This.The world of business equity raising is still dominated by men. Melinda Gates wrote in ReCode back in 2017: 

“We like to think that venture capital is driven by the power of good ideas. But by the numbers, it’s men who have the keys.” 

Gates argued that this was “more to do with historical inequalities than it does with innate ability.”

At the time of Gates’ comments, a U.S. analysis found that just 2% of venture capital finance went to start-ups founded by women, and with women comprising just 9% of the decision-makers at U.S. venture capital firms, the lack of female VC representation seemed a compelling reason as to why. The situation a year on shows no sign of improving.

Recently, a UK VC & Female Founders report for the Treasury discovered that for every £1 of VC investment, all-female founder teams get less than 1p.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liz Truss said it was “incredible” that in 2019 men had a “virtual monopoly on venture capital.”

See:  Meet the women who are making sure blockchain is inclusive

Even within the more disruptive, and arguably progressive, realms of crowdfunding, women are underrepresented – Crowdcube found that only 18% of their funded pitches are led by females or a joint team which includes a female.

As well as being hard to believe in this day and age, this status quo also makes terrible business sense.

Businesses largely led by women do better than male-dominated ones. And this isn’t a new discovery.

Multiple studies have shown this, and just recently, a 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.

Truss says she wants to see more women starting up businesses to “supercharge economic growth”. Whether our economy can be “supercharged” given the uncertain times we face, I’m certain that investing in female-founded or female-led businesses is one of the smartest things investors can do.

Endemic sexism

I understand the raising investment challenges start-ups face, particularly female-led start-ups, because I’ve experienced them first-hand – both in my identity as an entrepreneur in my past business, and now in my investment consultancy role – and I would say there are a few factors at play.

Firstly, investment is not really an industry many women tend to enter. It is viewed as a bit of an old boy’s club and has a reputation for not being female friendly. People don’t tend to want to go to a party that they’ve pointedly not been invited to or where they will be in the minority.

There is also an unhealthy dose of old-fashioned sexism still at play here.

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I’ve been to several board and investor meetings at investment and law firms across the city and on more than one occasion people assumed I was there as the PA or the stand-in receptionist. Not the person presenting in the boardroom to the partners of the firm. I’ve also recently been in an office filled with men whose artwork on the walls included paintings of naked women!

The gender bias of the industry is also causing a vicious circle which is contributing to locking female founders out of investment. There are very few female investors in the UK, and at the same time, investors tend to invest in sectors that they know or intrinsically “get” which makes good, solid sense. Yet if all the investors are male it makes it that much harder for female-led and female-focused businesses to secure investment.

Female-led brilliance

But in the two years of raising £18 million for businesses of all sizes, including those with female founders, I have seen flashes of brilliance from the female-led camp – both in terms of women getting behind investment propositions and in how women are turning the situation to their advantage.

We recently managed The Baukjen Group’s crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube. The brand, built on its premium Isabella Oliver maternity range and its contemporary womenswear offer, is understood by women. Its wife and husband founding team also offers the gender mix which we have found works incredibly powerfully for investors. Their raise achieved the highest number of female investors ever to invest in a company via crowdfunding – 77% of investors were women, compared to an average of 31% (Crowdcube.) It showed that women are ready to invest, and with a more democratic crowdfunding platform, they are able to play a bigger role and respond to brands they believe in.

While a lack of confidence and reticence in their approach to equity raising is holding female founders back, it is also driving them to approach investors with a more thorough and robust style.

See:  Women & Minorities in Regulation Crowdfunding: High Success Rate Despite Low Representation & Lower Funding Levels

We have found in our experience with businesses that women tend to get down to the numbers, hard facts and proof-points much quicker than men when seeking investment. Female founders should play on this trait – especially when pitching a product that male investors wouldn’t intrinsically understand.

When Trinny Woodall pitched her beauty brand to investors, she knew that women would love her brand and would recognise the benefits of her make-up and the pain points it solved. However, looking around the room she recognised that she was pitching a female-focused product to a room full of men. So instead of pitching her product, she pitched purely the numbers, the margins, the market and the size of the opportunity.

In contrast, when we are dealing with an all-male founding team it can take us weeks to cut through the bravado, whereas women often take a more grounded approach – setting forth figures and projections plainly. The irony of this is that women are less likely to pursue investment in the first place, and when they do, are less likely to ask for what they need. This is a problem.

The solution? Education

One of the biggest solutions to the inequality of raising investment is around education. Female founders can be wary of investment because they view it as taking on debt but there are different forms of funding and it’s important to understand what funding actually means for your business. Equity funding is not debt and you won’t owe investors that money. You do have an obligation to do your best and use that funding wisely, with the aim to give a return but if it all goes wrong, investors lose their capital and know the risks involved.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Gender Bias Contributes to Blocking Female Founders Out of Investment & Venture Capital. We Need to Fix This. The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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ATB Financial (Government of Alberta) | May 23, 2019 Crowdfunding and Crowdlending platform Opportunity Notice and Information Organization: ATB Financial Organization Address: Reference Number: AB-2019-03314 Solicitation Number: 20.06 Solicitation Type: Request for Information Posting (MM/dd/yyyy): 05/15/2019 03:49:51 PM Alberta Time Closing (MM/dd/yyyy): 05/31/2019 02:00:59 PM Alberta Time Last Update (MM/dd/yyyy): 05/15/2019 03:49:51 PM Alberta Time Agreement Type: Non-Applicable Region of Opportunity: Open Region of Delivery: Alberta Opportunity Type: Open & Competitive Commodity Codes: T005A: Graphic Design Services - including website Preview the RFI --> here The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org ...
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The Next Web | Radek Zaleski | May 21, 2019 Are Europeans really coming? “The US market is vast. There are a lot of consumers in the US that use outdated technologies, and from that perspective we see huge potential here [in the US],” announced Nicolas Kopp, US CEO of N26, during a panel at Netguru’s Disruption Forum. Over the past few years, the fintech industry has started to prove that it can be a driving force to disrupt the financial services sector. Banks now have serious competition from tech-forward lending companies, transfer startups, personal finance and investment apps, and non-traditional banks. The majority of this activity has come from fintech companies in Europe. Why? See:  Canada’s financial upstarts are lining up behind open banking, but bigger players may need convincing Europe has led the charge in bridging the gap between older banking practices and rapidly advancing consumer technology. Some even estimate that these new challenger companies have taken up to one third (33%) of new revenue across the industry in Europe alone. When compared to the US, the difference is vast – the same report estimates that US fintechs have only captured just over 3% of the new revenue ...
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Financial Post | Bermuda Development Agency Release | May 15, 2019 NEW YORK — Bermuda highlighted its world-respected regulatory and legal framework for fintech business, as a delegation of government and industry experts returned for a second year to “Blockchain Week” in New York for Consensus 2019. Bermuda promoted its pioneering legal & regulatory framework for fintech startups during New York’s Blockchain Week, attending Consensus and an interview with @bloombergradio Premier David Burt, accompanied by Finance Minister Curtis Dickinson and Bermuda Business Development Agency CEO Andy Burrows, led a group of regulatory and industry representatives to the annual three-day midtown conference which attracted 4,500 attendees, including major sponsoring companies such as IBM, Deloitte, Microsoft, Citi, RBC and eBay. Along with a business development team from the BDA were Assistant Financial Secretary Stephen Gift, Chief Fintech Advisor to the Premier Denis Pitcher, and fintech experts from the Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA), Deloitte Bermuda, PwC Bermuda, and global law firms Appleby, Conyers, and Walkers. See:  The Future of Government… in a Digital Age “Events like this are important because they bring a lot of the major players from well-established companies that are going to be the largest companies of the future,” said ...
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Koho Release | May 15, 2019 TORONTO, May 15, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- KOHO announced today that it has closed a $42 million fundraising round led by Portag3 Ventures (“Portag3”), including Greyhound Capital and other strategic investors. The announcement comes as KOHO, a fintech company that offers Canadians an alternative to their traditional banking experience, continues to see rapid growth. In less than two years, KOHO has grown to over 120,000 accounts, moved their HQ to Toronto and released 43 new versions of the app. With over $500 million in annualized transactions and a KOHO card used every 4 seconds, KOHO has built a current account Canadians love (they boast a Net Promoter Score of 80 and App Store rating of 4.8/5 stars). “KOHO’s mission is to restore balance to Canadians by giving them control over their own finances. This new funding is both validation of what we’ve done and a vote of confidence for the work left to do,” said Daniel Eberhard, Founder and CEO of KOHO. Having raised $8 million from Portag3 in their Series-A funding round, KOHO is thrilled to continue the relationship with an investment from Portag3 Ventures LP II. See:  Banks’ Revenue Growth at Risk ...
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NCFA Canada | May 14, 2019 JOIN US ON A STORYTELLING JOURNEY EVERY FRIDAY. Ep31-May 14:  Blockchain Law with Jason Saltzman About this episode: On this episode of the Fintech Friday's Podcast, our host Manseeb Khan sits down with Jason Saltzman partner at Gowlings WLG law firm. They chat about how to make your ICO compliant, Blockchain in law and how to create a business structure.  Enjoy! HOST: Manseeb Khan, Fintech Friday's show host GUEST:  JASON SALTZMAN, Partner, Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP (Linkedin) BIO:  Jason Saltzman is a partner in Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP’s Toronto office practising in corporate finance and securities law, with an emphasis on securities offerings, mergers and acquisitions, private equity and venture capital transactions and regulatory compliance matters.  Jason assists issuers, investment dealers, investment portals and institutional and private investors on complex equity and debt financing transactions, ranging from start-up investments, venture capital and private equity investments, to larger public offerings and project finance.  Jason has taken numerous companies public on the TSX, TSX Venture Exchange and Canadian Securities Exchange by IPO, reverse takeover, capital pool transactions and direct listings. He also advises securities dealers, advisers, investment fund managers and other market participants in connection with their ...
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Forbes | Billy Bambrough | May 13, 2019 Bitcoin has been soaring over the weekend, boosting most major cryptocurrencies including ethereum, litecoin, Ripple's XRP, EOS, and bitcoin cash—and adding some $25 billion to the overall cryptocurrency market capitalization since Friday morning, taking it over $200 billion of the first time this year. The bitcoin price is now trading at a little over $7,000 per bitcoin, after beginning the year at under $4,000, taking the total value of all bitcoins over $124 billion and making up 58% of the broader cryptocurrency market cap. Over the weekend some major bitcoin holders, known as whales, moved a staggering number of the digital tokens, potentially pushing the market higher, with the single biggest whale moving 47,000 bitcoin worth an eye-watering $343 million, according to data from Whale Alert, which tracks big cryptocurrency moves. Bitcoin whales have traded around 100,000 bitcoin over the weekend, with a total value of some $670 million dollars. Most of the bitcoin whales have been moving their holdings out of major cryptocurrency exchanges, with just a few of the biggest transactions over the weekend involving cryptocurrency wallets moving bitcoin to an exchange. Large bitcoin and cryptocurrency transactions can prop up the market, with ...
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Coindesk | Yogita Khatri | May 10, 2019 Figure Technologies, a fintech startup founded by former SoFi CEO Mike Cagney, has closed a $1 billion “uncommitted” line of credit on a blockchain. Investment bank Jefferies and WSFS Financial Corporation, the parent of WSFS Bank, are the project’s participants, Figure announced Thursday. As part of the deal, Jefferies may periodically lend to Figure under a variable funding note, which is secured by Figure’s home equity lines. WSFS Financial is acting as trustee for Jefferies. Lines of credit have a maximum loan amount that can be borrowed as needed, paid back, and borrowed again. Figure’s financing facility is custodied on its own blockchain platform called Provenance, according to the announcement. See:  FaceCoin: Here’s What Facebook Could Build In Blockchain And Cryptocurrency The platform can support “the entire end-to-end financing of loans, from origination to funding to servicing to financing,” said Cagney, adding: “It paves the way for the first securitization on chain, which will demonstrate the massive cost savings, risk reduction and liquidity benefits blockchain delivers.” Brian McGrath, head of the securitized markets group at Jefferies, commented on using the blockchain: “We’ve gained full transparency into the underlying assets, real-time access to loan performance and ...
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PYMNTS | May 6, 2019 The suit can proceed. The news came Thursday (May 2) that, per a ruling in federal court in New York, the State Department of Financial Services can move forward with a suit that looks to derail national bank charters for FinTech companies. Judge Victor Marrero, presiding over the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, said the case can proceed, a ruling that denied a dismissal of the suit requested by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). The New York department had argued that the OCC had stepped beyond its regulatory authority (and is misinterpreting the National Bank Act) when it had offered the “special purpose” charter in the middle of last year. The judge ruled that “such dramatic disruption of federal state relationships in the banking industry occasioned by a federal regulatory agency lends weight to the argument that it represents exercise of authority that exceeds what Congress may have contemplated in passing the NBA . Indeed, if DFS’ characterization of the impact is accurate – which the Court assumes, given the posture of this order … the OCC’s reading is not so much an ‘interpretation’ as ‘a fundamental ...
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Investment Executive | James Langton | May 7, 2019 Initial coin offerings (ICOs) can be an effective approach to start-up financing, argues a paper from the Bank of Canada. A new staff working paper from the central bank examined the ICO phenomenon that has emerged in recent years as a way for fledgling companies to secure early-stage financing. While the approach has attracted a fair amount of negative attention amid reports of failed and fraudulent offerings, the paper found that it can actually be the ideal way to fund a company in certain circumstances. Specifically, the paper looked at how the ICO structure impacts the incentives of entrepreneurs, compared with traditional debt and equity financing, and concluded that it can be the better way to finance a company. “Our results show that ICOs can have beneficial economic properties when compared with conventional financing strategies,” it said. “For certain projects, ICO financing generates a higher net present value than conventional modes of financing and is sometimes the only profitable form of financing.” According to the paper, the essential factor is that returns to ICO investors be based on a project’s sales revenue, rather than profits. See:  TokenFunder announces Canada’s first Security ...
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Coindesk | Nikhilesh De | May 7, 2019 Hackers stole more than 7,000 bitcoin from crypto exchange Binance, the world’s largest by volume, the startup reported Tuesday. Binance announced that a “large scale security breach” was discovered earlier on May 7, finding that malicious actors were able to access user API keys, two-factor authentication codes and “potentially other info,” the exchange’s CEO, Changpeng Zhao, said in a letter. As a result, they were able to withdraw roughly $41 million in bitcoin from the exchange, according to a transaction published in the security notice. The disclosure comes hours after Zhao tweeted that the exchange was undertaking “some unscheduled server maintenance,” writing that “funds are #safu.” After the disclosure announcement, Zhao tweeted that the exchange would “provide a more detailed update shortly.” See:  Binance Coin Burn Is Around The Corner – How The Coin Burn Works The exchange may not yet have identified all impacted accounts, he said. And according to Binance’s statement, the breach only impacted Binance’s hot wallet, which contains roughly 2 percent of the exchange’s total bitcoin holdings. “All of our other wallets are secure and unharmed,” he said, adding: “The hackers had the patience to wait, and execute ...
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