In the last decade, the startup world has been gone from a hip post-college alternative to an outright global phenomenon. LA’s rock stars have been pushed off the magazine cover’s in favor of hoodie-sporting college dropouts. The tech world has crept up on New York’s bankers as Apple and Google became the most valuable businesses in the world – and even the fate of Washington D.C. was decided, in part, on Twitter.This world of founders prides itself in pursuing progress, nurturing a meritocracy, and celebrating diversity.
So why does starting or joining a technology business still come with so many traps and challenges to women worldwide?
In starting companies, the numbers aren’t encouraging: only 17% of startups have female founders — which hasn’t changed since 2012.
In fundraising, female founders claim only 19% of seed round funding, 14% of early stage funding, and 8% of late-stage funding.
In workplace safety, stories from Tracy Chou to Susan Fowler show us how much further we have yet to go.
This is as important a time as ever for what has become a global tradition among the Startup Grind family: celebrating Female Founder Month this May.
Across over 100 countries and 230 cities, Startup Grind Directors are hosting the smartest and most ambitious founders, investors, writers, and technologist.Each guest will be an incredible, powerful woman.
This is a campaign that takes all of us, and one partner specifically stood up to help make it possible: Comcast’s commitment to encouraging inclusion in innovation will allow us to support Directors in every city with the resources to make their May event the best experience-event of the year.
You might ask, “can a local event in a small city change global, systemic bias?”
Since our first Female Founder Month four years ago, we’ve been optimistic: we believe occasions such as the Female Founder Month will help make a difference — but not easily, not alone, and not overnight.
We’d love to invite you to join us for one of May’s Female Founder events in your city to see how you can become a little bit more optimistic — and a lot more involved — yourself.
Female Founder Month reminds us that…
The business world should be a safe place for women to compete on the merits of her work and her ideas.
Businesses started and run by women deserve equal and honest consideration for the access of available capital which will allow her to make the biggest impact.
Teams with diverse genders and ethnicities produce better results for a broader base of people.
Read what being a founder means to the women of the Startup Grind community below, tell us what it means to you in the comments and join us at a Startup Grind event near you.
Female Founder Month Events —
May 2nd in Pretoria, South Africa
May 3rd in Stockholm, Sweden
What does it mean to you to be a founder?
Leslie Feinzaig: “To me, I’m just a founder, taking a big swing at a huge opportunity that I’m passionate about. The fact that I am a woman affects how others see me, the assumptions they might make about me, but it doesn’t affect how I see myself.”
Alix Grubel: I love to look back with pride at where we came from — a tiny idea — and see how we have become a thriving, respected business.
Lisa Wang: “My advice to a female founder is no different to my advice to any other founder. Founding a company is one of the hardest endeavors you can undertake and you have to be willing to do whatever it takes because if you don’t do it, nobody will. I expect to see a world in which female founders becoming wildly successful is not an exception, but the rule.”
Christina Kehl: I am a founder and I am a woman — this how I identify myself. We are at the rise of the next industrial revolution. Digitization and technology are about to change the world once and for all — again. Gender discussions are nothing more than a distraction. Entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and courage are the attributes that matter.
May 5th in Nairobi, Kenya
May 8th in Singapore & Silicon Valley
May 9th in Oslo, Rome, and Sacramento
May 10th in Chinisau, Luxembourg & Seattle
Don’t see an event in your city? Start a chapter today.
May 11th in Auckland, Barcelona, Prague, Frankfurt, Gibraltar, Denver & Phoenix
What are some of the challenges you face daily and how do you overcome them?
Christina Kehl: “The biggest challenges you have to face as an entrepreneur are the many dependencies. It’s not just you and your ideas and your energy that will determine your success. Many times we are dependent on people in charge, on institutions. And often enough the people in charge do not keep pace with developments and changes, so entrepreneurs get slowed down or even blocked.”
Alix Grubel: “The thing I find most difficult is when a client isn’t happy — it causes me a lot of stress. Each time we get negative feedback, we immediately try to figure out what went wrong and try to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.”
Lisa Wang: There will always be critics, naysayers, doubters, and haters. Pay them no mind. Formulate your own vision and charge forward with all the energy and tenacity required to turn your dreams into reality. The rest is simply noise.
May 16th in Ft. Lauderdale, Portland & Chicago
May 17th in Cluj-Napoca, Thames Valley, Mexico City, Triangle & Houston
May 18th in Zurich & Boston
What inspires you to do what you do?
Christina Kehl: “Knowing that my work matters is what keeps me going. I have never been money driven. I am committed to a certain cause that I fully believe in.”
Leslie Feinzaig: “I actually love the work itself, and I love to launch products that touch people’s lives for the better. I wake up every morning knowing that what I do matters, my mission is big, and my work is impactful. We should all be so lucky. I’m also motivated by my daughter, even though she doesn’t understand that yet. Kids emulate what you do more than they listen to what you say. The day I found out I was pregnant I decided to become the woman I want my daughter to be: fearless, impactful, constantly learning and taking initiative. I hope one day she will be proud of her mom.”
May 22nd in Columbia, Maryland
May 23rd in Johannesburg & Washington DC
May 24th in Melbourne & Prague
May 25th in Minsk, Edinburgh, Limerick, Buffalo & Charleston
What inspires you to do what you do?
Michele Price: “I find inspiration in helping entrepreneurs learn how to play full-out and win their buyer’s attention. Their success generates a ripple effect in the community.”
Alix Grubel: “I love hiring young people and mentoring them. I often give students their first jobs. I get a kick out of seeing them grow and gain confidence. I also love seeing our products and audience grow and evolve.”
May 30th in Seattle
May 31st in Glasgow, Dublin, Philadelphia, and San Antonio
BY : Neda Morrar