March 8 was International Women’s Day, a global celebration of women’s achievements. This time of year is also a period of reflection. Despite impressive milestones, barriers remain for gender parity in business.
According to a recent Forbes article, only 3% of companies with female founders received venture capital in the first two quarters of 2019 — a huge missed opportunity for everyone.
With their unique perspective, women entrepreneurs often develop innovative products or services that solve important problems. Female founders with proof of concept and a scalable business model need funding to capture market share that could amount to billions in revenues, creating jobs and economic prosperity for communities.
A report from Morgan Stanley showed that by not investing in more diverse founders, venture capitalists are leaving $4 trillion on the table. The impact of venture capital funding goes far beyond money. Businesses receiving venture capital benefit from tapping into their investors’ acumen, experience and connections.
With Idaho’s business-friendly climate and rapid growth, many venture capital firms are turning their attention to the Gem State. However, for Idaho women entrepreneurs to leverage these opportunities, they need to understand the venture capital process, master the vernacular, see role models and find mentors and investors.
Female founders face unique challenges as they raise funds from predominantly male investors. First, women need to overcome unconscious bias, since investors tend to work with founders who look like them. Second, if a woman-owned business creates products or services targeted towards women, it can be challenging for male investors to relate to the features and benefits. It’s critical for female founders to articulate how their unique value proposition, team strength, and execution strategy will address a large market opportunity.
Learning how to raise capital for your business is one of the most empowering things you can do as a woman business owner. It will help you develop confidence and challenge you to “think big.” If you’re interested in raising venture capital, there are several resources in the Treasure Valley to help you:
- VentureCapital.org offers educational programs, pitch events and a network of venture professionals providing advice and mentorship.
- Trailhead provides resources to help entrepreneurs at varying stages of their business. Aside from their mentorship network, they often host events such as the upcoming Women’s International Pitch competition on April 30.
- Zions Bank’s Idaho Business Resource Center offers a complimentary monthly class, Inside Secrets to Funding Your Business, that covers venture capital.
Another valuable opportunity is the April 7 conference, Boise WeROC (Women Entrepreneurs Realizing Opportunities for Capital). Attendees will learn the secrets to successful fundraising through interactive panels, live pitches, and accomplished speakers. The keynote address will be provided by Leslie Goldman, general partner and co-founder of The Artemis Fund, the first female-founded venture capital fund in the country.
Women and men can register for Boise WeROC at http://weroc2020boise.eventbrite.com
Karen Appelgren is vice president and director of the Zions Bank Business Resource Center in Boise and can be reached at (208) 501-7449 or [email protected].