A note from our founder, Kate:
On Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, I thought I’d take a moment to share a little about my journey as a female founder.
To be honest, on most days, I don’t really walk around thinking about the fact that I’m specifically a “woman entrepreneur”…but there are some moments where I’m deeply reminded of this. Here’s a recent example:
You may or may not know, but female founders are significantly disadvantaged when it comes to funding their startups. Only 2% of VC funding goes to company’s that have only female founders (9% goes to company’s with female and male co-founders). I know these numbers, but for a long time thought maybe they didn’t apply to me, as I’m confident in my background and abilities, and in the business we’re building. However, earlier this year, when we were fundraising for Sun & Swell, the bias some investors have against female founders was made so blatantly apparent to me.
I got introduced to a male investor from a mutual acquaintance. Going into our conversation, the investor knew I had an MBA from Harvard, and years of experience in my industry. My assumption going into the call was that he knew I had a super solid background and was fit to build a startup, and I just had to sell him on the company, potential etc. After he put me on the chopping block for an hour long call, he said - as if it were a compliment - “I have to be honest, I’m really surprised at how smart you are!” I asked why he was surprised… and he said from looking at our website and marketing videos, he just didn’t get that impression. WHAT?! He knew all of my credentials, but from looks alone, his assumption was - I wasn’t that smart.
While moments like this are incredibly frustrating, there are other things I love so much about being a female founder.
To start, I have a fierce network of other female founders. We root for each other, we support each other… and I have developed some amazing friendships through these networks. Most of the female founders in my network I’ve been able to connect with because other larger organizations have programs in place to facilitate connections (e.g, Tory Burch Foundation, Female Founder Collective, PepsiCo Stacy's Rise Project). I realize this is unique to being a female founder, and there really aren’t as many networks like that for men (and the entrepreneurial journey is lonely/scary/crazy for men too).
Additionally, after having my daughter, I’m reminded of how LUCKY I am that I get to be both a mom and a founder. Before I got pregnant with my daughter, I thought “it’s not the right time for kids… we need to keep focusing exclusively on the business.” But then to my surprise, after she was born, I became an even BETTER entrepreneur. I was forced to stop working 16-20 hour days (because I set hard boundaries that mornings / evenings / weekends are for spending time with her)… and what do you know, since making that change - I’m more productive. I’m more efficient. I delegate better….and it’s way easier to avoid burn out when I’m not working literally every waking hour.
I also am grateful for the flexibility that comes with being a mom + entrepreneur….and for the fact that my daughter will grow up watching me lead a business. My hope is that this will help her grow up thinking she CAN, rather than she can’t.
My journey as an entrepreneur looks so different from year to year. But this year in particular, I’m feeling empowered, fortunate, and confident. And by looking around at other women entrepreneurs in my network, I’m inspired and reminded we can do anything! And those little speed bumps might slow us down, but they’ll never stop us!