How Founders Challenge the Funding Gap

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The writer is the author of ‘The Reset: Ideas to Change How We Work and Live’

Starting a business may seem like the last thing on anyone’s mind in these times of economic crisis. But that’s why it could be a great time to challenge the status quo and the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. After all, many of the brands we know and love today were born in times like this: MailChimp, Airbnb, and WhatsApp.

Challenges bring new opportunities. Triin Linamagi, founding partner of Sie Ventures (a network of investors supporting the next generation of female-founded unicorns), says, “I think it’s always the best time to be an entrepreneur, because the best ideas are born when consumer needs are changing. You may find gaps in the market that did not exist [in the past] – Before, you didn’t realize it. Learn more about your customers and build with them”.

Linamagi and her co-founder Nicole Velho have just opened applications for their catalyst program to level the playing field for female founders across Europe, and are building an ecosystem where investors can support the next generation of founders . Starting a business is difficult. It’s even more complicated if you don’t have a support network and funding. Sie Ventures is committed to bridging the funding gap for early career women founders.

They aim to bridge the venture capital funding gap and provide investors with better access to founding teams from diverse backgrounds. Although capital in the hands of women has wider societal impacts – women are more likely to spend money to support and invest in the families and communities around them, according to the OECD — the biases that are present when female founders fundraise are well documented. For every £1 of venture capital investment in the UK, all-female founding teams receive less than 1p. All-male founding teams get 89p. Mixed teams get the remaining 10p. Unsurprisingly, founders are already seeing dwindling funding amid an economic downturn, which is hitting black and female founders the hardest. Funding at all levels continues below 2021.

That’s why programs like these are more important than ever. It should be noted that women tend to create start-ups that focus on issues related to real issues such as sustainability, the future of work, access to healthcare and access to finance . Linamagi says these will be the companies of the future: “We believe they will have a stronger societal impact and change the world for the better: creating companies that are much more meaningful, but also more profitable. This is how the world is going right now. »

Sie Ventures launched in early 2021 and has since backed 32 companies, helping them raise over £26m in pre-seed and seed funding. They have Juno, an educational investment platform for Gen Z women; and Jude, a taboo-busting healthcare company around bladder weakness and incontinence.

Besides funding, mental preparation is also crucial. “It’s about understanding what KPIs you need to hit to fundraise,” says Linamagi. “We help them prepare for the first fundraising – looking at financial models and how you pitch your technology, versus how you talk to investors about your future vision. We also try to show them how to what good looks like, and we work with VCs and angels to bring that knowledge to our founders.

With uncertain times in the world, it’s understandable that taking risks in a new endeavor isn’t for everyone. However, I came across a quote on Twitter from last week from author Adam Grant, “If you wait until you feel ready for a new challenge, you may never pursue it at all. Few people suddenly wake up feeling ready to lead or create. Our greatest regrets are not our failures, but our failures to try. Now may be the time to start building something – start small and grow because, after all, every recession eventually ends.

The founders of the future will be fundamentally different. They will be more diverse and more feminine: if you look at the state of the world, it is clear that the world will be better off.

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