Raising money is catastrophically challenging for female founders – TechCrunch

“Funding is a catastrophic challenge for foundations, and even more difficult for black female founders.”

It’s a bold statement, even surprising – one I made in a recent discussion to speculate about what’s coming in 2022 for leading women in startups, like myself.

As one of the few black CEOs in the developer tool space, I am often asked to comment on the big and collective social issues centered around technology. There is a lot to bear, but I recognize the value to all of us in raising these issues, and my voice, when I can. However, while I’d like to be able to provide definitive answers, I have a lot of questions.

Technological Innovation

In the world of technology, we are thirsty to be a part of the next digital product that takes advantage of first mover status and shapes what’s to come in the industry. This is especially important in relation to the search for capital. And while we’ve seen some pretty impressive shifts in the developer tools space, with venture capital-backed funding to follow, sometimes I’m afraid we run the risk of confusing technological growth with the social progress we really need. Women are still behind. why?

There are some great developer founders, like Jeli’s Nora Jones, Window Snyder from Thistle Technologies, Edith Harbaugh from Launch Darkly, and Jean Yang from Akita Software, to name a few. There are also some amazing female angels and VCs. These are the women I look up to as industry leaders – overcoming barriers to donating or seeking funding while staying true to their identity.

Limited partners should support more female venture capital, and funds should offer women the same benefits and exposure as men. Shania Levine

Despite those trying to make a name for ourselves in dev tools, the reality is that the dev space is mostly led by white men. For those of us who don’t meet the criteria for gender and race, thriving simply requires more attention to detail, energy, and time than is often sustainable.

We need to set the bar, and acknowledge the current ways in which women must struggle to thrive. We need to ask some tough questions.

The struggle must be taken seriously

We want to be able to collect donations from other people who are just like us, right? But many female investors are fighting it just as seriously being taken as seriously as the female founders they want to support. If we were all faced with the same social constraint – struggling to prove our legitimacy – then perhaps we would maintain the same risk aversion.

This leads to an annulment cycle where female investors take less risk, particularly in terms of investing in institutions, and receive less money than their male counterparts. How can we break this cycle?

Limited partners should support more female venture capital, and funds should offer women the same benefits and exposure as men. Women venture capitalists should be promoted into partnerships, where they will be able to write meaningful checks quickly.

I have personally witnessed the extraordinary results of empowered female angels and venture capitalists reaching out to support institutions; Society and the sense of brotherhood they inspire have the power to transform the industry. This is what we need to stick to and expand on.

The struggle to overcome inherent psychological barriers

Today, it is widely believed that women are less aggressive in the process of confirming the round, whether as institutions or venture capital. As a founder, I’ve been told that their male counterparts are able to put in more money and faster – women seem to be more risk averse, often progressing slower through the process and asking for less.

So, what causes the standoff among women? Probably the most obvious answer is: We do, in fact, run a higher risk of being rejected in the financing process. We also tend to have fewer connections to the venture capital community, where the ‘venture capital rules’ – what to do, say, and how to act – are confusing and counterintuitive. Nothing like clear instructions about writing a good piece of code.

fight numbers

Imagine you have 1,000 potential investors and only 10% of them focus on companies that offer technologies like yours. After that, only 2% of them invest in companies in your stage and 5% of them share the same philosophies as you – and you only have access to another percentage of them. Now, imagine you’re entering into these discussions on the grounds that we are ultimately people who come forward, so you have to “click” in a very short interaction often.

You will be committed to working with this investor for the next decade or more. So, while you’re trying to get a sense of the numbers – the odds are against you – you’re also trying to learn about the venture capital firm’s history, personality, and views. How were they burned before? Can we empathize with their past business and assure them that our business is a worthwhile investment…all in 30 minutes or less?

So, how can women successfully struggle with finances?

The simple answer: We can’t do it alone. Like most professional endeavors, the search for funding is ideally supported by a social network. Although I wish I could say that women have essentially everything they need to stand out in the world of venture capital, I believe we need allies and support that transcend core networks and span between gender and race.

We need everyone with a stake in the game to join the fight for women, focusing on the challenges women of color face. We must acknowledge the potential risk that institutions and business investors may be exposed to from a survival mindset and provide them with the guidance and guidance they need to enter into the funding discussions that are being practiced and the willingness and ability to speak on behalf of a more powerful company.

Simply said, we need to trust the ability and potential of women on both sides of the bargain, without restrictions.

And so, my final question to founders and investors everywhere: Are you ready to join our fight?

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