In the high-stakes world of venture capital, where a mere 1.9% of funding went to female founders in 2022, my sister and I spent the better part of 2023 in fundraising mode to accelerate the growth of our whipped cream company, Whipnotic. We knew we had a fight ahead of us to crack this $1.9% ceiling that had taken female entrepreneurs decades of hard work to overcome. Knowing that female founders will be up against these same steep odds in 2024 and for years to come, we wanted to share the lessons we learned in trying to secure funding.
In July, sitting in the movie theater with our daughters, we absorbed the powerful words of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, which struck a familiar chord for us as female entrepreneurs mirroring the type of inner dialogue we’d battled while raising money for the business:
- We must ask for money to support our vision, but we mustn’t be too assertive as to appear impolite or greedy.
- We must look professional and investable, but we mustn’t wear our lucky earrings, lest it look like we don’t need the investment.
- We must NEVER Google female founder fundraising statistics – we do not need THAT dismal distraction; we need focus and grit.
- We must always be grateful that someone is willing to invest in our dream, but we must remember that we are also selling off a piece of our hard work.
- We must have uncomfortable conversations with our family, friends and mentors about asking them for money – but know at the same time…
We knew — and we saw — that the investments from those we love, admire and respect would keep us dedicated, day and night, to achieving success.
So, as you wrestle with your own internal monologue as female founders during the fundraising process, here are three core guiding principles we think you might add to the chorus:
THINK BIG, BUT ACT WITH LASER FOCUS
Entrepreneurs by nature are always in a rush. It’s an internal race to thousands of stores or millions in sales or strong profitability. In today’s environment, it’s paramount to believe (with facts) that a business is scalable, but it’s also critical to focus on the small ways you can get maximum returns in your earliest ways.
ALLOW YOURSELF ONE “SUPERBOWL”
Whether it’s auditioning for a spotlight on a entrepreneurial television show, applying for a prestigious award that seems a bit out of reach or cold calling a bigger brand and asking to participate in a collaboration, find one affordable yet creative stretch opportunity per year that could catapult your brand into new heights and go for it.
TRUST YOUR NETWORK
In your earliest days, your past experience IS your brand. Investors are investing in you, and in their belief that you will survive the hard times, stick with it and overcome. Nearly 80% of our early funding came from past co-workers, employers and friends who knew us, believed in us and were excited to support us.
Lastly, we must surround ourselves with great people that motivate us. We must not confuse our value with our valuation.
We. Must. Fundraise.
Whipnotic is the brainchild of two visionary sisters, flipping the industry on its can with its revolutionary approach to whipped cream now available in more than 1,000 stores. Visit us at Whipnotic.com.
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