Guy Kawasaki, Founder of Alltop.com and previously the Chief Evangelist of Apple, says “Well, what I don’t want is people going away thinking well geez I’m a woman, I won’t get funded. You’re gonna fail!”
How true are Kawasaki’s words! Yet, have women entrepreneurs in India been able to break the famed glass ceiling and get VC’s to fund them? Venture capitalists have always been more reluctant to fund a woman entrepreneur.
They question the commitment from the woman in a situation where family needs more attention. “What if she has a baby tomorrow? “, they ask. Women are primary caregivers in the family, and so their credibility as committed entrepreneurs who will rake in the moolah goes down in a VC’s view.
However, Kawasaki also says “The key is to show them how your product or service will succeed. I’ll tell you I think that most venture capitalists if you were to show how your product will succeed, they won’t care if you are male, female, black, white, brown,…”
What women need to understand is, if they really have a great product or service which will succeed and make money, VC’s will be open to funding them. Now, what about all the apprehensions, you may ask. Here’s where you really need to communicate to the VC that your levels of commitment are going to be no different from that of a man.
KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GETTING INTO
Ask yourself if you know the industry and the market. A thorough understanding of the space is necessary. You need to know if the business can scale and produce returns to the VC. Be prepared with a detailed business plan. Demonstrate effectively when you meet with the VC’s. They need to see that what you are proposing is truly a venture that will give them the returns.
TALK ABOUT YOUR IDEA TO PEOPLE
Don’t be afraid that someone’s going to walk away with your idea and implement it overnight. You need to talk to various experts and continually refine the idea.
NETWORK WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE
Use the gift of communication to the best possible extent. Who you know matters. Join forums where you can meet other entrepreneurs, mentors and experts where you can discuss your idea. Attend relevant conferences where you can meet venture capitalists.
GET THE RIGHT PEOPLE ON BOARD
You may not have the best technical skills, but shrewd business acumen may be your forte. Build a team where skills are complementary. Get the right folks on board.
However, to quote Kawasaki again – “If the CEO doesn’t know her stuff & has to turn to her CTO to do the demo, whose fault is that, that she’s not confident? Especially if the CTO was male. Whose fault is that?”
You need to know enough about your product or service to be able to confidently handle demonstrations with VC’s. There is no point in harping upon it later and calling it gender inequality if you had to pass the ball to your colleague because you didn’t know your stuff.
Above all, adopt the right attitude. There is no need for either a bitchy or a meek attitude. Be confident, have faith in your idea and make and keep commitments. You will definitely be able to find the funds.
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