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Finding another female-founded tech startup with ambitions to scale in Arizona is like looking for the mythical unicorn, said Vicki Mayo, cofounder of TouchPoint Solution, a wearable technology that reduces the stress response.
So when she heard about Project Entrepreneur’s Summit in Los Angeles, where women entrepreneurs had the chance to connect with one another and workshop their ideas with investors, she jumped for joy. Project Entrepreneur is a partnership between Rent the Runway co-founders Jennifer Hyman and Jenny Fleiss and UBS. Both companies are on a mission: to break traditional barriers women face in growing their companies big.
The financing system for women entrepreneurs is broken. Whether looking for a loan or equity financing, women have a tougher time getting financing than men. But they aren’t sitting idly back, waiting for the system to get fixed. They are coming up with their own solutions. After all, for an entrepreneur, a challenge is an opportunity.
Because it’s Hispanic Heritage Month, I’m focusing on solutions that Latinas are creating to fix the financing system. Two weeks ago, I highlighted Cat Berman’s CNote, which raises money from people who want to get higher interest rates than a bank savings account by investing in Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). CDFIs invest in minority- and women-owned businesses. This week, I highlight Nathalie Molina Niño, CEO of BRAVA Investments, a Berkshire Hathaway-like holding company (holdco). that invests in companies that serve women.
Making money shouldn’t be just for the rich. Catherine Berman, a serial entrepreneur and former managing director at Charles Schwab, wanted to create financial products for everyone, not just the wealthy few. She teamed with Yuliya Tarasava, who had decades of experience creating financial products on Wall Street. Together, they founded CNote.Mike Ivancie
Woman investing via CNote.
They particularly wanted to serve women and millennials, who tend to be “over-savers,” putting a higher proportion of their investment portfolio in savings rather than the stock market, Berman explained. She is CNote’s CEO.
Not everyone ignores women’s innovations. One trade group in the toy industry recognizes that women know what kids — and their parents — want. To encourage innovation, Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment (WIT) provides what entrepreneurs need: access to decision-makers and mentors to help them overcome obstacles.
When diverse perspectives are applied to financing, doors open for entrepreneurs. Last week, I wrote The Next Business Revolution: Diversity and how it fuels innovation and enhances employee engagement. This week, I look at how the diverse makeup of one company has created finance options for innovations that might otherwise never get to market … and why more companies are going to follow their lead.
Entrepreneurial women have been limited in their ability to bring their innovations to market because they are only able to raise about 50% of the capital that men raise.
Cities play a unique and critical role as the breeding grounds for entrepreneurs who start and grow innovative scalable companies that drive economic growth and create jobs, according to research by Richard Florida, Jane Jacobs and Paul Romer. The density of interactions among people, the diversity of people — women, minorities, LGBTQ and immigrants — as well as the tolerance — for new ideas, breaking established norms, ambiguity, pivots and even failure — stimulates and encourages breakthrough ideas.