“So much more that can be done”: What you can do to better support women-led startups


Female Founders Fund co-founder Sutian Dong, co-founder Anu Duggal, and community and platform lead Casey Taylor (L to R). Photographer: Dani Fresh. Source: Female Founders Fund.

My body fat percentage should not be far, far greater than the percentage of overall funding that goes towards female founders and female-led startups.

It’s well documented that female-led startups receive less investment, and it’s undeniably worse for First Nation women and women of colour. In 2020, VC funding in female-led startups was reported to have dropped to 2.3% (from 2019’s lofty heights of 2.8%).

What remains unclear is why — and what the hell we are meant to do about it.

Australia has some amazing grants, accelerator programs, dedicated funds and other mechanisms to support female founders. But there’s so much more that can be done.

Specifically, for B2B female-founded startups, there’s much more that corporate Australia and business leaders can do.

Here’s some of the ways that you, as a business leader, can be a part of this important change.

  • Be available: When a female founder reaches out for customer research or to test an idea, have a chat with her. Help her understand your current reality, pain points and needs. The more she refines the problem that she’s out to solve, the more compelling her investment pitch.

  • Be brave: Early adopters are everything. B2B startups are reliant on those innovative leaders who see ‘what could be’ and know a bold solution when they see it. Often these pilots are super low cost and can put you ahead of the pack. The more runs on the board, the more compelling her investment pitch.

  • Be kind: If you’ve been hoping to work with a female founder but circumstances change, no stress! Just please don’t ghost her. Let her know what has changed (budget, priorities, whatever!) so she can learn more about her customers. The more she deeply understands her customer base, the more compelling her investment pitch.

  • Be loud: If she’s a founder with a solution you believe in, be an advocate. Publicly give your support. Be an advisor. Find opportunities. Make introductions. Provide that testimonial. The more support a female founder has from business leaders, the more compelling her investment pitch.

Around 62% of startups are B2B, so there is no question that business leaders have a role to play. Your action and inaction will define what the future looks like for female founders.

Here’s to those leaders who are already getting behind female-founded startups and the organisations who are paving the path towards investment.

(Note: this advice is obviously also relevant to male-led startups but… you know… 2.3%).

This article was first published on the Werkling website


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