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The Pitch…and Beyond

Last week, everybody got low, low, low thinking about how damn hard it is for female founders to obtain venture capital.

The figures don’t paint a pretty picture.

As promised, this week we’re bringing you some strategies and alternatives to the ordeal of the VC pitch.

When Your Heart is Set on VC

So you want venture capital. You’ve obsessed about it, run the numbers, talked to your mentors, and decided you really really want venture capital. How the heck do you get it?

Figure out your best shots, where you will put the most energy. Look for industry leaders, big players where you’re located, firms that have already funded businesses that align with/work like/present like yours. Attend pitch slams. Network like a crazy person.

It might increase your odds to filter for firms that have established and stated missions to fund women-led companies and/or undercapitalized groups (e.g., companies founded by people of color or members of the LGBTQ community). There are a lot of them…here are a few (and just to be clear, we’re not recommending any specific firms, just providing information).

Built by Girls Ventures

JaneVC

Founders First Capital Partners, LLC

Reach Capital

Backstage Capital

Make that Pitch!

So what should your pitch include? Google turns up only about 4.2 million articles on this topic, so we’ll deep dive here (kidding!). Let’s just cover the big three:

  1. Know your numbers. Sounds obvious, but know them. Inside and out. Not just what your CFO or accountant tells you, but understand what they mean and how you can move them.
  2. Know your room. Prepare yourself for each person in attendance so you can tailor the discussion accordingly.
  3. BE YOU. Authenticity is key.

Something Else to Consider

Another avenue down which to chase venture capital may turn out to be a huge boon to female founders. Some investment firms are using artificial intelligence to remove unconscious (and conscious) biases from the decision-making process…sort of the anti-pitch. Seeking consideration for capital via the AI angle could be a great alternative for female-founded companies. And artificial intelligence can also act as matchmaker, identifying promising companies and introducing them to suitable investors.

Here’s a Fast Company article that explains how one accelerator created an AI platform to identify best bets. And Francesco Corea put together a list of data-driven VCs in this Forbes article.

If you’re sure venture capital is the way you want to take your business, know you’re in for an adventure. And like the Girl Scouts say, “Be prepared.” (Yes, that is the Girl Scout motto too.) Do your homework, consider many options, focus in, and own it. Go in with all the confidence in the world…and know your numbers inside and out! 

Erika Szychowski

Erika Szychowski is the CEO/Founder of Good Zebra and the Founder of The F Project, a social impact project to raise the profile of female founders through collaborative commerce.
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