If you have been reading the research about pitch competitions, you know they do not favor women. Why? It's because of a process the venture world uses called "pattern matching." It's similar to the tech version of the definition: investors check a value against a pattern.
In other words, when an investor is judging a founder at a pitch competition, he is assessing her based on a pattern of what he perceives to be an ideal model of a founder.
Investors have learned what the ideal pattern is from other male investors. Statistically, the perceived "successful model" is overwhelmingly white, cisgender, straight, and male in his 20s, 30s or early 40s.
Investors proliferate the "pattern matching" by investing in founders who fit the pattern of previous founders who successfully secured investment.
The cycle repeats itself over, and over, and over. To begin to end a deeply entrenched practice that covertly discriminates against women, Black and Brown founders, we have to:
1 - Raise awareness about “pattern matching” in the startup and investment world.
2 - Teach both experienced and new investors about the ingrained bias that moved only 2% of $330 billion invested into US startups in 2021 into the hands of women founders.
3 - Encourage investors to fund accomplished diverse founders with well thought out business plans and achievable revenue projections in new markets.
4 - Welcome, train, and reward more women at every stage in life to become startup investors.
5 - Create new opportunities and processes for funders to invest more equitably.
The Startup Ladies have created a new system for investors to learn about founders and their growing companies. At our inaugural #InvestInWomenFounders summit on November 30, 2022, our Startup Ladies will be mentored, championed, and interviewed by respected, credible, and proven executives and entrepreneurs.
Our nine interviewers will be modeling their conversations after the great care Oprah takes of her guests in every interview. Their goals are to:
create opportunities for great storytelling,
engage the audience in meaningful conversation with the founder and one another, and
inspire prospective investors to meet one-on-one with the founder to talk about how they can support and invest in their company.
By exposing investors to more than just five minutes of a pitch, we're helping them get to know the founder as a human, leader, and CEO. When credible and proven executives and business owners vouch for them in a public way, this encourages investors to consider the viability of both the founder and the problem they are solving. Doing this within a community that regularly educates new investors provides a setting in which funders are aware of their own biases and are encouraged to think differently about women founders.
When executives and founders of this caliber take the time to mentor and advocate on behalf of these founders, they are most certainly worth paying attention to. Take a look:
Top row L-R:
Elizabeth Conzo-Kershner and her team are responsible for all of the mergers and acquisitions at Delta Faucet Company. As Senior Director of Strategy, Insights, and Advance Analytics, she will be shedding light on how a $2 billion company determines if they should acquire a startup.
Jon Dartt is just an awesome human being! He is a Board member for The Startup Ladies and just retired from Delta Faucet Company as their VP of Sales. Thanks to Jon, this is our third major event with Delta Faucet Company. He treats everyone with dignity and respect and is excited to help women founders startup and scale their business.
Jon Gilman is the founder of Clear Software and sold it to Microsoft last year. This year, he presented at Startup Investing 101 and explained what it was like to sell the company he created, work with investors through the transition, and then become an employee at an enterprise level company. Jon is also an outspoken advocate for mental health.
Middle row L-R:
Kate Maxwell is the Chief Technology Officer for Defense & Intelligence in Microsoft’s Worldwide Public Sector. Maxwell is an accomplished technology leader and strategist with more than 15 years of experience supporting Defense & Intelligence customers around the globe. She is an internationally recognized expert in digital transformation, innovation leadership, and unmanned systems.
Jennifer Pope Baker is the founder of the Women’s Fund at the Central Indiana Community Foundation. The $18 million fund created innovative, transformative, lasting change for women and girls in the Indianapolis area for the last 23 years and continues to grow. She is a renowned advocate and spokesperson for gender equity.
Eric Prugh knows a thing or two about growing a startup. He co-founded PactSafe and sold it to Ironclad. As the GM of the developer platform at Ironclad, he had to know the tech while being able to communicate effectively with potential customers. He is masterful at structuring sales presentations and organizing the content included in them.
Bottom row L-R:
Dr. Nieasha Richardson, DNP has practiced as a Surgical Intensive Care Nurse Practitioner, Occupational Health Nurse Practitioner, Family Practice Nurse Practitioner, Housecall Nurse Practitioner, and Virtual Care Nurse Practitioner. Dr. Richardson, DNP created, and developed the Community ProCare at Home Department of the Community Health Network, in Indianapolis, IN. Dr. Richardson is the owner of Premier Healthcare Consultants. They specialize in assisting hospital systems and medical practices implement Home Based Patient Care Programs (Housecall Practices).
Bob Rodenbeck is a very creative electronic engineer with a big heart! He is a Board member for The Startup Ladies, invented the Brizo touchless faucet during his long career at Delta Faucet Company, and now is an innovation and startup executive.
TJ Wright is the Executive Director of the SpeakEasy and defines himself as a servant leader. He has been a K-12 teacher and served as an administrator in higher education. TJ’s intersectionality and lived experiences have equipped him with the tools necessary to champion equitable paths toward success for students and founders alike.
Our nine seasoned executives and exited founders are so ready to help nine Startup Ladies (pictured above) find funding, clients, and advisors!