The Rise of Female Entrepreneurs

Let’s talk about female entrepreneurs and how the rise of them is just beginning.

In 2018, the American Mentoring platform SCORE published a report considering female entrepreneurship in which we find out that in the US women-owned enterprises employ approximately 9M people and generate more than $1.6T. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor also covered the topic and pointed out that 126M women now start or run their own business. The rise of female entrepreneurship has been highly pointed out by the media in the last years; more and more debates come to life considering the presence of women in tech, entrepreneurship, and business; this is why we decided to share with you our findings and opinion on the topic.

What’s going on in female entrepreneurship?

Female entrepreneurs are on the rise, the number has increased by 18% in 2017 and today represent 26% of all businesses. The TOP industries where female entrepreneurship is present correspond to health, fitness, retail, beauty, business services, food, cleaning, and maintenance.

59% of women explain starting a business in order to pursue their passion and 42% be their own boss. Despite the growth in female entrepreneurship; we can recognize a strong gender disparity culture and a need for things to evolve.

The Harvard Business School undertook a study where a group of males and a group of females presented the exact same business proposal for investment. The outcome of the experience shows that 39% of investors said they would offer to fund the women in contrast to 68% for the males.

Females in business face strong issues and stereotypes that need to be beaten to the root in order to engage the economic impact and new wave of leadership. Women are underrepresented business leaders; 5% of the CEO in Fortune 500 are female, and only 20% are Fortune 500 board members.

This under-presence is not the only issue; women and males have a huge gap in salaries. The world’s highest CEO pay corresponds to $87.5M for Gregory Maffin the CEO of Library Media against $47.2M for Carol Bartz, ex-CEO of Yahoo.

Let’s not desperate considering the issues that women are facing in business; day by day things are changing. More and more female leaders are empowering the case of women promoting their hard work and impact in society.

What women have to say?

We discussed with Zeynep Demirbilek; the CEO and founder of Service Club to have the point of a view directly from a woman. She points out that in business she doesn’t visualize a difference between women and males. From her point of view, it should not be based on gender but on the individual themselves.

She recognizes that as a woman, there are a lot more compromises and that it can be more complicated. Women have to take care of their career, just like they traditionally take care of the family; she admits admiring the women able to balance the upbringing of kids and the scaling of a business.

She points out that many times, she has been asked if the reason for her success, was being a woman; when the hard work and commitment should be the only recognizable values.

She considers that the presence of women in business will highly influence the future of management due to their abilities to be more considerate, understanding than their male peers. The rise of female in business will increase the use of emotional intelligence in business management.

Female Entrepreneurs in VCs

In the world of VC, females are not present enough. The UK Treasury Report shows that all-female leadership teams have received less than 1p for every £1 of investment in startups. In the US, female VCs are shadowed by the high male presence, only representing 9% of VCs; we can also point out that 74% of US VC Firms are all-men. This huge gender disparity, is, unfortunately, causing a lack of funding in female-founded projects, lacking promotion and empowerment.

However, let’s not be too negative; things are changing step by step by the hard work and development of engaged and dedicated female leaders, empowering women all across the world to believe in themselves and start their company.

Venture Capital firms in the United States for female founders and co-founders have been trending up in recent years; several women-led funds and incubators were launched in 2018 promoting the presence of females in the sector.

Source: Crunchbase

In one of their recent article, Crunchbase mentioned that 7% of partners at the top 100 ventures firms were women and that females held under 12% of the partner roles in accelerators and corporate venture firms.

Based on the data gave by pitchbook.com we know that between 2008 and 2019, the female (co)founded VC deal has increased from 3.3% to 6.1%; and the female (co)founded VC Capital went from 1.7% to 2.2%. The number is trending slowly and raising step by step showing the need for a boost in female presence in Venture Capital.

In a second place, the charts provided by pitchbook.com shows that the deal flow by female co-founded companies increased from $2.2B in 2008 to $16.2B in 2019.

We can recognize promising female-founded startups that raised heavy investment such as:
-Glossier, founded by Emily Weiss raising $192M
-RenttheRunway founded by Jennifer Hymn and Jennifer Fleis raising $321M and Humacyte founded by Laura Niklason, Juliana Blum and Shanna Daki raising $438M

We can also recognize the development of promising female-founded investment firms such as:
-TheJumpFund founded in 2013 BY Stephanie Grove and Kristina Montague investing in 33 projects, with 6 successful exits; BBG ventures founded in 2014 by Susan Lyne investing in 84 projects with 9 exists and Rethink Impact, founded by Jenny Abramson in 2015 investing in 23 projects and 1 current exit.

What can we conclude about that? The VC funding statistics for women are not high, but there are going up step by step. It’s important to recognize the need to empower women in business and engage the economic activity of female entrepreneurship.

More and more role models are empowering women and the future generation of leaders to see their potential and recognize women as important as men in the industry. This week, it is the famous tennis player Serena Williams that revealed a new venture capital ownership; the US tennis superstar launched Serena Ventures promoting diverse leadership, individual empowerment, creativity, and opportunity. This type of role model changes the way women are seen day by day and promotes the economic and business achievement of each one of them.

When asked his opinion on the topic, Albert Domingo the CEO of NextTRet said how important for women it was to grow within all industries and recognized their ability for multi-tasking. He shared with us that after being present for many years in business, he saw the need for women to present themselves more on the venture capital scene. As he mentioned, today in venture capital we see many sharks, people with no compunction that are only going after the power and money. He pointed out that women are recognized for having a deeper emotional intelligence than men and that it could give some variety to future VCs.

Female in Technology

Finally to discuss women in tech, we can point out that they only represent  20% of US’s Tech jobs, when they represent half of the American workforce. However, there has been an increase of 68% of tech businesses founded by women between 1997 and 2014.

Based on the information given by entrepreneur.com we understand that the number of a startup with a least one female increased from 9.5% to 18% between 2009 and 2014.

However, it’s a must to recognize that women are underrepresented, as they encounter only 7% of tech roles in Europe and only 11% of Software Developers roles. 5% of Tech-startups are owned by women, it is going to be critically important to engage the empowerment of women in tech in order to diversify our industries and economies.

We discussed with Adrienne Fanning, the CEO of the founder of Sawyer. She considered having received a lot of support since she arrived in Barcelona three years ago, especially by the Tech and Startup World. She recognizes that sometimes it can be challenging to be a woman in this ‘Boyzy club’. She considers that it’s time today, for women to be given more of a voice in business, VC, and Tech; to be able to spread empowerment, confidence, and the development of projects.

Finally one the last note considering women in tech, Alexis Roig mentioned that there is a lack of promotion within the technology industries for young girls; making tech look ‘for boys’. He considers that females in tech don’t have enough role models to follow and that we must make girls part of it from a very young age. He underlined the great work, done by BSC, promoting technological industries in the educational programs of girls from a very young age.

To conclude, women are taking more and more space on the Business, Tech, and Venture Capital front. They promote new management and a new perspective to business and allow the diversification of our industries. More than ever, it is important to promote the work of women to step by step change our world for a more balanced place. Now more than ever is essential to follow female entrepreneurs.

Doing Business in China — Podcast #27 with Alexis Roig

In itnig’s Podcast #27 Bernat Farrero, CEO at itnig, Jordi Romero, CEO at Factorial and César Migueláñez, Product Director at Factorial speak with Alexis Roig entrepreneur in China about how he got started and the challenges and opportunities he faces on a day to day basis.

Summing up 9 years of living in China in terms of bureaucracy, local partners, recruitment of talented team members, cultural differences and the effects of pollution.

Before moving to Shanghai I was living in France. Little decisions bring you to new places. To me, European culture felt pretty similar once you learn the language. So, after a time in France I was looking for something new, a cultural challenge. And in that sense China, Shanghai really seemed like a personal and professional challenge with huge opportunities for business and technology.

I moved to Shanghai initially working for a French company — and I arrived there without knowing anything. If you have something entrepreneurial in you, China is contagious. It has another rhythm, everybody has another company, side projects. In the first year I started with my own personal project while working at the company.

What kind of projects did you start?

We started out with Food & Beverage products that were innovative at that time. Later I dedicated myself to education, developing collaboration between Europe and China and now lately consulting projects in technological diplomacy. International relation paired with science, innovation and technology.

In general, Chinese don’t cook at home, most people eat out. So we launched a restaurant with mediterranean/ catalan cuisine. Far away from technology, this was a very interesting project.

How do you create business in China?

If you are thinking more about the bureaucratic aspect it’s not easy: As foreigner there is a format to follow, a lot of regulation and norms for taxes and recruitment. These rules for foreigners differ from rules applied to Chinese businesses.

And it’s not just bureaucracy — you need a new approach to everything.

Chinese internet is another world.

You’ll have to think of other ways of doing business — Amazon Web Services, Google Apps, GitHub …. you won’t be able to do business as usual and have to find new ways. When you want to start in China, you’ll need maximum humility and you should look at it as if it were your very first project.

What is the work culture like?

For me as entrepreneur this is probably the hardest challenge. Talent lack, no team work, not much creativity — based in education system. You listen to the teacher but you never question his wisdom. No creativity, no critical thinking, no group work. This education system helps to keep up the system but it also means that China is lacking talent working in new areas of science and technology.

People are only children — this also has an implication on their behavior. In a family there might be six people who are looking after one child, all frustration, aspiration and expectations are focussed on one child. This child receives a look of pressure on what to do in life, whom to marry, where to work, if to buy a house or not…This also affects the way you look at work.

You ask somebody for an opinion — but it’s hard to get an answer.

This is generalizing of course, stereotypes. Now the trend is to bring back Chinese population who left to study abroad, start business or work in laboratory. They know how to move in the Chinese society and have seen the ‘world outside’.

How do you sell in China?

In terms of Internet, the Chinese internet user is very accustomed to buy online. 8 years ago when I arrived to Shanghai, I was surprised! In the subway in the morning everybody around me was buying online through their mobile. At the same time in Europe, we had Amazon but it wasn’t the same thing. I still use my desktop to shop, compare prices and find information about the product looking to buy. And when arriving at the office, the reception was swamped with parcels.

Most Chinese people’s first contact with internet is through the phone. Like in other areas of development, the first product introduced to the market was a phone not a desktop pc.

30 years ago China was a miserable place but now people are dressed with international brand, big cars, use the latest smartphone. The boom of consumer society, deleting the story of the country, religion is the money, the big aspiration is making money, paying a good education for children and finding a high paying job. What’s left of communism is probably only the leading party’s name.

If you are interested in hearing more about starting a business in China, watch the whole podcast on Youtube or listen to it on iTunes.


Listen to our podcast to learn more about Alexis’ adventures in developing businesses in China. Learn more in this Podcast in Spanish on our Youtube channel, listen to it on iTunes or enjoy it through iVoox and subscribe to our newsletter to stay always up to date.

Podcast #24: Itnig’s point of view on Gymforless’ exit

In itnig’s Podcast #23 Bernat Farrero, CEO at itnig and Pau Fernández, CFO at itnig share their point of view on Gymforless’ exit. How did the company start, pivot, live the change of CEO and reach an agreement with Sodexo which lead to the sale of the startup last week.

At itnig every Friday we sit down to talk with interesting people whom we meet throughout the week and we make a podcast (in Spanish) out of our conversations. You can listen to it on iTunes, subscribe to our channel on Youtube or enjoy it through iVoox.

For this Podcast #24 dedicated to the story of Gymforless, Bernat Farrero, CEO at itnig, Pau Fernández, CFO at itnig, César Migueláñez, Product Director at Factorial, Roger Dobaño, Product Manager at Quipu and Bettina Gross, Talent Acquisition at itnig come together to talk about the beginning, the pivots and the exit of Gymforless.

https://upscri.be/5c88ff/

Gymforless started out as a flexible model on how to use gym, directed to final consumer offering fitness tracking. Instead of models like Freeletics or 8fit, whom we have previously spoken about here at itnig, Gymforless focussed its tracking on workouts at the gym.

Guillermo Libre started out with the project and from itnig we supported him in tech development and an initial investment. The work on the b2c segment was very intense and it cost us a lot in marketing and customer acquisition, bringing only small margins.

Transition from daily pass to club, membership

With this panorama, Guillermo made a first pivot from a Daily Pass (pay per use) model to a Club Pass (a subscription) model. It was a hard decision, we were scared leaving something behind that was working and it seemed like a dangerous move.

It’s hard to leave something that is working, even though it’s not your core business.

After all, this was a very important change and from the on the project had a new direction. We were adding more features like rewards to work on churn. However this was only the first of many changes the startup would go through.

Guillermo, founder of the project had to leave the project and move to Madrid. In most cases such a change of CEO in an initial phase is the end of the business. Not in Gymforless’ case. Guillermo knew Oriol, current CEO, from working together in the past and he joined Gymforless to lead the startup through the next adventures. Oriol had extensive experience in Sales and B2B.

Pivot to a new direction — going corporate

The next step for Gymforless was a change in its customer target base. We started acquiring companies and offer gym as benefit for employees. The companies were very receptive to offer these kind of benefits and we soon had a working model. Oriol’s experience in B2B Sales helped this pivot from consumer to corporate business tremendously.

This change made the relationships with the gyms easier as well. Gyms no longer saw us as a threat, or cannibalization of their customers.


Listen to our podcast to learn more about Gymforless’ beginning and exit story. Learn more in this Podcast in Spanish on our Youtube channel, listen to it on iTunes or enjoy it through iVoox and subscribe to our newsletter to stay always up to date.