Navigating fundraising and ownership as a female founder

Last year, over 150,000 new all-women-led companies were founded – more than ever before - but statistics show that over 95% of early-stage funding goes to all-male-founded start-ups. So how do you get ahead of the game as a female founder? Here are some top tips from someone who has done it before.

Navigating fundraising and ownership as a female founder

/ Insight / 27 Mar 2023

Currently, only 5% of leadership positions in tech companies are held by women. Whilst we have come a long way for gender equality, equity remains imbalanced. Raising money is one of the hardest parts of running a business, harder still if you’re faced with gender biases.

At our recent International Women’s Day event, Dr. Olivia Ahn, co-founder and CEO of Fluus – the world’s first flushable sanitary pad – talked about navigating fundraising and ownership as a female founder. Here are her top tips:

Know your audience

Walking into a room full of people who could potentially decide the future validity of your business can be daunting, so it helps to understand your audience. What are they wanting to know? What’s important to them? For example, if you’re pitching to a climate tech fund, focus on the cold hard impact stats your business drives. If it’s a consumer fund, focus on the consumer and acquisition statistics. 

Knowing what drives your audience means you can tailor your pitch to their interests, ensuring a potentially more favourable outcome. 

Don’t give too much away too early

Whilst it’s important to tailor your pitch decks and conversations, don’t give the game away before your first meeting – a short teaser to hook your audience is all you need. Find out what interests your audience and drop them a little bait to get them interested. You can – and should - follow up with more information later.

Use tracking tools like Docusend and WeTransfer so you can see who has engaged with your materials and keep track of who has seen what. From here you can figure out what works and what doesn’t, what follow-up questions they have, what you’re missing and what you can hide away for your ta-da moment later down the road.

Clarity is key

When fundraising, it’s important to succinctly summarise your validated achievements, as well as the key milestones incoming capital will enable you to hit.

It’s important to be realistic and show projections that are aspirational but achievable. Being humble goes a long way, but don’t forget to sell your strengths too. 

Always think one fundraising round ahead

Fundraising is a never-ending project for founders, you’ll always have to be thinking about it. To keep on a successful fundraising track, start talking to Series A investors at the Seed stage, and Series B investors at Series A stage. 

By understanding the milestones each investor wants to see at different stages, you will be better prepared for the road ahead. Building these relationships early is a great way to positively impact and develop your company. 

Don’t just look for capital

Remember to look beyond cold hard cash and optimise for investors who will be able to add value to your business.

Venture Capital (VC) firms and angel investors can unlock so much more for you if you dig a little deeper. Think introduction to new markets, unlocking key suppliers, and expanding the value chain. From introductions, coaching and networking try to build an investor group that can help you achieve milestones across different areas of the business.

Investment is a long game, and you will have to deal with your investors on a regular basis, so only take investment from people you can get on with and whose values and vision match your own.

Not sure of the different funding avenues you could take? Take a read of our blog, exploring the different funding options open to founders here.

Be each other’s advocate

In a world with limited VC funds going to women, we need to advocate and be there for one another. Women supporting women, elevate women.

It’s important to find forums and support structures that support you in your journey, where you can ask questions and seek outside guidance. 

At True, we’ve built a community of like-minded founders, investors and innovators who can learn from each other and grow their businesses together. To join our community, get in touch.

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