Raising money and getting investment for your business can be hard at the best of times, but unfortunately being a female founder can make this even more difficult when compared to male counterparts.
The topic of the gender pay gap, sexism and bias in the business world may seem old fashioned and no longer necessary to many, however, these topics are still very much relevant, and women continue to face these issues in the workplace, especially when it comes to funding their own businesses or finding reliable investors.
Whether it’s facing investors who don't take them seriously or trust them because they're female, or whether it's facing the challenges of our own systems, as bank loan approval rates for women are far lesser than that of men and banks also demand greater collateral from women. Whatever the reason may be, it is time that things changed.
In the most recent roundtable with Food and Drink Heroes and Seedrs, a group of female founders in the Food & Beverage industry discussed their experiences with receiving funding for their businesses, challenges they've faced, lessons they've learnt, and advice they would give to other women looking to make it in the entrepreneurial world.
Delight Mapasure, Co-Founder of K’s Wors, started the conversation by discussing some of the challenges she had faced when trying to receive initial funding, “The rejections that I was getting, were all similar, saying, ‘So if we give you this money as a new startup, you're a mum and you've got young children. What happens if one of the kids falls ill, or if you have to attend to the kids and then you can no longer work’, So they all felt that I was a huge risk to invest in just because I was a mum”
Dafna Bonas, Founder of Indie Bay Snacks, added to this by saying how upsetting it is that people still have these views, “The data supports the fact that female entrepreneurs get it all done and return a better return on investment than their male counterparts on an aggregate basis”
Cherrelle Beckitt, Founder of My Little Foodie, went on to discuss her own experiences with trying to receive funding, saying it took her far longer than she had expected and compared her experience against her husbands, where she found huge differences. “I think for me in the journey of funding, I felt like I was having to do more convincing and legwork.”
Mel Harrison, Co-Founder of Escapism Bar Group, added to this by coming up with a solution to the problems women are facing today when it comes to funding, “I guess the only way to change that status quo is for people like us who have become successful to then become the investors, if there was a way that we could get people like us into that investor realm as well, it might be a way to shatter this glass window”.
Moving on from the challenges faced, the conversation then focused on the best ways to achieve funding, different ways to receive investment, and tips and tricks on how to achieve what you want from fundraising.
Cherrelle Beckitt, Founder of My Little Foodie, advised, “When you're looking for investors, look for people that will essentially follow their money. People that will not want their shares to dilute and will keep following their money through the process essentially, so that you don't end up super oversubscribed with lots of different investors”
Georgia Hussey, Founder of LOKI POKÉ, said that she had gone down the route of government funding rather than investment, “I’ve gotten loans, kind of like assets, which I found pretty easy to do, as we were pretty much a cash business as well, and are self-funded. But, I'm definitely now at the stage where I'm looking for investments that can really scale up how we're growing.”
Katherine Jenner, Co-Founder of Burning Barn Rum, added to the conversation by giving other ways that people can try to get funding, “We won investment through a pitch competition with a local foundation who want to support local entrepreneurs, which is a slightly unconventional route”. Katherine also went on to ask the group for any advice on how they decided which routes to go down in terms of funding and investments.
Laura Riches, Co-Founder of Laylo, answered by saying, “We did a small, initial raise just entirely from angel investors, because we felt like it would be quick, and the second time around we wanted to do a big seed round to gain investment from VC (venture capital). And actually what we found was that we were still getting lots of interest from angels, using angel investments felt like the best option for us as a smaller team, looking to get things done on a quicker time frame.”
Dafna Bonas, Founder of Indie Bay Snacks, agreed, “With angel investors you can pick and choose and turn to them for advice when their experience is relevant and helpful. Our angels have always been happy to jump on a call and help if they can.” Going on to discuss why angel investors may be better than other forms of funding, she continued saying, “I have never, ever heard of a founder who said that VC actually delivers value.”
Kate Towers, Co-Founder of Small & Wild, added that she had gone through the NatWest Accelerator Scheme, which has recently restarted, “As a part of that, you get a nice co-working space, an angel, and a mentor, and I assume other similar accelerator schemes, have those elements too.”
After all of the amazing advice and insights into the funding journeys of these female entrepreneurs, the conversation came to a close discussing the future of female businesswomen and what that might look like.
Lucy Mee, Co-Founder of On the Table, said, “It feels like there are a lot more women making the jump into starting a business. I think the more we do things like this, introducing women to investment and women investing in business, this will play a massive part in the journey of more women coming on board. So I think there are lots of inspiring women around, lots of them are talking and I think that will eventually have a domino effect potentially on more women becoming entrepreneurs.”
Cherrelle Beckitt, Founder of My Little Foodie, concluded by saying, “I really love seeing so many more women starting businesses and actually inspiring and empowering other women to show that actually, you can have it all”
To conclude, it is clear that unfortunately, there are still many challenges women face in the entrepreneurial space, and that funding is particularly high on this list of those challenges. However, what we can take away from this discussion is that, by believing in your business and having the right people around you to support you and your business, your business can skyrocket. Ensuring that you explore your options, and ultimately do what's best for you and your business, there are so many options for you to succeed.
Emily Fitch-Deely, Head of Partnerships at Seedrs, and roundtable host said, “It is no secret that the startup funding landscape can be a challenging one for women, with less than 1p of every £1 from VCs going to female-only founded teams. There is a clear need for change in the industry. It was brilliant to get 13 successful and smart women in one place to discuss the ups, downs and in-betweens of their fundraising journeys so far. I'm excited about the change that can be made when a powerful collective of women come together like this, and I'm looking forward to supporting many of the next stages of their journeys with Seedrs.”