Editor’s note: this guest post is written by Nina Robinson, ICA Portfolio Manager.
Last month, I had the opportunity to represent ICA at the We Own It Summit in New York City. Founded in 2010, We Own It is a ten-year project and convening of entrepreneurs, investors, and leaders of organizations that are solving towards solutions to increase the participation of women in high-growth entrepreneurship.
I was surrounded by so many accomplished and inspiring women, and in hearing such similar stories, these were my five key takeaways:
1. Just Do It. Female entrepreneurs often outdo male counterparts when it comes to researching, planning and vetting business ventures—so much so that they forget to execute! Just do it, fall down, get back up, and do it again.
2. Money Talks. Investors will invest in people and businesses that they like and understand. Without female representation in key investor positions, women entrepreneurs often get over-looked or misunderstood by male investors. Though, as we’ve seen in recent headlines at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, representation is not enough. A supportive & women-friendly workplace is necessary to really push the needle forward.
3. Bridging the Confidence Gap. Women are less likely to make “the ask”. Whether that ask is for capital from family, friends or institutional investors or simply demanding a workplace culture that supports the balance of career and family responsibilities. As this Tech Crunch article suggests, women run the Internet and we often get in our own way. Make the ask, surrender to the outcome, and Own It!
4. Tell our Stories, Show our Faces. Judging by most of the press on entrepreneurs, you would think that all founders look like Steve Jobs & Mark Zuckerberg. Highlighting women entrepreneurs in the media garners more support and provides role models to aspiring girl and women entrepreneurs. I had the great opportunity to meet Karin Kamp who presented The Story Exchange, a video project that is telling the inspiring stories of female entrepreneurs across the globe.
5. Leverage Your Audience. This convening was productive because every session was focused on a measurable outcome or goal. With such an impressive representation of female entrepreneurs, investors and their supporters, it was valuable to access the collective wisdom in the room. One goal identified for next year: include men in the conversation and aim for 50% of next year’s attendees to be men working alongside women towards solutions.
Currently, 73% of the companies in ICA’s Portfolio are owned by women. We recognize that women entrepreneurs are our best growth opportunity, and we will continue to go the extra mile to serve them.
If you can benefit from ICA’s pro bono business resources, click this link, answer a few quick questions and we’ll contact you soon to see how ICA can help.