Fundraising is hard. I’ve only ever tried it as a woman, so it’s hard to say for sure whether or not I’d find it easier as a guy. The fact that only 2.3% of venture capital went into female-founded businesses last year (down from 2.8% in 2019) makes me think it might be harder for a woman — or at the very least more demoralising.
The relentless repetition and rejection would be soul-destroying without a bit of humour and a clear perspective on what really matters in life. I don’t always manage it, but I try to find the joy in every interaction and have some fun along the way.
We made the fun little video below to give you an inside look at what it feels like day-to-day. Before you watch it (and I hope you will), I’ll share a more serious but hopefully helpful insight from my own experience of raising £3.4M in angel funding while female:
First, some background: we have a great team and a great product in a massive and massively underserved market (diabetes self-management). We are breaking new ground every day in the development of consumer-centred regulated digital therapeutics. And we have huge potential to dramatically improve life with chronic conditions while significantly reducing healthcare spending.
All that is of course my opinion, but it’s based on several facts. And here’s another opinion based on facts: the vast majority of investors just cannot see someone like me successfully building, leading and growing any business, let alone one I started. None of them would ever say it outright, but the facts (and my experience) speak for themselves.
But I can’t change that right now — I need to raise more capital for my business.
With things as they are, the best advice I’ve gotten is to be brutally honest with myself. Most people aren’t going to invest in my business regardless of who I am. And since I’m a woman, it will be a lot more than most people. That’s a lot of opportunity to waste a lot of time. I’ve got to get them to say “no” as explicitly and quickly as possible, no matter how much it hurts.
And that is much harder than it sounds, but not because of the pain (you get used to it!). Most investors are nice and want to encourage women. Many want to see themselves as someone who might invest in a woman. And I want to see myself as someone who might be invested in. We all hang onto these beliefs that things could and should be better (and someday they will be), but for now all these “might’s” are the killers of so much time and joy.
I promise you: in fundraising, a firm “no” will always bring more joy than a hopeful “maybe”. And it will free up so much precious time for getting to “yes”. I’m grateful to my (male) lead investor, mentor and Board member for helping me see this and accept it.