(Fund)Raising 🙌 Women on International Women’s Day

A month ago, we started fundraising for Hiphops. I have raised funds for companies before, but raising funds for your company is something completely different.

A month ago, we started fundraising for Hiphops. I have raised funds for companies before, but raising funds for your company is something completely different. For perhaps the first time I was pitching for myself, and the stakes felt much higher. It was not just a case of selling the idea of the business, but also the idea that I am the right person, that the team are the right people to deliver it.

Since February, we have had a lot of meetings with a lot of VCs. It has been exciting, challenging and has helped us understand the actual (vast!) potential of Hiphops and the journey ahead of us. The VCs have been incredible, inspiring and supportive, but it has been impossible to ignore the general absence of women at the majority of these meetings. Of course, we have seen a positive shift towards more investment in female founders and an increasing number of women in VC, but there is a lot of work to be done.

Women and intersectional founders are still receiving less capital than their male counterparts. We see this reflected in the funding data, Pitchbook analysis showed that just 13% of all capital raised in Europe over the past five years went to companies with female founders.

This years #internationalwomensday theme is #breakingthebias . Part of the challenge women experience during fundraising are the implicit and explicit biases. Whether that is the confidence gender gap, where women tend to undervalue themselves compared to men and come across as “less sure of themselves” to potential investors, or the types of questions women are asked during a pitch. Women are more likely to be asked “prevention” questions, covering potential risks and losses, while men are asked “promotion” questions that are related to their ambitions and achievements.

So, how can we break this bias and what have I learnt as a female founder:

☝️ VC investment is much more than the money. How can they help you grow your company? Whether that is with hiring support or business development.

⚡ Fundraising tests how much you really believe in what you are creating. If you can continue to enthusiastically describe the problem and explain, with passion, how you are building the solution then you are onto a winner, even if you can’t convince everyone.

🙉 If they don’t listen when you pitch, they are definitely not going to listen to you later.

❓ The questions you ask matter as much as the questions you answer. I had to get over my reluctance of asking for more, whether that was more information, support or investment.

🤗 Get yourself some co-founders and a VC that believes in you, because sometimes you won’t, and at that point you need a cheerleader. Thanks Tom Manterfield & Yang Li!

And, in case you are interested, this woman has got funding! Funding from VCs that have a record of investing in #femalefounder, who are challenging, supportive and empathetic. Super exciting details, will be shared very soon!

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Michelle Arnold

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