According to National Association of Women Business Owners, $1.5 trillion sales were generated by more than 9.4 million women-owned businesses. This demonstrates that a large fraction of the world’s economy is dependent on women’s efforts and vision. However, these women still face problems in when it comes to starting their own businesses and securing funding.
In 2017, only 17% of startups had a female founder. Funding is one of the biggest reasons women feel deterred from launching the business of their dreams. If you’ve founded a great startup and are still facing financial difficulties, there are other options. It’s important women don’t feel pigeonholed into taking out hefty loans with high interest rates, or shelving their projects altogether. Here are three popular ways to get funds for your startup venture:
1) Participate In an Accelerator or Incubator Program
So you’ve fine-tuned your product, chose the best hosting plan for your website, designed the perfect landing page to best convey your brand, and ignited interest from potential customers. Now what?
Now it’s time to look into programs that can help you take your efforts a step further. Startup accelerators and incubators are programs designed to help jumpstart businesses. Typically, these programs provide startups with initial funding, but the real value lies in the mentorship and structure that they afford. Entrepreneurs will attend a series of networking events and meet weekly with industry-insiders who can make powerful introductions and provide game-changing advice. Most of these programs also end in a “Demo Day” where startups pitch their businesses to a room full of willing investors.
Many of the companies and brands you know well were started with the help of accelerators and incubators, including Airbnb and Dropbox. Accelerators and incubators programs are currently helping hundreds of women to fulfill their dreams. Here are a few women-focus programs to look into:
Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator
This four-month program offers hands-on help and seed investments between $25-50,000.
This program has worked for big companies like Spotify and Uber. It offers a 10-week accelerator program and bridges the gap between culture and technology.
This is a 12-week accelerator program, and it can help you with access to education, office space, mentorship and seed funding.
Though these cater to women, you shouldn’t feel limited to women-only programs. There are dozens of coed programs that focus on building up the best startups, regardless of gender. What’s most important is that you do your research and make a list of programs that are best suited for your business.
When conducting research, take a look at other startups they’ve accepted into the program and look for commonalities in those and your own. Lastly, you can also look into industry-specific incubators that focus exclusively on your space, like Chobani’s incubator for businesses in the food industry.
2) Join Programs and Networking Events
Another way to get funding for your startup is to join program or networking events. These networking events allow you to meet with potential investors or connect with people who can make those introductions happen. It also allows you to make connections with other business owners who can be helpful peers as you build you your business.
Ladies Who Launch is one example of a platform that provides resources specifically for women entrepreneurs. Every year, they host hundreds of workshops and free events to help empower women business owners. 37 Angels is another early stage investment resource. It’s comprised of a network of women who invest in several women-founded companies bi-monthly.
All over the world, there are plenty of other conferences for women across dozens of industries. This includes WECode, an event that brings women together to share ideas and conversations on technology and innovation, and Women In Silicon Valley, one of the largest conferences in the world catering to women in the startup community (which includes workshops and panel discussions for successful female entrepreneurs).
AngelList can be a great sounding platform for you to secure funding for your entrepreneurial venture. There are ample opportunities to startups in all stages to connect with investors and various influencers in your industry. The first thing you’ll want to do is create a well-polished profile for your business.
Refrain from simply transitioning your pitch deck onto your AngelList page. AngelList serves many different audiences (potential recruits, investors, partners, etc.), and you need to be able to appeal to all of them. Do a little research here. Take a look at the profiles of major brands to see how they’re conveying their message. Check out others in your industry, too.
Begin by making a list of AngelList investors that are most applicable to your business. Avoid simply shooting for the best investors found in online lists. It’s not uncommon for these investors to be bogged down by messages from startup founders. Sometimes, finding the perfect, lesser known investor who focuses on your niche will work much better and easier.
You can also use this platform to ask current investors or advisors you know to “make an introduction” to other investors on the platform. This makes your business appear much more credible, and increases the chances of initiating a conversation.