Dads, Daughters and Dreams

Less than 10% of venture capitalists are women; only 13% of angel investors are women;  and less than 6% of venture-backed businesses are women-led.

Those are just the numbers.

The stories behind the statistics are even more compelling. There's sometimes anger, but usually it's a makeshift mask for the deep sadness that women feel (and I include myself) as we wonder why our dreams aren't created equally.

Then I arrive home.

Photo credit: Peter Werkman

And it's a given.

My husband dares to me to dream — ever and always.

Rarely am I grateful.

Though I'm becoming more so.

As I meet women who are ready to dare, and the men in their life, frequently the gatekeepers (including the husband) aren't quite there. I remember, oh yes, my husband, is.

My 11 yr-old daughter gets this view of the world too.

Will she want to start and invest in businesses — I don't know: her dreams are her own.

What I do know is that her father, one of the most important gatekeepers in her life, is opening the door to her possibilities.

For that, I am — always and ever — grateful.

To my wonderful husband, and to all door-opening men everywhere — Happy Father's Day!


How are the men in your life teaching you to dream?   Some may be showing you how, some may be making it difficult — there is so much to learn, isn't there?

For more on the topic of investing in women and women investing, see I Look for Women Founders Because It's an Advantage featuring @500 Start-ups' Dave McClure, Racism and Meritocracy by Lean Start-up guru Eric RiesWeekend Imagination Igniters by leadership thinker Wally Bock, and Why Technology Needs Women by Anil Dash.   

What VCs Want: More Lessons from the Shark Tank

Have you ever said or heard said “I'm certain I have a good business idea, but I just can't seem to get it funded.”?  Assuming you've adequately vetted the idea, business plan in hand, your pitch perfected, and still no takers, the idea may not necessarily be bad.  Rather your proposed business doesn't ‘do a job' the money folks, or venture capitalists (VC), want done.

According to Professor Clayton Christensen's jobs-to-be-done
framework (remember Lessons Learned from Katie Couric), whenever a VC invests money, he or she is hiring that investment to do a job for him or her.  It's partly about making money, but it's also about their hiring the business — which is in many ways an extension of their identity — to positively reinforce that identity.

To illustrate my point, let's take another look at the reality show Shark Tank.  Four of the five sharks are men.  Will Ava the Elephant, a children's medicine dispensing product or Plus Size Women's (Start at  Minute 31) clothing appeal to them?  Not so much.

Technology?  Sports?

Take a look at this clip beginning at 31 minutes:  if you are outside of the U.S., click here.

Yup, you got it.

Shark tank ep 10

Throughout the series, the male sharks were shrewd, detached.  Not so in negotiating a deal with JumpForward, a mobile application that prevents college sports recruiting violations.  Robert twirling the pen says everything.  Hiring this deal to make money appears almost secondary.  One nearly wonders
who is the bait.


For women entrepreneurs:
If your business isn't getting funded, maybe you'll need to bootstrap longer.  Or rework the pitch so the VC community sees this as a job they want done; in the ‘outside reality-TV world, 90-95% of VCs are men.

For Male VCs:
Take a look at the deals your peers have dismissed.  There is likely some pay dirt amidst the perceived dross for which you'll pay a lot less; maybe even boost your return-on-investment (ROI).

Venture capital




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