Starting a business can be daunting, especially the financing aspect. However, this should not deter you from realizing your dream of becoming a business owner. You can simply look for investors but that, too, can be exhausting if not done strategically.
An excerpt of an article by Elisa Miller-Out of Women 2.0 (W2), New York, answers some critical questions on what investors look for in a startup.
W2: WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR IN A STARTUP?
Proof of product market fit. There are plenty of great companies built on spec, but I prefer to work with the founders who have deep domain know-how and as a result understand the nuances of the fields they plan to shake up.
W2: WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN WHO ARE LOOKING TO GET MORE INVOLVED IN THE ANGEL OR VENTURE INVESTING SPACE?
Build a diligence network and leverage it wisely. There is no better way to analyze a company than by listening to close contacts with relevant domain expertise reveal their candid thoughts, and then synthesize those thoughts into an investment thesis. For instance, any time I look at an investment opportunity in healthcare IT and infrastructure, I discuss it with my friends who are doctors to determine whether it’s a needed problem-solver, a nice to have, or a logistical nightmare to onboard and implement. And any time I’m looking at a new AdTech play, I’ll loop in publishers and Ad Ops specialists to determine how much they would realistically spend on a feature like this. Collecting these data points is key, but the practice of synthesizing these points in an actionable way is what will make you a great investor. I would give the same tip to both female or male investors.
For female investors, in particular, I would simply forget any gender difference, sit in the same posture as other men in the room, speak in the same pitch, and straight up do your job. You too can wear AllBirds and jeans to meetings. Act as if, and the playing field will level itself out. Pick a female mentee while you’re at it, as that’s how we can make sure we’re not evening the ratio purely for the sake of numbers!
W2: WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR FEMALE FOUNDERS WHO ARE SEEKING FUNDING?
Approach every meeting like a founder; not a female founder. Adjectives can either diffuse nouns or clarify them. “Female founder” fits the former. Instead, use a descriptor to carve out a niche for yourself: A verticalized niche – if backed up by passion and experience – communicates you’re a founder with relevant expertise. “SaaS” “FinTech” or “E-commerce” founders are far more compelling than “Male Founders,” for instance.
If you’re still looking to use a descriptor as a way to connect with the person across the table, check out a bio for a philanthropic, alma-mater, or athletic-driven interest that you might have in common.