Why the Focus on Women Entrepreneur in High Tech?

  • Women has huge buying power (women control 2/3 of discretionary spending in US households)
  • A market discountinuity exist between women’s capabilities and the opportunities that they are not taking advantage of
  • Expanding presence of women at officer level of IPOs (in 2009, 17 of 19 high-tech IPOs with a woman officer)
  • Women in tech entrepreneurship now represents 16% of all applying for angel capital
  • Women founders outperform – launch companies with 30-50% less capital than the norm. Achieve comparable or higher revenues in earlier years. Are slightly less likely to fail.
  • Cornell research proved that gender diversity increased innovation
  • Women historically start a company 10 years later than men (women at 35-45 years  vs men at 25-35). But that is now changing with Women 2.0 in California.
  • Why so few women in StartUps and VCs? 30% of women with right education and exposure are in high tech workforce.
  • How Women Fund their Companies – self financing, bank debt, angel investment
  • Sand Hill Rd: Venture-backed companies outperform all others due to functional and financial expertise, knowledgeable service providers, best rates on debt, customers and partner introductions, and credibility – staff, customers, partners
  • Why the Gap? (i) Pattern Recognition/Homophily + Self Selection. 93% of the people on “Sand Hill Rd” are white males and have attended Harvard or Stanford. Women also more likely to seek women investors but there are a lot less out there. (ii) Lack of Access + Lack of Visibility. There is no critical mass (70% of IT startups have 0 women founders, 26% have 1 woman partner and 6% have 2 women partners).  
  • Overcoming the barriers: The road for women has been mapped by Indian entrepreneurs.
  • Recommendations: READY – Encourage young women to gain the right educations and fund research to better understand the barriers. SET – Consolidate movements for more focused impact. GO – Build visitbility.
  • Illuminate’s Approach: 4 investments so far (2 have women CEOs, 2 have women co-founders in high tech). It’s all about performance – Illuminate believes that startups with women founders generate higher revenues per dollar of invested capital and lower failure rates than those led by men
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