allegory of the cave

I saw ANOTHER article today placing Uber in the hot seat once again. The unicorn has had a terrible year, and needs one hell of an image makeover. This got me thinking about the role of women, not just in tech but the overall startup and investment space.

Despite being male-dominated, there is press that hails the women of business and encourages those who want to enter the world. TechCrunch posted an article last year discussing the nuances of feminism in tech. Likening it to the Allegory of the Cave, the tech world is stepping into the sunlight and revamping their products to include more gender equality.

Startups are experiencing their own influx of women (infographics with stats here and here). Here are some of the highlights: There was a 68% increase in women starting businesses in the U.S. between 1997 and 2014, and if female U.S. business owners formed their own country, they would have the 5th largest GDP in the world. Compared to 31% of men, 32.9% of female founders have an advanced degree, and while only 5.9% of male founders went to a top 10 school, 7.2% of female founders did. And, tech startups founded by women have a 35% higher ROI and generate 12% more revenue than those founded by men! Despite the incredible performance delivered by the women of the startup world, only about 7% of investor funds go to female founded ventures, and the ratio of male- to female-owned startups funded is 6:1. And, if I’m being honest, I was a little bit bummed out to see that the most common industry for VC deals involving at least one female founder was Consumer Goods & Recreation, and that it was over 10% more prevalent than the next lowest (Pharma / Biotech), while women-founded startups were only 7.3% in IT Hardware.

Helping to break through this barrier for women entrepreneurs is BBG Ventures, a NYC-based micro VC firm that helps female-founded businesses get off the ground. In fact, the firm has mandated that every startup must have at least one female founder in order to gain access to their portfolio. BBG Ventures grew out of AOL’s #BuiltByGirls initiative and currently has 38 startups posted in their portfolio. Their primary focus is tech, which I love, and they encourage companies to reach out to them on their website, admitting that “great ideas don’t always come packaged with connections.” BBG is definitely going to be on my radar as they help women and their companies get off the ground.

The business climate is ever-changing, and women are leaving — now more than ever — legacies rivaling their male counterparts. What a time to be alive!

Before I go, here’s one last #girlpower moment: women have been known to be better investors than men.

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