We wanted to use the March edition of our monthly video podcast to put focus on the brilliant women founders in our startup ecosystem. Luckily we have many to choose from in Barcelona, so we invited business angel and co-founder and CEO of B-Wom Helena Torras, co-founder of Geenapp Gina Tostand CEO and co-founder of Eelp! Nina Alastruey to discuss the status for women in tech in 2017, with a special focus on Spain and Barcelona.

Helena Torras is the co-founder and CEO of B-Wom as well as being an experienced business angel and director of Fund Of Funds.

Being a women is an advantage

Torras explains that being an entrepreneur, and being a woman in startups has changed a lot the last ten years. However, a decade ago, she always felt that being a woman was an advantage:

I was the only one, so when I went an event or a meeting, people remembered me. Ten years ago, all investors and entrepreneurs were men, that has changed with time, but I always saw being a women as an advantage.

Alastruey has a different approach that what it means being a woman in tech in 2017:

I think it’s super tough and very difficult. I remember being in an investor meeting with my previous startup in Silicon Valley, and one of the investors asked me what I did at the company. I said I was the CEO, and he was super surprised, he thought I worked with marketing, that’s the general conception.

Tost which founded Geenapp four years ago, said it wasn’t easy becoming an entrepreneurs, but that other women in the startup community, made it much easier:

Compared to Helena and Nina I don’t have that much experience, but when I started out it was easier because I had a network of great women entrepreneurs from Barcelona around me, and that empowered me to work even harder.

The power of diverse teams

All three entrepreneurs believe the startup ecosystem is the perfect place for women interesting in tech to start their career.

Alastruey puts it like this:

Women are incredible as they’re able to multi-task in a different way than men are capable of. For a startup that needs everyone to take responsibility, this is a skill that is in demand.

Tost, founded Geenapp together with Javier Casares and Jaime Ferre:

I have a very diverse team, and from the beginning I was always the multitasker, doing everything, and I think that’s why my more experienced team-members liked me. We started working together almost five years ago, and we’ve know raised a kid that’s kind of big.

Gina Tost co-founded Geenapp with her founders almost five years ago. The company links app creators and users is one of the Spain’s most successful SaaS startups.

Torras has invested in many different types of teams, but she says one thing is clear:

It’s not about having only women or having only men, all studies show that diverse teams perform better than non-diverse startups. It’s all about finding the right balance of talent, and I think a diverse team is the best way to go.

CEO and co-founder of Eelp!, Nina Alastruey think it’s extremely tough to be a women entrepreneur in 2017.

Need to prioritize networking

Even though Torras has never seen being a women as a negative thing in the startup community, she does have some advice to up-and-coming entrepreneurs:

Some founders think it’s enough to do well during working hours, but I think you need to go out and network and meet people. It’s a key to building trust with investors and other entrepreneurs.

Alastruey says there’s still challenges also in these areas, and that women founders often are kept out of the networking circle because a lot of it happens in an environment mostly reserved for men:

You rarely see investors who are men inviting a women founder to play golf, and it’s not as normal to go out with your investors and have a beer if you’re a woman as if you’re a man.

Torras disagrees:

I do all the same things as any other man would do, investor or entrepreneur.

Support each other

Tost doesn’t think there’s a clear path to making the startup ecosystem more diverse:

There’s no list of things we should get done to become a more diverse tech hub, it boils down to supporting each other as women in tech and working really hard for what you want to achieve.

Also Torras thinks supporting each other’s progress is more important than anything else:

I always believed in seeing opportunities, before challenges. I like to stay positive and focus on the positive things that are happening in the space of women in tech in Spain.

She continues:

If you are involved in the startup ecosystem, and you show ambition and the right vision, I think being a women is more and more becoming an advantage.

Torras explains that there’s big things going on, and that she can’t reveal exactly what yet, but that it will benefit women in tech in Barcelona and Spain is for sure.

To get the full discussion, take a look at the video in the top.

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T.

The Rise of Female Entrepreneurs

In 2018, the American Mentoring platform SCORE published a report considering female entrepreneurship in which we find out that in the US women owned enterprises employs approximately 9M people and generate more than $1.6T. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor also covered the topic and pointed out that 126M women now start or run their own business. The rise of female entrepreneurship has been highly pointed out by the media in the last years; more and more debates come to life considering the presence of women in tech, entrepreneurship and business; this is why we decided to share with you our findings and opinion on the topic.

female entrepreneurs

What's going on in female entrepreneurship?

Female entrepreneurs are on the rise, the number has increased by 18% in 2017 and today represent 26% of all businesses. The TOP industries where female entrepreneurship is present correspond to health, fitness, retail, beauty, business services, food, cleaning and maintenance.

59% of women explain starting a business in order to pursue their passion and 42% be their own boss. Despite the growth in female entrepreneurship; we can recognise a strong gender disparity culture and a need for things to evolve.

The Harvard Business School undertook a study where a group of male and a group of female presented the exact same business proposal for investment. The outcome of the experience, shows that 39% of investors said they would offer funding to the women in contrast to 68% for the males.

female entrepreneurs

Female in business face strong issues and stereotype that need to be beaten to the root in order to engage the economic impact and new wave of leadership. Women are underrepresented business leaders; 5% of the CEO in Fortune 500 are female, and only 20% are Fortune 500 board members. 

This under-presence is not the only issue; women and male have a huge gap in salaries. The world’s highest CEO pay corresponds to $87.5M for Gregory Maffin the CEO of Library Media against $47.2M for Carol Bartz, ex-CEO of Yahoo. 

Let’s not desperate considering the issues that women are facing in business; day by day things are changing. More and more female leaders are empowering the case of women promoting their hard work and impact in the society. 

female entrepreneurs

What women have to say?

We discussed with Zeynep Demirbilek; the CEO and founder of Service Club to have the point of a view directly from a woman. She points out that in business she doesn’t visualise a difference between women and males. From her point of view, it should not be based on the gender but on the individual themselves. 

She recognises that as a woman, there are a lot more compromises and that it can be more complicated . Women have to take care of their career, just like they traditionally take care of the family; she admit admiring the women able to balance the upbringing of kids and the scaling of a business. 

She points out that many times, she has been asked if the reason to her success, was being a women; when the hard-work and commitment should be the only recognisable values. 

She considers that the presence of women in business, will highly influence the future of management due to their abilities to be more considerate, understanding than their male peers. The rise of female in business, will increase the use of emotional intelligence in business management.  

Female Entrepreneurs in VCs

In the world of VC, Female are not present enough. The UK Treasury Report shows that all female leadership teams have received less than 1p for every £1 of investment in startups. In the US, female VCs are shadowed by the high male presence, only representing 9% of VCs; we can also point out that 74% of US’s VC Firms are all-men. This huge gender disparity, is unfortunately causing lack of funding in female founded projects, lacking  promotion and empowerment.

However, let’s not be too negative; things are changing step by step by the hard work and development of engaged and dedicated female leaders, empowering women all across the world to believe in themselves and start their company.

Venture Capital firms in the United States for female founders and co-founders have been trending up in the recent years; several women-led funds and incubators were launched in 2018 promoting the presence of female in the sector.

female entrepreneurs
female entrepreneurs

Source: Crunchbase

In one of their recent article, Crunchbase mentioned that 7% of partners at top 100 ventures firms were women and that female held under 12% of the partner roles in accelerators and corporate venture firms.

Based on the data given by pitchbook.com we know that between 2008 and 2019, the female (co)founded VC deal have increased from 3.3% to 6.1%; and the female (co)founded VC Capital went from 1.7% to 2.2%. The number is trending slowly and raising step by step showing the need for a boost in female presence in Venture Capital.

In a second place, the charts provided by pitchbook.com shows that the deal flow by female co-founded companies increased from $2.2B in 2008 to $16.2B in 2019.

We can recognise promising female-founded startups that raised heavy investment such as:
-Glossier, founded by Emily Weiss raising $192M
-RenttheRunway founded by Jennifer Hymn and Jennifer Fleis raising $321M and Humacyte founded by Laura Niklason , Juliana Blum and Shanna Daki raising $438M

We can also recognise the development of promising female-founded investment firms such as:
-TheJumpFund founded in 2013 BY Stephanie Grove and Kristina Montague investing in 33 projects, with 6 successful exists; BBG ventures founded in 2014 by Susan Lyne investing in 84 projects with 9 exists and Rethink Impact, founded by Jenny Abramson in 2015 investing in 23 projects and 1 current exit.

What can we conclude about that? The VC funding statistics for women are not high, but there are going up step by step. It’s important to recognise the need to empower women in business and engage the economic activity of female entrepreneurship.

More and more role models are empowering women and the future generation of leaders to see their potential and recognise women as important as men in the industry. This week, it is the famous tennis player Serena Williams that revealed a new venture capital ownership; the US tennis superstar launched Serena Ventures promoting diverse leadership, individual empowerment, creativity and opportunity. This type of role model changes the way women are seen day by day and promotes the economical and business achievement of each one of them.

When asked his opinion on the topic, Albert Domingo the CEO of NextTRet said how important for women it was to grow within all industries and recognised their ability for multi-tasking. He shared with us that after being present for many years in business, he saw the need for women to present themselves more on the venture capital scene. As he mentioned, today in venture capital we see many sharks, people with no compunction that are only going after the power and money. He pointed out that women are recognised for having a deeper emotional intelligence than men and that it could give some variety to future VCs.

female entrepreneurs

Female in Technology

Finally to discuss about women in tech, we can point out that they only represent  20% of US’s Tech jobs, when they represent half of the American workforce. However their has been an increase of 68% of tech businesses founded by women between 1997 and 2014. 

Based on the information given by entrepreneur.com we understand that the number of startup with a least one female increased from 9.5% to 18% between 2009 and 2014. 

However, it’s a must to recognise that women are underrepresented, as they encounter only 7% of tech roles in Europe and only 11% of Software Developers roles. 5% of Tech-startups are owned by women, it is going to be critically important to engage the empowerment of women in tech in order to diversity our industries and economies. 

We discussed  with Adrienne Fanning, the CEO of founder of Sawyer. She considered having received a lot of support since she arrived in Barcelona three years ago, especially by the Tech and Startup World. She recognises that sometimes it can be challenging to be a woman in this ‘Boyzy club’. She considers that it’s time today, for women to be given more of a voice in business, VC and Tech; to be able to spread empowerment, confidence and the development of projects. 

Finally one a last note considering women in tech, Alexis Roig mentioned that there is a lack of promotion within the technology industries for young girls; making tech look ‘for boys’. He considers that female in tech don’t have enough role models to follow and that we must make girls part of it from a very young age. He underlined the great work, done by BSC, promoting technological industries in the educational programs of girls from a very young age. 

To conclude, women are taking more and more space on the Business, Tech and Venture Capital front. They promote a new management and a new perspective to business and allow the diversification of our industries. More than ever, it is important to promote the work of women to step by step change our world for a more balanced place.