This week started off with a bang at the F-Factor Fueling Female Founders, an International Woman’s Week Launch Event, a room filled with female entrepreneurs, women in business and those, both men and women, looking for inspiration from the fantastic key note speaker Monique Woodard and the panel of phenomenal women.
This fantastic event was put on by Invest Ottawa and Bayview Yards, together with RBC & L-SPARK.
Invest Ottawa, with its Gender Diversity and Inclusion Guideline, is looking to make Ottawa the place for women entrepreneurs to start and scale up. Stay tuned for future events.
Monique, a serial entrepreneur and now VC, kicked off the event by talking about her experience going to pitch events and not seeing herself represented in the rooms she was in; so, her and some friends started Black Founders. In the process, she realized that in order for the programs provided to have impact, she needed to impact where the money was going.
She mentioned how when you diversify where the money comes from, you diversify who gets it, and what businesses succeed.
The issue of getting capital into the hands of underrepresented groups isn’t a pipeline or performance issue but a pure bias issue. Monique didn’t want to miss the arbitrage opportunity that was presenting itself because study after study shows that besides the fact that investing in diversity is the right thing to do, from a purely money perspective, female founders outperform their male counterparts and diversity of every kind boosts the bottom line.
Some of the questions posed to Monique by the audience, and her responses were as follows:
(Questions are being paraphrased, I tried to write them as exact as possible but was trying to capture as much as possible)
What’s some advice you have on building a diverse quality team when you’re just starting out as a new entrant and on equity management in terms of scaling vs. retaining ownership?
With regards to how to attract and build the right team for a new entrant, Monique mentioned that to attract the right people you need to create a movement, not just a company and you have to make it as attractive for as many different types of people as possible from the beginning.
With regards to equity management and scaling vs. retaining ownership, she mentioned:
- Having to decide what kind of company you want
- Not giving away too much, too soon – because the more you give up in the beginning, the harder it will be to get additional investors later on
- Thinking about whether you want a small piece of a big pie, or a big piece of a small pie.
one of the things Monique said with regards to the biggest challenge she had is that it’s about being resilient, if you keep showing up, good things will happen.
How do women who want to invest, get there?
- Get more educated on being an angel investor – a good program for women interested in becoming an angel investor, in Canada is Female Funders. (You can read Jill Earthy’s – Head of growth at Female Funders, FinanciElle “$tatement” here)
- Go to events, like the one we’re currently at, to find entrepreneurs to invest in
- Optimize for things you know best when starting out
- Know you’re probably going to lose some money and be okay with that (this type of investment should just be a piece of your diversified investment strategy, not the whole thing)
What’s your advice for a company who’s bootstrapping about when to start looking for outside investment?
Look for them and start talking to them before you need the money.
How do we accelerate the rate of investment in women founders?
Having more women investing time and resources into women founders.
The keynote was followed by a panel of fantastic women at every stage of business from early stage, to established, and international.
While it was established that change for female founders has been slow, and there’s still a lot that needs to be done, it was universally acknowledged that there are more resources out there now than there have ever been before.
I want to make sure that everyone is aware of the various resources that were mentioned so I’m listing them below:
- A Force to Reckon With: Women Entrepreneurship and Risk
- Everywhere, Everyday Innovating: Women Entrepreneurs and Innovation
Janice McDonald shared that a third research study is going to be done on women entrepreneurs and export so stay tuned for that. (You can read Janice’s FinanciElle “$tatement” here)
- Technovation Ottawa – a program for girls 10-18 to learn about being a tech entrepreneur
- WCT’s Protégé Project – The only cross sector career sponsorship program in Canada
Both Giovanna Mingarelli and Alida Burke spoke about their positive experiences with BDC (The bank for entrepreneurs), some of their resources are:
- Women in Technology Venture Fund
- Resources for Women Entrepreneurs
- The WE Talk Business Boot Camp *** This will be in Ottawa on March 19, 2019 and is a full day of absolutely FREE, yes I said FREE, education and community building for women entrepreneurs put on by BDC, Janice McDonald and Claire Beckton
Resources for Going International:
Giovanna Mingarelli, CEO and Co-Founder of M&C consulting, who’s taken her business internationally mentioned:
- Trade commissioner services – who have dedicated resources for Business Women in International Trade
- EDC – Champions for Canadian Women in Trade
The question about at what stage can an individual become an investor came up and it was mentioned that right now if you’re looking to invest in Canada your two options are the friend and family round, and being an accredited Investor, which by definition means:
“An individual who beneficially owns, or who together with a spouse beneficially own, financial assets having an aggregate realizable value that, before taxes but net of any related liabilities, exceeds $1,000,000; or (c) an individual whose net income before taxes exceeded $200,000 in each of the two most recent years or whose net income before taxes combined with that of a spouse exceeded $300,000 in each of those years and who, in either case, has a reasonable expectation of exceeding the same net income level in the current year”– Accredited Capital Corporation
For me, and I’m sure for many women, who don’t fit that criteria, but who want to support female entrepreneurs too, this is where the wind might have been taken out of their sails a bit; however, if your goals are to:
- Be a woman who helps get more capital into the hands of women entrepreneurs
- Be part of an ecosystem of female entrepreneurs who are changing the world and the women who support them
- Don’t have friends and family you can or want to invest in, or fit the definition of an accredited investor (so, the average person)
Then I have news for you – there’s another option, a new model that’s inclusive of all women’s situations – SheEO.
Whether you put in the full $1,100 yourself, or join with a group of your Best FinanciElle Friends (regardless of age), or co-workers to pool your funds together, you can help to create a pool of capital of $500,000 that is loaned out to five women-led Ventures in your region, paid back into the fund over five years and then loaned out again, in perpetuity.
The goal is to have 1 million women globally supporting 10,000 female entrepreneurs with a $1 billion perpetual loan fund.
Not only do you get to put capital into the hands of entrepreneurs now:
- your money becomes part of a pool of money that will get borrowed, paid back, and lent out forever (as long as the fund exists)
- you get to pick the women led companies that get your money, in whatever year(s) you activate
- you become part of a global community of activators (women who have put money into the fund) and get to be continually involved with the business you helped fund
The follow up question to what stage can an individual become an investor, was what the opinion was on traditional investments (stocks, bonds, ETFs…), to which the response was that angel investment should just be a piece of a well-balanced and diversified portfolio of investments.
When the topic of mentorship came up, mention of the programs listed above came up, as did the fact that you can also engage in peer mentorship. Mentorship doesn’t have to just be about someone more experienced in their career path mentoring someone coming up. The ladies on the panel also talked about setting realistic expectations around mentorship and how mentorship relationships can evolve over time.
With regards to pursuing entrepreneurship when you are an established professional with a steady career, it was brought up that entrepreneurship doesn’t necessarily need to be an either or proposition, depending on your individual situation.
I’ve tried here to capture the knowledge that was shared and the spirit of the event, I hope you feel like you got to be there.
This was just day one…