FinanciElle Bookshelf – Leap Frog: The New Revolution for Women Entrepreneurs by Nathalie Molina Niño with Sara Grace

For the April FinanciElle Bookshelf, I picked Leap Frog: The New Revolution for Women Entrepreneurs by Nathalie Molina Niño with Sara Grace

Why did I pick it – Nathalie is an investor focused on high growth businesses that economically benefit women, nough said.

I really liked this book, I liked the structure, I liked the bite-sized bits of information, and I loved the honesty.

FinanciElle is a community about women making money moves, so obviously one of my favourite parts of the book was Section 4 Hacks: FUND.

I’m going to breakdown my favourite quote or piece of advice from each hack:

Hack 30: Funding 101: Start Scrappy, Stay Scrappy

  • “Here’s The Thing about start-up capital: It’s expensive. You either pay interest, or you give away a chunk of your company or its future profits. Before you do either, push bootstrapping to its maximum limits.” – Nathalie Molina Niño
  • “Don’t buy or rent anything – until you’ve first asked to have it for free…If you want free stuff, make asking a habit. Ask, ask, and ask. Most women (and plenty of men) need to ask more and ask for more.” – Nathalie Molina Niño
  • If you fear rejection watch this TED talk by Jia Jiang that’s mentioned in this hack.

Hack 31: Raise Prices, Stat

  • “When entrepreneurs need to get more money in the door, raising prices is often one of the easiest solutions…I am willing to bet that whatever it is you do, whatever it is you sell, you’re currently charging too little. Likewise, for those who are already fundraising, you’re probably not asking for enough. Just as in salary negotiations, women routinely ask for less than men.” – Nathalie Molina Niño (here’s where hack #30 also comes in – asking)
  • “Under pricing yourself does even more damage to you emotionally and physically than it does to your bottom line” – Jacquette M. Timmons

Hack 32: #$@! The “Friends and Family” Round

Let’s set the stage for this one, shall we:

“Friends and Family financing are always the easiest to complete – often taking less than two months from start to finish. Friends and Family rounds usually raise $25,000 to $150,000 in total – the amount depends a lot on who your friends and family are” –

Take a minute, how many friends and family members do you know that can dole out that kind of cash or who you would feel comfortable asking to make that kind of investment?

And here is one of my favourite quotes from Nathalie, “The privilege backed into this model is ludicrous and makes it difficult for anyone without wealthy friends and family to ever receive investment capital.”

Instead, go out and find the hidden money – accelerators, grants… and make a new friend with your small business administration, chamber of commerce …

Hack 33: Venture is a White-Collar Drug

I was so happy to see this Hack.

  • “For the vast majority of businesses, and the vast majority of spending needs, venture money is a bad fit. Actually, it’s a terrible fit…If you’re more interested in building a “forever” business than in accommodating someone else’s exit strategy, venture capital might not be for you – and so it’s particularly important to understand the broader picture of investment and financing.” – Nathalie Molina Niño

Hack 34: Debt isn’t a Four-Letter Word

  • “Most People hear the word debt and think, “Something I want to get out of.” Get over it. If you’re a woman looking for capital, debt might be your new best friend. It may not be sexy like venture, but remember: You and your business already have the secret sauce – you. What you needs is money, and debt is the most overlooked, poorly understood capital leapfrog there is.” – Nathalie Molina Niño

Hack 35: Win the Crowd

  • “Crowdfunding – all types (rewards based, equity, debt) – seems to be the one area in which women are more successful at raising money than men.” – Nathalie Molina Niño
  • Major Crowdfunding sites like have created resources and services to help with crowdfunding, a good tip is to browse campaigns that have been fully funded and note why – what differed from campaigns that didn’t, if you donated – why?

Hack 36: Get the Traction You Need, Not the Traction They Want

  • “Crowdfunding isn’t merely a source of capital. It’s a powerful way to show potential investors that you’ve gotten traction-which can be even more valuable than the dollars you raise from the campaign itself…Thus, crowdfunding is a genius leapfrog because you can rack up customers-and brand ambassadors, happily urging others to contribute-before you even have a product.” – Nathalie Molina Niño

Hack 37: Write the Casablanca of Decks

These are Nathalie’s tips:

  • Pay attention to the formula behind your story telling

According to Nathalie, “Buried financials is a frequent issue in decks I’ve vetted – particularly for women founders. It always leads me to three possible conclusions, none of them good. One, the founders are so afraid of money matters that I’m frankly concerned about their ability to run the company. Two, they doubt their own success and are therefore insecure about their ask. Or three, fundraising or not, they don’t pay enough attention to the bottom line.”

Hack 38: Find Your Angels

  • “Never forget that an angel can be…anyone. What I mean is that someone could start as your advisor and end up your angel, if both your business model and the relationship are strong. You only need to awaken them to the possibilities.” – Nathalie Molina Niño

Hack 39: Be Mighty in the VC Power Play

  • “Don’t send a query until you’ve done enough research to know whether you’ve got even a hint of a chance with a particular VC…If every VC meeting leaves you feeling like you walked in with little power and walked out with less, you’re not going to survive your fundraising effort. So don’t let that be the story. Walk in smart; walk out smarter.” – Nathalie Molina Niño

Hack 40: Answer the $10 Million Question

  • At what point does the possibility of an exit become real? You start to be in the ballpark at around $10 million to $20 million in revenue and $3 million to $4 million in profit…So at that moment in the life of your business, it’s time to ask yourself the $10 million question: How should I grow? Along with that you’ll be asking the second question: How should the company grow? You’ve got options, sister.” – Nathalie Molina Niño
  • Through private equity you can sell a majority of your business and stick around in some leadership role, You can do a full exit and be a serial entrepreneur, if you love starting companies but not running mature ones, Or, you can stay small relatively speaking

I leave you with another quote by Nathalie,

“Small businesses are the backbone of any healthy economy, and your impact doesn’t need to be limited by how many zeros are on your yearly financial statement. If you ask me, we need more women-led businesses to grow into whales, and I have dedicated my life to ensuring that people like you have the tools and resources to do just that. But don’t let anyone shame you into thinking that anything less is a failure.”

The section on Funding is 45 pages log with lists and tips and stories. I just picked some of my favourite pieces from each hack to share (which, I will say was very difficult to do as everything in this section you need to read)

This was just one section, I didn’t even touch on the ready, set,  go, and grow hacks– this is a must read!


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