How in 2017 does 90% of venture capital go to fund businesses founded by men? According to TechCrunch, in the period between 2010-2015, 10 percent of venture dollars globally, a total of $31.5 billion, funded startups that reported at least one female founder. This represented 3,265 funding rounds, or 12 percent of all venture funding rounds. With statistics like that, raising money for a female entrepreneur is a daunting task.
Project Entrepreneur is committed to breaking down the barriers for female founders to access capital. Project Entrepreneur is a program of UBS Elevating Entrepreneurs, the firm’s flagship philanthropic entrepreneurship initiative, and a portfolio of partnerships and programs committed to bringing the right resources to the right entrepreneurs to help spur economic growth. Last week they announced their class of 2017, and the 10 finalists for the Project Entrepreneur pitch competition. LOLI Beauty will be the only beauty brand to present at the live pitch competition on Saturday, April 8.
Tina Hedges is CEO & Founder of LOLI Beauty, the only beauty brand to be included in the pitch competition. Hedges is a seasoned marketer working for companies like Lauder and L’Oréal, but LOLI isn’t Hedges’ first start-up. During the past decade, she’s been involved in several entrepreneurial ventures—from an award-winning, record-breaking, sulfate-free, vegan hair brand to a functional beverage that made Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top 100 Most Brilliant Companies list. Even with a pedigree like this, fundraising for LOLI was not a walk in the park, but she’s come out the other side with the seed funding necessary to push the business forward.
Tina Hedges’ three tips for fundraising as a female entrepreneur:
- Know your audience. Today, with over $114 billion of VC financing available, why is only 10% of this put towards female-founded businesses? One reason is that the majority of decision makers at VC firms are male, 94% to be precise. Then add the hurdle of pitching a female-oriented business like beauty versus tech and it becomes almost mission impossible.
- Don’t be afraid to ask. If you’re a female entrepreneur seeking investment, a successful raise is more often than not based on who you know, not what you know. Female founders need to cultivate mentors and advisors who are part of the VC ecosystem before going out to capital raise. Start early—even before you launch—and build a solid network of critical relationships who’ll champion your company and open doors.
- Remember to pay it both forward and backward. Help other women in business any way you can. Wherever you are in your career, there is always something you can do to help someone else. You never know how and when a good deed will come back to you. I got an intro to LOLI’s lead investor because I helped out a female executive who wanted an intro to someone in my network. A year later, I asked “Who do you know that I need to know for LOLI?” and here we are with a successful Series Seed round.
LOLI Beauty is also in the running for a CEW Indie Brand Beauty Award this year—so vote!