Last week, Huckletree Shoreditch hosted a Bumble Bizz event on How to Fund A Startup, featuring Huckletree CEO and Founder; Gabriela Hersham, and Felix Capital Partner and Co-Founder; Antoine Nussenbaum.
The pair led a discussion on the bias that comes into play when startups ask for funding.
In 2017 only 15% of funding went to startups with a female founder, despite the fact that almost a third of new businesses are founded by women, with that number increasing at a rapid rate.
Bumble Bizz Ambassador; Leila Ladjevardian compèred the evening, driving insightful conversation from both sides; the startup, and the VC.
About life as a startup…
A: We’re in our fifth year of investment so we like to think we’re a startup!
G: Women come and pitch numbers and forecasts that are modest. We project what we think we can achieve. Men tend to over pitch and VCs buy into that.
A: We understand brands, we love brands. We are more focused on things that are tangible. I agree with Gaby, I think there is bias and that’s obvious. You are more in your comfort zone with people you can relate to. There are more male founders than female founders. We see less women that are inspired to build tech heavy businesses.
About unconcious bias…
G: It’s not just about men and women. We have so many unconscious bias that we aren’t aware of. Raising our children to not have those biases will take a long time. Statistically if you’re a women or an ethnic minority you’re less likely to get funding.
G: Even people I consider close to me have those biases and you start to question yourself. Everybody has these biases and it’s our responsibility to make sure we don’t have them.
G: I have one investor that always calls me up and tries to prove that I don’t know what I’m talking about. It’s not fair that men are less likely to be pushed in the same way.
A: It’s an art of the right balance. They need to like you and like the project you’re working on.
G: It’s about common ground. If I come knowing The VCs investments, plus ones I interact with, then I can use that as common ground to spark a connection.
About women in the Tech ecosystem…
A: I think we all have different roles in this ecosystem. We think it’s better to do things by being authentic. We invest in lots of women because they’re the best at what they do.
G: In the words of Sarah Kunst, Managing Director, Cleo Capital: “I do this crazy thing that is hiring people that aren’t just white dudes. It works really great — you guys should try it.”
G: People from all walks of life should feel comfortable applying for jobs.
A: I just want the best people possible. What I won’t do is back a company if the diversity is just there to be diverse. As soon as it feels engineered… it doesn’t sit right. I want people that are ambitious.
Access to lines of capital…
G: When I started Huckletree I had no idea where to start. Luckily I had a Co-Founder from a financial background. It comes back down to the boys club. There is a huge pipeline problem, and that’s a very difficult thing to address.
A: I think these problems relate to society. We are seeing more and more women shining.
G: With all the rise of these female founder superheroes, the good thing is that it inspires more women to do this. It’s exciting seeing that new generation of female founders coming out in the woodwork.
What excites you…
G: We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the benefits of the company (Huckletree) and what we can offer. On the subject of parental leave, we do better than statutory pay.
It’s the big thing we put in, it’s about the primary caregiver and the secondary caregiver. If somebody has to take my child to the Doctor, it’s me. It’s about offering as best you can to both.
This Bumble Bizz conversation doesn’t stop there. Huckletree is committed to making things fair. We’re on a mission to address and fix the divide when it comes to fairer funding for all founders.
Join our campaign for Fairer Funding Now.