Leonora Valvo has a knack for spotting market pain points in the travel and event industries and addressing them by starting and growing multimillion companies. But even with a track record, when she started her third company, and needed capital to grow market share before competitors flooded the marketplace, it took her 18 months. The twenty-something male gatekeepers at venture capital firms could not imagine that a seasoned women with industry experience could develop cloud-based events software.
She was one of the lucky ones: Even though women entrepreneurs are more likely than their male counterparts to deliver a high return on investment, only one woman raises equity financing for every nine men that do. And male-led businesses reach $1 million in revenue three times more often than those run by women.
A new funding source has the potential to change those numbers, but one year after Title II of the JOBS Act was approved allowing companies to publicly raise capital through online crowdfunding platforms, only 17% of companies raising this kind of money are women-led.
Among those women who have succeeded at raising money through equity crowdfunding is Paige Cattano of Wonder Technologies, which developed patent-pending technology that enables credit cards to be used as gift cards by any merchant. The books Cattano read about pitching all recommended an aggressive style, which wasn't comfortable for her and probably not for most women.
"What I really liked about equity crowdfunding was that the first exposure to the company was online with written materials, a deck and video," said Cattano. "It took gender out the equation and made it about the business idea." Crowdfunding is about storytelling and marketing -- both skills that women tend to do well.
It's also about having a powerful networkthat you can reach out to without hestitation -- women don't excel at this. By time Valvo started her fourth company, she had those connections. She was able to raise money quickly for insightXM, which uses big data to improve experiential events from the perspectives of all constituents: attendees, the event producer, and sponsors. For Cattano and her cofounders, the power of crowdfunding was reaching the connections of their connections in a consistent anddisciplined way. Only 10% of their investors came from outside their extended network.
In March, I'll release a definitive report that includes insights from Cattano and other women who are succeeding at raising money through equity crowdfunding. It will provide a blueprint for women seeking funding so they know if raising equity financing is right for their company and -- if so -- exactly how to do it. The report also provides direction for people who are considering becoming angel investors and who want to support women entrepreneurs. Critically, the report's findings will be tangible and actionable, with deliverables including industry benchmarks; case studies; social media best practices; key insights into how women approach investing;and expert advice from women entrepreneurs who have successfully crowdfunded.
Entrepreneurs, angel investors and supporters of women in business recognize the significance of this report. I have reached80% of my funding goal with a week to go. Your contribution underwrites the research, analysis, and distribution of this seminal study. The more money I raise above my goal, the more free training I will be able to do. In addition, to getting a copy of the report, you will receive a host of other benefits. Importantly, your contribution is tax-deductible because it's an investment in your professional development.
As the Founder and President of Ventureneer, I've spent 15 years supporting women entrepreneurs, including eight years as a board member of the NYC Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners. I've been writing about the success factors of women entrepreneurs in Forbesfor the past three years and wrote Forget the Glass Ceiling: Build Your Business Without One,a free e-book published by Dell.
I've already started my educational outreach with articles about the need:Crowdfunding Can Overcome Obstacles for Women Entrepreneurs,Giving Women Entrepreneurs the Funding They Need,A Sound Investment in the Promise of Women Entrepreneursand Everything Ventured, Everything Gained.I've written my first article summarizing interviews with women entrepreneurs I'm doing for the report:Women Still Chasing the Elusive American Dream.Because you are part of my inner circle, I'm also sharing theresourcesI'm relying on to write my report.
Your support will help create a rising tide for women-led businesses everywhere: Your dollars will fund not only the blueprint itself, but also a full program of marketing outreach. The more money we raise, the more training we can provide to women entrepreneurs and investors.
This is one of my most exciting undertakings yet, because new opportunities to publicly raise equity funding can be a game-changer - but only if we join together to take advantage of it.
Contribute today!Time is running out. The campaign ends Friday, February 6 at 12 noon.
To your success,