Never Been a Better Time for Women Entrepreneurs

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By Wendy Tan White (Founder & CEO, Moonfruit)

It’s been a great 12 months for our business, taking a $2.25M Series A round from Stephens(US) for international growth, backing from Silicon Valley-based 500 Startups, relaunching Moonfruit to focus on SMB’s who expect better DIY design tools to build better designed websites, record revenues and the Everywoman Entrepreneur of the Year award. There has never been a better time to be a women entrepreneur, get out there and set up your own business!

Women-led firms are the fastest growing sector of new venture creation in the US. The trend is international, in Brazil there are more female than male entrepreneurs and China has created half of the female billionaire entrepreneurs globally a direct result of women’s economic empowerment. I believe there is also growth opportunity for women in the UK. As business owners, women in the UK still have a lot of ground to make up on our American cousins.

Recent statistics have shown that if the UK had the same level of female entrepreneurship as the US, there would be approximately 600,000 extra women-owned businesses, contributing an estimated additional £42 billion to the economy. To put it into perspective, with businesses started by men in the UK too, an extra 150,000 start-ups would be created per year if women were to meet their number of businesses started.

It raises interesting questions for debate – why are women more reticent taking the leap versus men? Is it rooted in education and awareness from a younger age? A collective psyche which has ambition elsewhere perhaps? I’d be interested to know your thoughts.

Supporting Women of All Ages in Technology and Entrepreneurship

I believe it’s important to support young women at grass roots level. Breaking the Mould is an event run by Lisa Buckingham, Editor of Financial Mail and FMFW which supports girls of school-age who are interested in getting into industries, such as tech, which are predominantly dominated by men. Speaking there I asked 300 girls, aged 16-18 ‘Who’s interested in working in the technology sector?’ Silence, no-one raised their hands. ‘Who uses Facebook?’ The majority raised their hands. This led to a debate on technology as an enabler. The girls were turned on by what tech can achieve as opposed the technology itself.

Women control 89% of household income, today four of the highest value consumer tech businesses globally today have more female customers than male, Facebook, Groupon, Zynga and Twitter. Moonfruit provides a simple but powerful, design-led DIY website builder for small businesses. 41% of our customers are women, up 20% from last year. The increase in women led businesses and the dominance of female consumers driving the growth of technology consumer markets is clearly a commercial opportunity.

From Consumer to Capital Investment

Coupled with the current buoyant investment climate, this has led to an increase interest in this sector from investors. Jeff Clavier, SoftTech VC gave a thoughtful interview on the matter to Pemo Theodore-Ezebis, Fred and Joanna Wilson strongly support Women 2.0 Founders Lab and Dave McClure and Christine Tsai from 500 Startups fund have around 15% female founders in their 120+ strong portfolio. We are also seeing the rise of women run funds such as Cynthia Padnos’s Illuminate Ventures and funding support programmes like Astia, led by Sharon Vosmek and Simone Brummelhuis.

Technology certainly seems to be a market-leader when it comes to women’s businesses, and I’ll be watching with interest to see how future generations flourish in the business world. Women are also showing astronger representation, and indeed initiative, online, with the phenomena of ‘mummy bloggers’ sweeping the western world. Whole networks and communities are taking off, creating a movement of real significance to women’s lives, that’s something we’re looking to encourage with our intuitive tools. It’s there in the Gen X culture too, with 75% more girls blogging and publishing than boys. My daughter is 3 but is more proficient on an iPad than I am!

From what I’m seeing and experiencing first hand in the tech industry, and even in wider business industries, I feel like there’s a real rising opportunity and resonance for women to express their passions and knowledge, creating businesses which lead on a national and international scale.

About the guest blogger: Wendy Tan White is founder & CEO of Moonfruit, a simple and powerful, design-led DIY website builder for SMBs. Previously, Wendy helped start-up Zopa.com, the first European P2P lending site and Egg.com, the first UK internet bank. Wendy holds a Bachelor’s in Engineering, Computer Science from Imperial College in London and an MA in Future Textiles from Central St Martins. She lives in London with her husband, their 6 yr old son and 3 yr old daughter.

  • http://www.everythingcp.com Celeste Paradise

    Great article! There has been a significant amount of negative press lately regarding lack of VC for female entrepreneurs. It is wonderful to see an inspirational article like this to encourage women to push forward with their goals.

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  • http://putt1ck.blogspot.com Chris Puttick

    There’s a fiar degree of influence from cultural and biological factors. Brits are generally more risk averse, women also tend to be more risk averse. Arguments can be had as to whether gender related risk aversion levels are nature or nurture, of course, but tests have shown a difference.

    I don’t think there are many people in the UK who say or think women can’t be entrepreneurs, as in my lifetime several of more high profile British success stories have been women e.g. Anita Roddick, Martha Lane-Fox. But starting a business, particularly a high-growth one, requires more than anything a willingness to take risk.

  • http://www.gaboom.co.uk Jess Ratcliffe

    Fantastic article with some very inspiring stats. I wish Breaking the Mould was around when I was at school!

  • http://www.competitionhunter.com Iain

    There has never been a better time, but there’s never a bad time either imho.

  • http://www.skilio.com Rebecca Garnett

    Hi,
    Great article.

    I’m female and am the CEO and co-founder of http://www.skilio.com – a live social learning marketplace. We are currently in Open Alpha

    I have found that actually if you have a good idea, belief in yourself and your product, passion and capacity for hard work, then people support you regardless of your gender.

    I came up with the idea for Skilio in July 2010, I gathered my tech team, co-founders and a great board of experienced advisers within three months, and we are now open to our first users.

    Its been a really exciting and rewarding process. I also happen to be a mother of two kids aged 7 and 5 and am doing this from a tiny village in the countryside.

    So I guess my point is, if you have an idea, and you really believe in it – male or female – just go for it and love every moment.

  • http://www.moonfruit.com Wendy Tan-White

    Thanks all :)

    Chris agree about risk profile being key. Hopefully we can encourage a few more male and female entrepreneurs who are teetering on the edge to ‘take the leap’. Also key is the support networks who can help make the journey less scary/lonely. Women 2.0 do a good job there.

    Good luck Rebecca!

  • http://www.debbiegarr.vemma.com Debbie Garr

    Nice article, Wendy. As a former corporate HR Manager turned entreprenuer, it’s so encouraging to see the possibilities for women business owners. I love the fact that so many of us can run an international business from our homes with all the latest technology and innovation. I am fortunate to be part of a venture with virtually no startup costs, little risk, and a stream of residual income. There’s something for everyone, if people are willing to act on their personal vision.

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  • Jennifer Brown

    Great article, and inspiring; however, the investment monies are only in the technology sector. Not all businesses are done solely online, nor will the present technobubble last long, I am amazed that investors are presently so singular with their investments.
    Jen :)

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