By Katherine Hague (Marketing, ecobee) I want to see more female entrepreneurs as much as anyone. But at the same time I think that we tend to undervalue the power of being in the minority.
It’s important to acknowledge the opportunities that come with being a female founder, rather than focusing on those aspects that might make it less than ideal. Here are 7 Reasons Why its Better to Be a Female Founder: #1 -- You stand out. When you’re one of a handful of women at an event, or sometimes even the only woman, like it or not you get noticed. As an entrepreneur, this can be a huge advantage. Most entrepreneurs would rather get noticed then blend into the crowd. Use the attention to your advantage. Be ready for it, because if you find yourself in the spotlight it's nice if you have something to say…
#2 -- People remember your name. In line with the last point, if you stand out and get noticed, people are more likely to remember your name. If you meet 40 men and 3 women at an event, aren’t you more likely to remember the details of your conversation with the 3 women? And it isn’t even a gender thing. If the numbers were reversed, wouldn’t you be more likely to remember the men? Anything that gets your name remembered certainly makes that follow-up email a whole lot easier!
#3 -- You make a better story. I hope that one day a woman starting a tech company will not be front-page news. However the sad, but honest, truth is that it still is. Michael Arrington has stated outright that TechCruch actively seeks out women focused events and startups to cover. Until the day that female founded startups are par for the course, women in tech have a huge advantage when it comes to media. Let’s face it, you make a better story.
#4 -- Investors want you in their portfolio. Lots of investors that find themselves with portfolios made up entirely of male founders. Even where there is a female founder on the team, they are rarely in technical roles. Are these investors sexist? From my experience, the answer is overwhelmingly, NO. While someone may not invest in a company just for the sake of balancing out the gender ratio of their portfolio (or at least I hope they would not!). If a qualified investment also offered some gender balance, it certainly wouldn’t hurt. Not to mention after investing in a female founded startup, that investor would likely breathe a quiet sigh of relief that no one could accuse them of having sexist investment practices.
#5 -- You bring a unique perspective. As a woman you can bring a different perspective to the companies you start. There are countless examples of men building products for women, without any input from women! Women may not be an alien species, but it’s sometimes good to be part of your target market. As a female founder you may even be more likely to think of an idea that men in the same industry hadn’t thought of yet. Differences shouldn’t be overemphasized, but at the same time we shouldn’t undervalue the fact that as a woman you have a unique set of experiences to bring to the table.
#6 -- There are events, grants, programs, and awards just for you! In an effort to combat the gender ratio problem in tech, many initiatives have popped up to support and recognize female entrepreneurs. A few examples that just scrape the surface are Women 2.0, Girl Geek Dinners, Dell Women’s in Entrepreneur Network, Ladies Who Launch, The Next Women and Astia. These are just some of the amazing resources offered exclusively to women. Could you imagine the uproar if similar organizations or awards existed just for men! My god, there would be hell to pay. So long as there aren’t enough female founders. They are amazing ways accelerate your development, build a network, or get exposure.
#7 -- The community wants you to succeed. We all want to see more female founders. We want to see women kick ass and build successful companies. The more successful women there are in this industry, the more attractive entrepreneurship will look to young girls. As a community, we tend to offer a little added support and encouragement to women. As a woman, you can leverage the added support of the community to more easily find the mentors and networks of people that everyone needs to succeed.
There are a lot of guys that would kill to have access to the opportunities outlined above.
Rather than focus on some of the negatives that may come from being a woman in a male dominated industry, we need to shift our focus to those times when it is in fact an advantage. Isn’t entrepreneurship in general about turning challenges into opportunities?
About the guest blogger: Katherine Hague is a 20 year old aspiring entrepreneur currently working as Marketing Manager at Toronto startup ecobee. She has a passion for technology and entrepreneurship and have spent the past fews years active in the Toronto Startup community, is long time member of the Impact Entrepreneurship Group and is now working as a business development and communications consultant. Katherine blogs at www.katherinehague.com. Follow her on Twitter at @KatherineHague.