By Amy Schrier (Founder & CEO, MISSION.tv)
As any entrepreneur knows all too well, nothing can begin until the money is raised.
Who to look to? Well, first I start with those that inspire me.
Part of the process, the fun part, is thinking about who are the people who have done what I would like to do? So, lately I have been putting together that list. Those are the people I generally want to ask first for money.
The company I am launching, MISSION.tv, is a digital platform about making a difference in the world. We will produce and curate premium content — video, articles, photos — and create a social community. We will offer the most comprehensive, independent database of volunteer travel opportunities on the Internet, and perhaps of widest interest, we will connect visitors with nonprofit causes so they can, through activism and philanthropy, literally help change the world.
I have worked on the numbers diligently, carefully, thoroughly. I know them like the back of my hand. We have an ambitious but realistic model. We are seeking to raise an angel round now, and plan to generate many millions by the fifth year. This is what we wrote and plan to execute, but the plan doesn’t stop there. When we succeed in meeting our numbers, there will be ways we to expand upon the brand, increase the revenues, grow into the global market of the Internet. I mean… who doesn’t want to make a difference in the world?
So, I put a list together of some of the greatest companies of all time and the entrepreneurs who founded them. Then I Googled them to learn their annual revenue size. The first thing I noticed on the list was there were no women. The list by the way, was Apple/Steve Jobs, $65 billion, Microsoft/Bill Gates $60 billion, Amazon/Jeff Bezos $34 billion, Google/Larry Page + Sergey Brin $29 billion, Ebay/Pierre Omidyar $9 billion, AOL/Steve Case $2 billion, Facebook/Mark Zuckerberg $2 billion.
I began to wonder, were there simply no women who had billion-dollar ideas? I went to Inc. magazine’s list of top 10 women entrepreneurs. None had I ever heard of. All companies were under $100 million, and 60% were under $20 million.
Buddhism teaches you never to get angry or upset about anything, just to observe it and note the information. So, that’s what I did. There must be some purpose for me noting this. I typed right into the Google search bar: Has a woman ever started a billion-dollar company? And the 2nd response on the list was: in bright fuchsia… Miss Dallas 2011 Princess… The Miss Dallas Scholarship Organization, a local division of Miss America. Can you believe that? It’s true.
I emailed my MBA friends… Has woman ever started a billion-dollar company? No one seemed to know for sure. The replies were slow, awkward and uncertain.
Of course we all know women have had billion-dollar ideas. But it is challenging to go from billion-dollar idea up the long and arduous path of venture capitalist acceptance than ends in billion-dollar company. And not one woman has made it yet. It might be helpful if there was affirmative action for investments. Imagine if fifty cents out of every VC dollar went to a woman-founded company. What a different world we would live in ten years from now. I think I would like it better.
This post was originally posted at the Huffington Post.
Photo credit: 37 Signals.
About the guest blogger: Amy Schrier is the Founder and CEO of MISSION.tv, a digital platform about making a difference in the world. Amy is a serial entrepreneur and founded her first company, BLUE in the mid-nineties. Amy is an intrepid world traveler having visited more than 40 countries, most recently volunteering in a Maasai school in Kenya, and doing a program introducing surfing to disadvantaged kids in Bangladesh. Follow her on Twitter at @amyschrier.