Female Founders Join Forces with Female VCs to offer Female Founder Office Hours
Today, I’m thrilled to announce that 120+ female founders who’ve raised over $4 billion in capital are joining forces with the 30+ women VCs of All Raise, to offer office hours to female founders. The goal is to help more women raise money and start successful companies.
As background, All Raise launched recently as a group of women VCs dedicated to diversity in female funders and founders. They began hosting office hours for female founders to connect with VCs for 1:1 sessions about fundraising, company-building, hiring and any other topics of service to that founder. Since launching 6 months ago, 1500+ women have signed up for Female Founder Office Hours and 200 have received 1:1 mentoring sessions.
Today, 120+ female founders ranging from the seed stage to public company CEOs are joining as mentors, creating a powerful partnership between the female founder and female VC communities.
Companies with female founders currently account for 15% of total venture capital raised and our goal is to increase that number to 25% in the next 5 years. Female Founder Office Hours will connect founders with tactical fundraising advice, pitch practice, investor introductions and community building from both founders and VCs. The vision is to create a pay-it-forward chain of mentorship for female founders in tech. As women get advice from the group and fundraise, they can join the group and start giving advice to more women. Later stage founders in the group can give advice to earlier stage founders in the group as well.
When I was an investor at FundersClub, I saw hundreds of pitches and I noticed that, on average, women would speak less confidently about their companies than men, even if their traction was comparable. Studies have shown that women underestimate their abilities compared with men but when you only have an hour to convince someone to invest in you, underestimating yourself can be a big disadvantage.
After FundersClub, I started Binti and became a founder myself and went through the fundraising process. The pattern recognition of seeing so many pitches helped me understand how to craft my pitch in a compelling way and successfully raise from some of the top investors in the world, including First Round Capital as my lead investor.
With my investor background, I found myself giving fundraising advice to other female founders as a side passion, helping them tailor their messages to accurately convey how awesome they were, as well as introduce them to my investors. Many of them successfully raised and told me it was helpful. It was frustrating that I was too busy running my own company to do this for more female founders.
Several months ago, I started asking female founder friends of mine if they’d be interested in teaming up with me to offer fundraising office hours to female founders. The response I got was incredible and heartwarming. The female founders, who are incredibly busy, were over the top excited to get involved. Women sent me notes about how needed this is and offered to help in any way they could.
Right around this time, I was at a dinner of women in tech, and I met Jess Lee of Sequoia Capital, who is a founder turned investor. Jess shared my passion for helping more women start companies and we immediately hit it off. Jess had recently launched Female Founder Office Hours as part of All Raise, which were offering office hours from 30+ women VCs to female founders at live events across the country. They’d seen an amazing response from female founders who’ve gone to their events. I told her the idea I was working on. I also told her I had actually recently bought the domain name femalefounderofficehours.com for my idea. She told me she had tried to buy it and was really confused who had bought it. :) We spent several hours brainstorming ideas and decided to join forces and bring the two powerful communities of female VCs and female founders together. We also decided to expand FFOH to be more than live events, to also offer 1:1 sessions in person or remotely to expand the reach and number of office hours we can offer. Read Jess’ announcement of the founder/VC partnership.
Female founders joining our efforts have all raised at least $2M and we have seed stage founders through late stage founders, including Katrina Lake of StitchFix, Julia Hartz of Eventbrite, Adi Tatarko of Houzz, Emily Weiss of Glossier.
Women can now apply for office hours with either female founders or VCs. In those sessions, they can get tactical fundraising advice and pitch practice — and the sessions can occur in person or remotely. If any of the mentors find a company particularly compelling, that company’s information will be circulated to the entire network, helping open new doors and funding opportunities and helping women break into the inner network of top startup investors.
We’ve tried to incorporate intersectionality from the beginning. The experiences of women of color can be different than the experiences of white women. We let founders filter by women of color in the mentor network if they’d like to request mentoring from one of them.
In addition to the advice and connections, we’re hopeful that establishing this group can help amplify the voices of the amazing founders in the group. When I was starting out as a founder, I found myself wanting female founder role models who were further along than me. Starting a company is hard enough, but when you don’t see a lot of people that look like you starting and succeeding, it can be unwelcoming. I’m hopeful that the women in this group can serve as inspiration for more women to believe they can take the plunge and start a company as well.
To that end, we’ve made it easy to follow all the women in the female founder and female VC group on Twitter with one click.
If you are a female founder looking to fundraise or a female founder that has raised $2M+ that wants to mentor, we’d love to hear from you.