When the problem is YOU, what do you do with your start-up?
Dr. Carol Lynn Curchoe

I am in the exact same position (although perhaps slightly less defensible as my company does not yet have large enough data to demonstrate validity), in the exact same geography, likely pitching to many of the same investors, and I can say in no uncertain terms the investment opportunity landscape is just as bleak for men. This argument is reductive, and frankly offensive to men with great ideas only to be rebuffed daily, and you think all we need to do is whip it out and investors will whip out their checkbooks? We work hard to bring ideas to life and rally the right people to drive them forward, and it has nothing to do with our Y chromosome. Yes, you are absolutely right women are held to an unfair standard and pigeonholed and unfortunately absent from both sides of the entrepreneurial process. But, that in no way equates to men having it easy when it comes to raising beaucoup bucks.

I understand your frustrations, better than anyone I suspect. But please don’t vent anger at men. Our road is far from easy.

Imagine you’re an investor on the other side of the table. Do you really turn down a promising, lucrative startup just because it’s a woman at the helm? If you’re motivated by dollars, as all investors are, are you going to pass on an otherwise golden opportunity just because it’s a woman making the pitch? That argument might hold true for a few geezers, but if you’ve pitched as many investors as you claim to, it’s just not plausible that all of them would turn you down for the sole reason you’re a woman if your success so likely.

If most startups are run by men, and most investors turn away those entrepreneurs, then there are plenty of men out there who aren’t being funded. I’m making these numbers up: If 80% of startups are founded by men and 20% by women, and only 10% of each get funded, it stands to reason there are more men receiving investment than women. Yes, this isn’t fair. It should be a meritocracy irrespective of gender, that 10% of all startups get funding. But they don’t for the reasons you articulate. Your situation is shitty and unfair — no doubt about it. But being a man in this arena is far from a guarantee of success. I’ve received all the NOs you have, been rejected as many if not more times than you. I haven’t been rejected because I’m a man, nor have I been favored because I’m a man. The only real truth is that raising money sucks. Hard.

Given all you’ve accomplished, one would think it wouldn’t be so hard to raise a small amount in a bio-tech friendly place like San Diego, so I understand the vexation that leads you to think your gender is what’s holding you and 32ATPs back. Again, I doubt that’s the basis for so many investors. They bet on the horse and the jockey. Are you explaining the horse in a way they understand and are excited about? If they can’t wrap their head around it, they won’t invest. If it’s dull, they won’t invest. Are you the person to do it? You have an impressive background, so there’s likely no doubt as to your ability to execute there. I can see where it’s easy to think this is where men want to invest in other men, but they’d rather invest in success and a story they understand. Consider your pitch and if it’s digestible.

I hope you don’t give up.

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