Did you know that although there has been an increase in the number of female entrepreneurs, the people who hold the purse strings on funding are primarily male venture capitalists. Only about 2% of all venture funding goes to female entrepreneurs. Oh, and I am not done. Did you know that people at VCs ask different questions to male entrepreneurs and female entrepreneurs. According to an article written in the Harvard Business Review, venture capitalists “tend to ask questions about potential for gains and women about the potential for losses.”
As a Gen Z-er, college freshman and an aspiring entrepreneur, learning about this gender disparity is disappointing but it makes me even more determined to educate and empower myself to close this gap. It will not stop my entrepreneurial mindset.
This summer, I have had an amazing opportunity to intern at a brand new start-up, Balloon, a next-gen social media platform and work for a female entrepreneur, Yuki Kotani, on grassroots marketing. (Yuki Kotani co-founded Balloon along with JJ Sandgreen. Yuki also co-founded Harboring Hearts and champions for female entrepreneurs through SheWorx.)
I was first exposed to entrepreneurship during my freshman year in high school. I took a Design, Draft and Production class where I was able to create something from nothing. Then came the tv show, Shark Tank, and I started to think that maybe I could do something like that.
Could I be an entrepreneur and create products and businesses that people would want?
The summer after my freshman year in high school, I participated in a summer leadership program. During this program, people were divided into groups and I was chosen as a leader for one of the teams. We were tasked with a goal to create lesson plans and classworks for the younger students. We successfully completed our projects and I was awarded a scholarship from the program for best exemplifying the qualities of a leader. This award helped me believe in myself that I could be an entrepreneur.
At the end of my sophomore year in high school, I had to decide on my major. I chose to pursue a software major because I wanted to learn to code and build something from scratch. My education in computer science combined with my interest in business prompted me to search for opportunities in the tech sector after graduation.
When I came across the Community Engagement internship at Balloon, I knew immediately that this an opportunity I wanted.
So what is Balloon?
It is new social media app for people who have a lot of interests and love to collaborate with friends. It’s a next-gen platform where you can showcase all the things you love in a organized way.
Working at Balloon, a start-up, is fun and challenging. It is fast-paced and I love that everyday is different. I am constantly learning from the business side of startups, to product development to marketing strategies. I provide direct support to the Balloon team and it is exciting to see my feedbacks and comments come to life on the app. This is an experience that I am fortunate to have and I can’t wait to see how the app will continue to grow.
While working for Yuki I learned that I was not alone in my dreams of becoming an entrepreneur. There are communities that help and inspire females to pursue a career in entrepreneurship and leadership. I was introduced to the SheWorx community by Yuki and I was fortunate to be able to attend to an event during my time as Balloon intern. I met other females who were entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs, leaders, aspiring leaders, hustlers and dreamers. It was a very welcoming environment and it further fired my passion for entrepreneurship.
Observing and learning from Yuki, I understand that the world of startups is difficult and it is a rollercoaster ride. There are lots of highs and lows. According to an article in Fast Company, “Why Most Venture Backed Companies Fail,” 75 percent of venture-backed startups fail. In order to succeed as a entrepreneur, you need to be fearless, persistent, flexible and tenacious.
Join me and start on your path of becoming an entrepreneur. Balloon is currently looking for high school and college students to be Balloon Ambassadors. As an ambassador, you will be able to work directly with the Balloon team and influence the product. Send your resume and a list of social media apps you use to firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject line: Name — School.