It's a great time for hard tech female founders!
There have been many women-led businesses who became "unicorns" in the past few months, namely Glossier, Rent the Runway and now Away.
Great news for female founders! But did you know that the newer, lesser-known female founders in areas outside of beauty, fashion, e-commerce, etc. are also on the rise?
I have been a venture investor for the past 9 years and an entrepreneur before that. I have invested in the areas outlined in my book
– Blockchain, AI, VR/AR, and Robotics. I was inspired to write the book after speaking to a large Blockchain focused fund in December. When I asked how many female founders were in their portfolio he asked me if they even existed in these fields. At that moment, I thought it was my moral imperative to show him what he was missing. Of course they do! They just didn't know how to find each other. So I decided to write "WTF Is Happening? Women Tech Founders on the Rise" to showcase a dozen female founders in these areas and make the business case for investing in them.
The data is overwhelming. Female founders still only receive 2% of venture funding while building companies at a higher rate and then outperforming. As an investor, this represents an alpha-generating opportunity and I wanted more investors to be aware of it. Everyone wants to make money! Women need more capital to build businesses that build future technology. We cannot have new technology that only reflects half the population's input.
Also, showcasing these 13 women is just a start for getting more women and girls to join. Most of the media coverage on female founders is around fashion, e-commerce, and beauty — not around these technologies because they are newer and not yet "unicorns". It is exactly because they are newer that there is opportunity for parity and breaking patterns from traditional tech and finance industries.
"We cannot have new technology that only reflects half the population's input."
One of the biggest takeaways from writing the book and interviewing a dozen of accomplished female founders in these emerging markets is that you do not need a STEM degree to succeed. Entrepreneurship in frontier technologies can take many forms and backgrounds. Even so, STEM is marketed poorly to young women — it should not be seen as a scary territory, but rather a field of opportunities to envision, design and innovate.
The fact that Glossier, Rent the Runway and Away are making headlines is great news – it further supports why investing in women is a good decision not only morally, but economically. But the next set of headlines is going to be about women in hard tech categories. You don't want to miss out on that, do you?