This is the second of three recaps of the panels addressing issues founding a company with fourteen wonderful women deeply involved in the startup community written by one of the co-organizers of the night, Annika Khan.

Founding a Start-up as a Woman: Overcoming Challenges

Female Founders Photo2This passionate group of founders included Manijeh Goldberg (Privo Technologies), Melanie Berger (Mariwear), Mimi Evans (Fast Turtle Ventures), and Sarah Boisvert (3D Microfactory and Fab Lab Hub) moderated by sponsor Jane Mason  of the Cambridge Trust Company.

Only 9% of venture backed start-ups nationally are founded or co-founded by women. The question came up whether funding depends on pattern recognition and is there a specific pattern that women in particular fall into. The panelists for the most part agreed with the first part of the question that yes, venture capitalists and angel investors tend to look for something that has characteristics of a prior successful venture; however there was consensus that gender alone is not a reason for not being able to fund raise. Funding depends on a strong track record and if you are trying to do something that has never been done before it is going to be difficult to raise money for anyone. If the industry is on the rise, for example 3D printing, it will be easier to obtain funding. There was some sentiment that investors tend to look for a younger version of them. The key in fundraising is to be strong and confident and believe in the idea.

When it comes to work life balance the reality is that both can rarely ever be in complete balance; there will be days where family needs more attention and when work needs more attention. However, the key here is to prioritize and make sure over the long run all areas get the attention they need. In addition, when starting your own business friends and family may think because you work from home you have more free time and you can go to lunch or help run errands but it’s important to say no and stay dedicated to certain working hours.

In terms of leadership style everyone has a natural leadership style and yes, women tend to be more emotional than men but that’s not necessarily a bad thing– it’s just different. It’s important to stick with your natural style because that is who you are and it’s the way you’ll be most effective. In a male dominated industry you may need to learn to fight in order to get ahead, but that doesn’t mean changing who you are.