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10.28.2020

Let’s Eliminate the Glaring Gap

 

Nationally it's known that women entrepreneurs operate with less capital and over fewer funding rounds than men. We also know that the volume of tech entrepreneurs is much lower when comparing women to men. We had hypotheses on why, but we wanted to qualify the extent of the problem, specifically in the state of Florida.

At Embarc Collective, we believe in the adage "a problem measured is half solved." With a deeper understanding of why there are such differences in tech entrepreneurship between women and men, we can root how we will be a part of the solution in data. Through the support of JPMorgan Chase, we were able to conduct our own extensive research throughout 2020 to understand the state of tech entrepreneurship for women in Florida. Today we are presenting you with our findings in our inaugural Glaring Gap report.

 

Access the 2020 Glaring Gap Report

 

In preparing to share these findings, I've been reviewing the data with our team for months - and I'll be honest, it has been difficult to not get discouraged. For example, although the number of women-founded startups in Florida that raised early-stage venture funding increased over time, they still received a disproportionately small share—12%—of early-stage VC dollars over the course of the decade (nationally it was 13% in 2019).

So in sharing the data, we want to not only outline the state of the problem but also move our community on the road to solutions.

 

How Can We Start to Eliminate the Glaring Gap?

Increase the Support for Women-Led Startups: Create support channels to help accelerate the growth of women-led businesses. Our partners at Tampa Bay Wave launched the TechWomen Rising accelerator in August and have been working intensively with 13 women founders to hit the critical growth milestones for their respective businesses. We at Embarc Collective have had the chance to check in regularly with these founders as part of our research for the Glaring Gap report and can reinforce that a dedicated program like TechWomen Rising can not only provide key learnings that founders need to scale, but also a peer community and accountability.

Increase the Number of Women Startup Investors in Florida: The startup investment community does not reflect the demographics of our state. As reported in HBR, diverse investment teams do better than homogenous ones.  We need to find pathways to both grow and diversify the investor base in Florida. In our conversations with accredited women investors, we've often heard that not knowing how to evaluate a startup is a major reason that they don't actively invest in early-stage companies. That is why we have identified 50 women to participate our first Glaring Gap Summit. This is an intensive 3-day training that will give these women the tools to thoroughly evaluate a startup investment opportunity. We've confirmed participants at three stages of their investment career:

    • Accredited Investors: Through learning to invest your assets via angel networks or as a Limited Partner in venture funds, Florida has an opportunity to take a substantial lead in the US as a destination for women-led companies to receive investment.
    • Early-Career Professionals: By developing an investment thesis and engaging in alternative investment practices such as equity crowdfunding, you can gain investing frameworks to yourself for investing future assets into technology startups.
    • College Student Leaders: As an active member of your campus entrepreneurship and investing classes and communities, we can exponentially advance the careers of women in venture capital investing in the state of Florida.

Women will learn from active investors, including:

    • Alexa von Tobel, who led her startup LearnVest to a $250M acquisition by Northwestern Mutual and then launched her own venture fund, Inspired Capital
    • Cheryl Campos, who leads growth for equity crowdfunding at Republic, a great way for new and non-accredited investors to get started
    • Samara Hernandez, who launched her own venture fund, Chingona Ventures

The participants of the Glaring Gap Summit will spend the bulk of the training working with Angela Lee, founder of 37 Angels and professor of VC practice at Columbia Business School. Angela will lead 50 women through her due diligence training, which will turn these women's investment potential into reality. The participants of the Glaring Gap Summit will test their skills by attending Tampa Bay Wave's TechWomen Rising Accelerator Demo Day and conducting a diligence process on a company in that cohort before getting feedback from Angela herself.

Create the Commitment: Not investing in half of the population is a problem for all of us. We need to create accountability for our tech community in Florida to make things better.  All participants of the Glaring Gap Summit will sign a pledge to be part of the solution. I hope that you are as motivated by the data in the Glaring Gap Report to create change.  I invite you to commit to being a part of the solution by signing our Pledge to Eliminate the Glaring Gap.

Together, we can make sure that day by day, more women-led startups are being built and see better outcomes.

I'm committed to improving the state of tech entrepreneurship for women in Florida. Sign the #GlaringGap Pledge with me! Click To Tweet
Lakshmi Shenoy
CEO at Embarc Collective Tampa Bay
Lakshmi Shenoy
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