I am stating the obvious – or at least what should be obvious – that rejection by a venture capitalist does not automatically equate to sexism. However, of late, the media has started sensationalizing a lot of stories of VC rejection and transposing them as stories of sexism.
These are two different issues, and the cause-effect relationships of the two are ambiguous at best.
In some of these stories, the VCs have exhibited rather stupid behavior, no doubt. However, did they reject the deals because the entrepreneurs were women? I don’t think so. Let’s examine in a bit more detail.
Excerpt from my new book, From eCommerce To Web 3.0.
The e-commerce model of business allows women entrepreneurs to have greater flexibility in their lives. That is probably why we see several mompreneurs launching home-based businesses, and some of them scale to much bigger outfits. Of particular significance are mompreneurs selling baby products online. Here are three inspiring stories of mompreneurs who used their love for babies, clothes, shopping, and sharing to create successful ecommerce ventures.
Women Love To Share
Smocked Auctions sells children’s smocks and other clothing through comment-selling on Facebook. It was started by two friends and mompreneurs, Amy Laws and Nicole Brewer. They met in 2008 while trying to get back in shape after having their first children. They had a lot in common – their sons were of the same age and they soon had little girls. They became great friends and it was in the summer of 2010 while attending a sample sale in Dallas that the idea of doing business together was born.
In my recent post, Women ARE Raising Venture Capital, I said, there is no bias among Silicon Valley VCs against women.
I got an earful on that one.
What? There are hardly any female VCs. So few female CEOs. So few blah blah blah.
Right. Yes. I know. But it is what it is. How is whining going to help us change any of those factors?
I countered with: >>>
There aren’t that many venture-funded fashion e-commerce companies out there. The main reason is that the venture capital business is dominated by men, and typically, women happen to be more in tune with fashion. Ilana Stern is building a very interesting fashion company focused on bridesmaid dresses as the starting point.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start with your personal story. Where are you from? Where were you born and raised and in what kind of circumstances?
Ilana Stern: I’m originally from Los Angeles. I was very close with my family. My dad is actually an entrepreneur of sorts. I was inspired by his hard work and passion for what he does. When I was 18, I left LA and went to the University of Pennsylvania for undergraduate studies. >>>
Chances are you have not heard of Nasty Gal. Well, you should learn about them. They are doing nastily well!
Advertising on Facebook is complicated. You can spend tons of money getting ‘Likes’ without making any sales. Smocked Auctions is very smart about actually ‘selling’ on Facebook. Much to learn!
Sramana: Amy and Nicole, I would like to start by talking a bit about your personal journeys. Where are you from? What circumstances were you raised under?
During this week’s roundtable we had a very interesting discussion on the subject of women, careers, children, and entrepreneurship. Last week, my article Talented Women: Please Do NOT Quit went viral on LinkedIn. As of this writing, the article has received 313,016 views, 8,009 shares, 4,007 Tweets, 891 comments, and 3,100 likes. So we invited readers to come discuss the subject today.
Of course, we also had our regular presentations.
First up, J.T. O’Donnell from Hampton, New Hampshire, pitched Careerealism Media. J.T. had pitched a few years back at one of these free roundtables, and at the time she was thinking of raising money for her career portal business. I advised her to bootstrap, because typically, online media businesses tend to be slow growth, and not appropriate for the venture capital model.
Online Education continues to be a fast-changing field, and various people are working on various aspects of the industry to make a complicated puzzle come together. This conversation explores some of those pieces.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start with introducing our audience to you as well as Academix Direct and CourseTalk.
Karen Francis: My name is Karen Francis. I’m the CEO and Executive Chairman of Academix Direct. I’ve been in my position for just over four years and I come with a strong marketing and general management background. I was fortunate enough to be on the Board of Trustees at Dartmouth College where I got my undergraduate degree. I have a Harvard MBA. That gave me a unique perspective on education and on what’s behind the curtain of putting together an academic institution. I’ve always been very >>>
Sangeeta Banerjee, CEO of apartment society management software firm ApartmentADDA, grew up in a modest environment in Kolkata, India. As a child, Sangeeta faced a lot of ridicule for riding a bicycle to school, plodding through the immense, bustling metropolis that hummed with bus horns, zig-zagging cars, rickshaws, and scooters. She would ride her bicycle to a ferry, then once on the other side of the river, she would take a bus to school. People would tell her to keep her bicycle off the road and in the playground. They felt her parents were careless with their daughter’s safety.
Her parents, however, thought differently. They wanted her to be self-sufficient and know how to take care of herself. They wanted to instil in her the belief that she could do anything and that she was no different from a man.
Despite growing up in a conservative area where girls were not encouraged to do most activities that boys took for granted, she went on to be the first woman to get an engineering degree and the first entrepreneur in her family. Her parents instilled in her the right attitude to become an entrepreneur but it was the support from her mother-in-law that allowed her to become an entrepreneur.
[This interview is featured in my Entrepreneur Journeys book, Bootstrapping With a Paycheck; Also check out my Entrepreneur Journeys book, Seed India – How To Navigate The Seed Capital Gap in India]
Sangeeta (San) Banerjee is the co-founder and CEO of ApartmentADDA.com, an Indian web application company. She holds a degree in electrical engineering from Guindy and earned her master’s from Louisiana State University. Prior to founding ApartmentADDA, she worked for Tata Consultancy Services from 1999 to 2003 and then went on to postgradate education. After graduating from Louisiana State University she worked for Capgemini in Chicago for a year before returning to India to work for SAP India.
Sramana Mitra: Sangeeta, let’s start at the beginning of your story. Where are you from, and what were the circumstances of your childhood?
San Banerjee: I am from Kolkata. I grew up in a very conservative environment. Where I was from, girls were not supposed to ride a bicycle. I went to school on the other end of the city, and I commuted to school by myself. I would ride a bicycle to a ferry, then once on the other side of the river I would take a bus to school. Many people felt that my parents were careless with their daughter’s safety, but my parents really wanted me to be self-sufficient. They wanted me to know how to take care of myself. My belief that I can do anything I want to stems from my parents. I used to face a lot of ridicule for riding a bicycle. They would tell me to stay off the road and tell me to keep my cycle on the playground. >>>