Geri Stengel

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How To Create An Entrepreneurial Community When No One Is Nearby

Sara Davidson needed a boost to grow her own business. But, as a woman entrepreneur in the Midwest, she had trouble finding kindred spirits.

The midwest consists of 12 states in the north central United States: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. It does have cities that are among the top 25 metro areas for women entrepreneurs including Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis and St Louis, according to Julie Weeks, president and CEO of Womenable, which researches and recommends policies and programs to promote women entrepreneurship.

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Angels Ignite Blazing Growth for Women Entrepreneurs, More Fuel Needed

Venture capital decision-makers don’t seem to recognize the investment value of women-led companies. Women investors do, thank you very much. While male VCs are turning their backs on good investments, women angels are not. More than one in four angel investors are now women, an impressive 318% growth in the last 10 years.

With the rise of female angel investors, angel-backed, women- led companies has risen as well. Again that magic number: more than one in four angel-backed companies are women-led, a dramatic jump of 234% in 10 years. This is the second of a two-part discussion of impact women angels have on supporting the growth of women-led companies.

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Angels Change The Ratio For Women Entrepreneurs

Women build and leverage the ecosystem
While venture capital’s track record with women makes you want scream with frustration, the new angel numbers will make you want to jump for joy. For nearly all metrics, the numbers hit record heights in 2014, according to the Center for Venture Research, which researches angel investments. In 2014:

  • 26% of all angels were women, increasing by an impressive 43% from the previous year.
  • 36% of all companies seeking funding were women, increasing by a whopping 83% from the previous year.
  • 28% of all companies receiving funding were women-run, a substantial 44% increase.
  • 15% of all women-run companies succeeded in raising capital vs 22% for their male counterparts. “Typically, when there is a surge in the number of entrepreneurs seeking angel funding, the overall yield [success rate] goes down,”  said Jeffrey E. Sohl, director of Center for Venture Research. The 15% success rate is within the historic norms for entrepreneurs raising capital from angels.

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Growing Companies Have Financing Alternatives

Jamie Kent needed money to grow Yoga Download. But she didn’t qualify for the bank loan she wanted and she didn’t want to give up equity to investors. She found another solution — revenue-based financing from Lighter Capital.

Kent started Yoga Download in 2007 to provide yoga that was more affordable and accessible. Someone on the beach or at home could have access. Initially, she provided audio downloads that could be played on an iPod or MP3 player. But when online technology advanced and streaming video became common place, she knew she had to offer video because her competition was. But producing video was much more expensive.

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10 Life Lessons For Getting Where You Want To Go

The meteoric rise to the top is a nice story but it doesn’t match reality. Obstacles overcome and setbacks endured are part of every success. It is out of these experiences that life-lessons are learned. I had the good fortune to meet Gillian Zoe Segal at a dinner party. She shared with me her book, Getting There: A Book of Mentors. I’ve summarized some of the lessons that the women entrepreneurs Segal interviewed learned on their rise to the top.

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Brands Hear Women Entrepreneurs Roar

Target women entrepreneurs and profit
Look out marketers, there is a revolution coming! Women with money, power and influence are tired of having their needs ignored. Consumer-product companies don’t seem to get it and business-to-business vendors are even more clueless.

Faith Popcorn, futurist, author of EVEolution: The Eight Truths of Marketing to Women, and founder and CEO of marketing consulting firm, Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve,  thinks there’s a huge pot of gold waiting for companies that meet the needs of women entrepreneurs. No surprise, I couldn’t agree more. A vast majority – 79% — of women will try a brand that supports women-owned businesses, according Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the leading certifier of women-owned businesses that sell to corporations and large government organizations.

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How Crowdfunding Is Closing The Funding Gap

There’s no doubt about it: Women entrepreneurs face more obstacles than their male counterparts raising money, but some women are finding that crowdfunding is a way around those obstacles.

Stand Out In the Crowd: How Women (and Men) Benefit From Equity Crowdfunding, research I just completed, finds that the successes of pioneering women entrepreneurs show the way to financing that will work well for other women who are starting and growing companies.

When I started the research, I thought I would focus only on women entrepreneurs marketing their securities via crowdfunding platforms. But there were larger stories.

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Is Tennessee The New Hotspot for Women Entrepreneurs?

Look out California and New York, Tennessee is on the rise and it’s attracting women entrepreneurs with really interesting businesses. Launch Tennessee’s (LaunchTN) is a public-private partnership focused on supporting the development of high-growth companies in Tennessee. An impressive 30% of graduates from its recent masterclass, which draws from nine accelerator programs across the state, are female founders.

Lucy Beard moved from Silicon Valley to Chattanooga. Her company, Feetz, is a ‘Digital Cobbler’ that uses  3-D printing technology to make custom shoes and delivers them within 7 days. She just raised $1.25 million  from Khosla Ventures, which led the investment round, and was joined by Chattanooga-based JumpFund and former Reebok Inc. Chief Executive Uli Becker.

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How to Get The Attention Of Investors In-person And Online

Getting the attention of your audience is the only way you can ask someone for something. When the stakes are high, as they are when you are pitching investors for raise money your business, you can’t afford to be less than perfect.

Imagine my delight when I bumped into Sam Horn at SXSW. She’s a presentation coach, pitch consultant, intrigue expert who also works with women participating inSpringboard Enterprises , an accelerator program for women-led technology, media, and life sciences businesses. I was even more delighted when she told me about  her new book, Got Your Attention?: How to Create Intrigue and Connect with Anyone.

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Clear Purpose Drives Entrepreneurial Success

Women control 80% of all consumer purchases but, with so many media options, reaching female consumers has become increasingly difficult. As a marketer for a large corporation, Aliza Freud recognized this as a major pain point. In 2007, she launched SheSpeaks’ to help brands better understand female consumers and what motivates them.

Shespeaks’ started attracting a lot of influential female bloggers. These women wanted to amplify their voices and spread their opinions far and wide. The company pivoted when Freud realized that she could not only provide insights from influencers but could use them to the spread the word about products and services they liked. In an industry that doesn’t stand still — and these days what industry does? — Freud has learned the importance of adaptability. She’s built adaptability into the DNA of her company and yet stays committed to its original purpose — understanding what women want and sharing their insights with others.

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