Women in Startups

Bee-Suite to C-Suite - Mikaila Ulmer - SXSW 2019 - Photo by Bianca Hooks

It’s no secret that in the startup and VC world women often receive less funding than men, while other marginalized communities receive even less funding. This trend is seen in all aspects of business – even in this new decade – as evidenced by things like the wage gap and the growing, but still disproportionate, number of womxn – cis women, as well as trans women and non binary folks – in senior leadership positions. In startups, womxn are tired of this unequal precedent. Since the status quo has held them down, they’ve found their own way to subvert existing systems. They start their own companies, they create their own VC firms, and then once they become established they start all over again – all in the name of making things easier for the women coming up behind them and changing they system from within.

These women have found a way to break through and are turning back to help other women, and otherwise overlooked people, get to the top. Join them in creating the world that we’ve always wanted to work in during Startups Track sessions.

Opening the Door So Everyone Can Level Up With You

Female-founded companies receive only 2.2 percent of VC funding, and it’s even worse for those starting gender-neutral businesses. Many famous female-led unicorns from 2018 and 2019 were companies like Glossier, Rent the Runway and Third Love, all of which cater mostly to women. Crunchbase found gender-neutral businesses get 54 percent less funding than female-founded businesses that are female-focused. In a discussion moderated by Sarah Koch of the Case Foundation, Renee Wittemyer of Pivotal Ventures, Kristen Sonday of Paladin, and Sky Kelley of Avisare explore how women can find big success in building businesses outside of traditionally female-focused fields in Female Founders Breaking Out of the Beauty Aisle

We’re entering a new age, one where entrepreneurs want to create solutions to improve the human experience and quality of life without playing a zero-sum game. This is the age of the zebra. In Zebras vs Unicorns: Money & Power in the Valley Jennifer Brandel (Hearken), Astrid Scholz (Sphaera), Aniyia Williams (Black & Brown Founders), and Mara Zepeda (Switchboard) will break down why purpose and profit do not have to be mutually exclusive, why creating alternatives to the venture capital status quo is a moral and economic imperative, and how innovation in business financing can help us solve the world’s big challenges.

In a world of chaos and gender bias, we need to create the change we want to see. In the first half of 2019, 13 female CEOs took companies public, all backed by angel investors. This made a meaningful impact on the percentage of women running public companies in America. Amy Nelson (The Riveter) and Hitha Palepu (Rhoshan Pharmaceuticals) – two working moms from diverse backgrounds who were both corporate employees turned entrepreneurs now invested in startups – will discuss why they are focusing on the next wave of startups led by women and people of color. Their goal is simple — improve representation in the entrepreneurial landscape and propel the next generation of women who will change the world. Hear more from them in Mother Investors: Angel Investing for Change.

Expand Your Network With Other Powerful Womxn

Join the networking event for female founders who are interested in securing funding for their companies. Nicole Swartz (Sprout Law) will lead women during Women + Funding Meet Up in sharing funding resources, tips, tricks, and successes. Hosted by an attorney for female founders, attendees will learn how to set up a company for funding, create pitch decks, and attract investors.

More Womxn Making Moves

Though these sessions come from various places across the 22 Tracks of Conference programming, they expand further on different ways women are thriving within the tech industry, startup world, and more through being true leaders of business.

Browse More Startups Track Sessions

For more sessions that cover startup culture – from getting funded to achieving unicorn status, and more – browse through the Startups sessions.

This Interactive Track gives primary access to Platinum and Interactive Badges while Film and Music Badges enjoy secondary access.

Browse all sessions on the SXSW Schedule and add events to your Favorites list to start planning your SX adventure.

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Featured Image by Bianca Hooks

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