Amidst a 50 strong audience of VCs, Investors, Entrepreneurs and Man-bassadors, TLA Women in Tech held their 2016 kick off event on 26th February with the subject of Funding for Females, the first of their 5 major focus areas the working group are attacking this year.
Joined by a high quality panel and facilitator, the event kicked off with an open and inspiring conversation led by Helene Panzarino, Entrepreneur, Business Advisor and the author of recently published “Funding for Dummies”. Panzarino directed the conversation to Vicky Brock founder of Clear returns, aka Buffy the vampire slayer, known for her long leather coat she wore during her quest to find funding. Brock spoke about the commitment it requires to launch a business and some of the key aspects founders need to consider including starting with your business strategy and funding strategy simultaneously, getting straight into why the customer would buy from you, and clarity on whether the business had the potential to scale.
Angel Academe founder and investor in Clear Returns Sarah Turner brought insight into how effectively women understand what they are trying to achieve with their business, and whether funding was the right approach. She encouraged entrepreneurs to get proof that their business was viable, and to be able to present their business case as well as their growth plans to any investor. Turner also recognised that entrepreneurs are often not educated in the different ways they can be funded and may attempt VC funding way too early in the stage of their business growth.
The VC Octopus Ventures, also the host and sponsor of the event was represented by George Whitehead, a partner with a keen interest in Female led businesses, was succinct and clear with his 3 step approach –
1. Be straight talking – be aligned with your objectives as well as your exit strategy.
2. Be bold – have the confidence to realise people want to help.
3. Snowball your contacts – ask them who else they can introduce you to – get connecting. He demystified the VC process encouraging the audience and repeating the messages that there is a time and place for different types of investment.
Interested in helping people get access to early stage investments and founder of Grant Tree, Paulina Sygulska provided insight into how the government was looking to support new businesses, as long as they also had ‘skin in the game’. She referred to Ms Brock as Clear returns has utilised most forms of investment over time, and shared her experience of supporting small businesses in exploring the benefits and consequences of investment -all investment has a cost, how much are you willing to pay?
As this is a Working Group – the team were then split into 4 groups facilitated by the core panel and invited to work on a challenge from ‘How to get more women angel investing’, to ‘How do we ensure women have equal access to funding sources’? Ideas and suggested actions were plentiful, and resulted in some key recommendations that are attached.
There was universal enjoyment and appreciation for the workshop and event, and as well as awareness about how much more we all need to learn about the world of funding, there was also a general agreement that asking for help and offering to help others is at the core of resolving the Funding for Females challenge.
Outputs of the workshop can be found here