The number of female founders has been consistently low for many years, even though there are now numerous support projects and available contact points. What does it take to really help female entrepreneurs to succeed? It’s quite clear: More female investors! A recent study showed, that the majority of women, who are willing to invest in start-ups, are eager to support other female entrepreneurs.
There are just under 16 percent of female founders or start-ups with female participation – this has been the average figure in Germany for years. Low enough. And astonishing, since all studies prove, that diverse teams are more successful. But on the other side, it looks even more bitter: only 8 percent of the investors in Europe are female. One might think that women are simply not risk-taking enough, have too little money or lack of interest in the topic. Far from it! In order to get to the bottom of the actual data, to gain scientific knowledge and to take appropriate, targeted measures, Svenja Lassen, the Managing Director Germany of the start-up investor network primeCROWD, together with Prof. Dr. Alexandra Wuttig from the Chair of Entrepreneurship at IUBH, conducted a research project in the first quarter of 2020. Their survey reached more than 3000 women, 350 of whom actively participated.
The thrilling results:
- Women are interested and concerned with financial investments: 51% invest actively and only 17.5% save their money
- Start-up investment is relevant for many women: 63.4% have already thought about investing in start-ups
- But only 17,7% are already active as BA, i.e. 45,7% would like to invest, but have not yet done so
- Women are not as risk-averse as they as it may seem: 67% are aware of the risks of investing in start-ups and yet are not afraid of them
- More female investors mean more investing impact and an improvement in society as a whole: 68% would like to do good deeds with their investment
- However, women do not see investment as charity: 61% of them consider financial returns crucial
- Know-how transfer: 60% of female investors want to share their experience and knowledge with others
- More female investors mean more female founders: 62% want to support mainly female founders
The last point proves the assumptions of the initiators. And because their goal is to make the start-up ecosystem more balanced, they also inquired what women have been missing so far, in order to become and remain active as investors:
- 80% want advice for female investors
- 71% do not know any suitable start-ups
- 67% lack knowledge in investment process
- 65% want better communication with the start-ups
- 60% would like better documentation and presentation of the start-ups
So what needs to be done to encourage more women to enter the start-up asset class and use their influence? First and foremost, it is important to have a contact point, a network where they can get information, education and advice. In monthly Lunch & Learn sessions, Svenja Lassen und Alexandra Wuttig always devote themselves to an investment topic, taking up the wishes and questions of the community or introducing role models, who openly report on their experiences, in order to inspire others. This visibility is, of course, necessary also for female founders. For this reason, primeCROWD organises a purely female meet-up for its female investors every quarter, where the network presents the best three start-ups by women or with female participation. This gives the opportunity to female founders to pitch explicitly in front of female investors and talk to them.
Now, however, the main task is to spread the topic across the media and all networks, in order to reach as many women as possible and to make them aware of the social importance of this subject. If more women know, that as angels they can use their money and experience to consciously promote innovation and ensure that companies with women at C-levels receive funding, they will have a significant long-term influence on making our economy more feminine, fairer and more successful.
Svenja Lassen is a trained journalist and coach. After writing for COSMOPOLITAN about women entrepreneurs and their business ideas for over a decade, she wanted to do more to support innovation. Since 2018, she has been the Managing Director Germany and is responsible for building the European start-up investor network primeCROWD in Germany. The first thing she noticed in the venture capital scene: there are hardly any women. Changing that is her mission, because for her, diversity is key to success. Therefore, after conducting the study, Svenja founded a separate sector for female investors, which includes special education, service and mediation for female investors and start-ups.