Where are all the women tech entrepreneurs, donde estan toda las Latina Tech Entrepreneurs? I recently shared a post on #LatinaGeeks Facebook page in regards to this topic which I found interesting on Forbes.com. The article mentioned that the number of technology companies founded by women is only 3%. This is despite the fact that women-led private technology companies get 35% higher return on investment, that the venture-backed ones have 12% higher revenue, and that women-owned companies with $10M in revenue have 47% higher growth than the average 10M in revenue company. Sadly, as I continued to read the article it made me think, out of that 3%, how many of them are Latinas?
When I first entered the e-commerce digital space back in 2003, it wasn’t uncommon to be one of the few only female entrepreneurs. In fact at tech events, till this day, as I attend StartUp events, I am sometimes still the only Latina. Again and again, where are all the Latina geeks?
What holds us back?
Afraid To Take Risks: Could it be that as women, we are afraid to take chances or aren’t confident in ourselves? I’m not sure if this is true because according to an article on Latino.FoxNews.com, women-owned firms contribute $3 trillion annually to the U.S. economy and account for 16% of all jobs. The article also mentions that women entrepreneurs will create 5 to 5.5 million new jobs across the U.S. by 2018 – more than half of the total new small-business jobs expected to be created during that time, and about one-third of the total new jobs anticipated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But I ask you, how many of those ladies will start the next tech company? Could it be that starting a tech startup isn’t considered feminine enough? In a recent Inc. article on leadership found that decisiveness, confidence and resilience are the most desirable qualities in a leader, but they are all viewed as male traits. The same article says that stereotypically female traits – empathy, vulnerability, inclusiveness, generosity, balance, humility and patience – are what make great leaders today. But let’s face it ladies, if you’re trying to get funded, those traits aren’t going to help you raise venture money.
Can We Balance Career and Family: Balance between work and personal life is not only tough on women, but for everyone. Most common question I always get asked by both females and males is how do I balance my career and family? My response to that is respecting everyone’s time and being disciplined with time management. Time management is possible, it’s not a myth at all. Guess what ladies, even men feel guilty for not being able to share family time with their loved ones. I have these conversations with successful men all the time.
Tech is a Man’s World: A respected tech mentor and adviser of mine told me once that as a woman, my ‘girls” could open doors for me. I think you know what I mean by “girls” right? Basically, because I was well endowed in the chest area, it meant that was reason enough for opportunities to open up for me. No doubt he meant it to pay me a compliment and at the time I did laugh about it, but, it was sexist. And this came from a man who truly wanted to help me succeed with my e-commerce company. He offered to review agreements and contracts for me and would advise on what steps to take to lead me towards the next successful business decision. I don’t think he even registered his comment as sexist because, in his generation, it probably wasn’t, it was a joke. To many male believers, women can only get funded if they marry successful (male) entrepreneurs. Obviously this is not true, but some men still think this way. Are you going to let sexist comments stand in your way?
So I ask you these questions amigas, are Latinas capable enough to dream up big companies? Are they comfortable to have and express their big ideas to the world? Can Latinas be a part of the 3% of women tech entrepreneurs?
Listen, male or female, launching a tech startup is exhausting, and stressful, just like any business. Being an entrepreneur requires determination, passion and thick skin. If you have what it takes and you’re willing to take up the challenge, there are accelerators that can help you get started or at least guide you towards that direction. It’s no secret, the tech scene is full of guys, but there’s organizations across the country that are more than willing to improve the startup odds for women. No more excuses ladies, we can make a difference and we can show the world that we are capable of possible being the next Mark Zuckerburg or Steve Jobs. Let’s increase that 3% of women tech entrepreneurs.
You have an idea, but not sure how to get started?
If you’re interested in getting your start-up into an accelerator there’s no shortage of options. Fortunately for you ladies, now there are so many to choose from. I wish these resources were available to me when I launched my first start-up. It would’ve saved me tons of time and money. But the great thing now, is that they exist for you to make your dream come true.
If you want to see your company get into an accelerator, here are a few interesting ones that we recommend:
Manos Accelerator has developed a robust program that incorporates all the necessary aspects of launching and maintaining a successful business venture from product development to pitch strategy. Through a selection process, Manos will identify 6-8 early-stage startup teams and have them complete a unique 3-month “boot-camp” program of intense collaboration designed to help them exponentially increase their business reach. Manos Accelerator will assist these startup teams in developing scalable and innovative solutions serving both the Hispanic and general markets. The goal of the 3-month program is to provide aspiring Latino entrepreneurs and promising ventures with mentorship from successful domain experts, educational and development opportunities, free office space, and a range of free and discounted services. As a participant of Manos Accelerator, startup teams are expected to achieve certain milestones and graduate with a lean startup that is ready to conquer the world. Each cohort session culminates in a Demo Day where participants will demonstrate their product or service to a crowd of entrepreneurs, angel investors, and venture capitalists
K5Launch is a three-and-a-half month accelerator program, which primary objective is to help entrepreneurs build a lean, mean, and sustainable startup. The two basic goals of the program are to develop/finalize a proof of concept and to perform market validation. Selected teams receive equity funding of up to $25k along with approximately $50k worth of legal, web, and PR services from our partners. Most importantly, our teams receive intensive personalized mentorship for the duration of the program. We work with entrepreneurs on their roadmap and their next goal, which is typically further funding by angel investors or venture capital firms. K5Launch graduates will have the chance to present their company to our extensive network of investors. K5Launch typically takes on average 6-8% position in a company. They want to be considered part of the founding team, and will not ask for anything unreasonable. Why? Because once you’re accepted into K5Launch, they become one team. By taking equity, they’re betting on you, and it’s in their best interest to arm you for success. The K5Launch program is designed to prepare you for the next defining moment in your company’s growth, which is typically a next major round of equity financing.
The 500 Startups Accelerator experiments with early-stage startup formulas for explosive growth with a mixture of up to $250K in funding, superhuman mentors & designers in residence, platform-specific strategies for customer acquisition, a creative workspace and lots more awesomeness. With hundreds of experienced startup mentors around the world, their creative work space in the heart of Silicon Valley, and a vibrant community of startup founders, where they help companies succeed.
Women Innovate Mobile (WIM) is the first startup accelerator focused exclusively on launching and accelerating the growth of women-founded companies in mobile technology. Through its network of mobile experts, mentors and investors, WIM provides women entrepreneurs with the tools, feedback and connections needed to launch and scale their mobile ventures.
The NewMe accelerator is a 12-week program for businesses led by underrepresented minorities, specifically African Americans, Latinos, and women. This one is intense—if your start-up is selected you’ll hole up with seven others in a house in Mountain View, Calif.
MuckerLab is a mentorship-driven startup accelerator focused on serving Internet software, services and media entrepreneurs in Los Angeles and broader Southern California. MuckerLab aims to accelerate the growth of the overall technology ecosystem in Los Angeles by filling a critical gap currently in the market for start-ups at the earliest stages – resources, infrastructure, capital and guidance. Their partners and mentors work side-by-side with the region’s best entrepreneurs, enabling them to build, launch, and raise financing for exceptional businesses. Portfolio companies go through a structured, 3 to 6 month-long program that provides them with funding, office space and access to a deep mentor network of top-tier investors and entrepreneurs.
Launchpad LA offers each accepted company a $100,000 investment, free office space in the heart of Santa Monica (one block from the beach) for four months, a ton of perks and discounts, and most importantly, access to a massive network of mentors, advisors, and investors. In 2012, Launchpad LA invested in 18 companies, 17 of which raised outside capital – over $30 million combined. Launchpad LA is ranked the #5 accelerator in the United States by Forbes, has the highest median funding rate of any accelerator in the world according to Seed-DB, and is described by PandoDaily as “the top accelerator in Southern California.” Launchpad LA was founded as a mentorship organization in 2009 with the goal of helping talented local entrepreneurs build relationships, get funded, and grow while remaining in Southern California. Launchpad LA began as a collaboration among the area’s top VCs with a shared interest in seeing a robust tech community continue to grow and thrive in Los Angeles.
There you have it ladies, you have been provided with valuable resources to make an idea happen. Now all you have to do is innovate.