Entrepreneurship - the female experience

Noga Tal
Kelly McAllister

FEMALE entrepreneurs have a better chance at fund-raising during the early stages of investment if they have a male co-founder, according to Noga Tal, head of global strategic initiatives at Microsoft for start-ups.

Addressing Digital DNA in Belfast, she said that women have a "very different experience" to men of what it is like to be an entrepreneur.

According to research, 17 per cent of companies around the seed stage are founded by women. But as the company develops, the numbers drop disproportionately, decreasing to 7 per cent and then 3 per cent.

During her talk, Noga claimed that this was due to a funding gap, an issue faced by females not dissimilar to the evident gender wage gap.

There are many different theories as to why this gap exists, according to Noga, who said that all female teams will find it much tougher than men to fund-raise during later stages of business development.

She addressed the issue of gender based bias at the event, explaining that this creates a knock on effect.

She said: “The problem with gender bias for women specifically is that in the start up space they encounter a lot of issues and challenges around their core ability. That is their ability to understand technology and to actually be a CEO of a company.

“Once you have systemic bias it's very hard to fund-raise. Once it's difficult to fund-raise, it's very hard to grow your business and to change perceptions.”

The top challenge women face in the industry, according to Noga, is that only 7 per cent of investing partners are women – a number that hasn't changed in the last five years.

“This is critical, this is a decision-making panel, they decide who to invest in, what type of technologies to invest in and what type of areas to develop,” she added.

Another issue addressed during the talk was that women tend to mingle more with other women and that can be problematic as females have weaker professional networks with ‘most opportunities lying within male networks'.

“Entrepreneurship is one of the most disruptive areas out there, and I meet with entrepreneurs all around the world day in day out.

“I see them finding ways to disrupt and innovate and re-imagine the future and really help build a blueprint for our society, but what I don't see is women.

“Women led companies actually achieve higher, they bring in 12 per cent more revenue than male led companies. They aren't getting funded but are actually being able to do more with less.”

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