Why Not You.
Last week I went to a dinner hosted by a venture capital firm here in LA.
It was pretty much everything that triggers my insecurities—a room full of people ‘networking’ who immediately pass you their business card and try to figure out how important you are and if you can help them or not, followed a group conversation about the difficulties around being a woman and raising money. We even talked about how some VCs are wary to invest in female entrepreneurs who might get pregnant because they’d be ‘distracted’ by having a baby. And then some guy sputtered some nonsense about how he’d ‘hire more women, but there just aren’t that many great female candidates’ for the roles he’s hiring for.
He said that to a group specifically brought together to talk about the difficulties of being a female entrepreneur.
I spent a lot of time working at startups. I am familiar with the verbiage around getting funding, the bro culture rampant in the startup world, and how there can be a general lack of woke-ness around things like wellness, consciousness, and basic human decency in Silicon Valley. But I also know that the startup and tech worlds can also be really wonderful to women in ways that institutions like Corporate America are not. In a way, the startup world offers women more freedom.
But this dinner—which was meant to incite a progressive conversation between venture firms and entrepreneurs about how to offer women support as they start and build companies—left me feeling pretty terrible. Because it reminded me of just how far away we are from progress … because people like YOU aren’t in that room yet.
Part of the reason I started oh holisticism was because I worked in tech with quite a few different female founders. I didn’t like them, because they were pretty terrible people. And I didn’t like that they automatically represented me in the workplace just because we shared the same reproductive organs. I wanted to believe that women could be incredible leaders, and lead in a totally unique way—one different than the way men have taught us to run companies.
I wanted to see women forge their own pathways into success, and ignore the ‘rules’ that everyone said went along with owning a company. I wanted to believe that you could be a good, conscious, empathetic, intuitive, feminine person and still be a successful business person. And I found you wonderful people (or you found oh holisticism), who were living exactly those ideals.
I’m not being hyperbolic when I say I believe you are changing the world. We need you and your ideas.
Which is maybe why I was so shook by the conversation that went down at this dinner. It was abundantly clear that this room was missing voices like yours—voices of women who are grounded dreamers, who believe in creating a better world for all of us. Women who want to build things to raise the collective consciousness.
Not just raise their personal bank accounts.
OK, so why aren’t you in the room where it happens, Burr? Well, probably a few reasons:
Lack of access. Meaning, you aren’t in LA or SF, or you don’t know a VC, or you don’t have an ‘in’ in the industry.
Lack of experience. You don’t have experience in the startup world, or in raising money. Or in starting a business.
Lack of knowledge. You think that VC funding (or any funding, really) is for other ideas … not ideas like yours. You don’t think you have a strong enough concept to even have a conversation with someone who might invest. You don’t even know how that would WORK to raise money, or if you even want it.
Lack of delusional thinking. The VC investors kept reiterating that male founders are much more delusionally persistent than female founders. Men were more likely to pitch half-baked, unproven ideas—and to continue to come back to pitch again no matter how many times they were turned down. Women typically had well-organized pitches with copious amounts of proof-of-concept … and if they were turned down would disappear with a polite ‘Thank you for your time.’
Lack of creativity. This one is so me. I’m stubborn. My mantra has always been, I don’t want to do it the same way everyone else is doing it. In my mind, all companies that raise funding look the same—tech-forward, in product development, with a specific growth trajectory. Also, totally soulless. And if I ever started a company, I wouldn't want it to fit that mold. But honestly, that’s just my excuse for not finding a more creative solution. There must be a way to game the system to get what you want without sacrificing your morals and values. We just need to work to find a creative opening.
These problems have relatively simple solutions.
The same VC that put on this dinner has open Office Hours. It’s a time specifically set aside to answer questions for women who are trying to start something—a company, a product, a movement, a revolution. Whatever. Go get feedback on your idea. The best way to get funding in the future is to create a relationship with a VC now, while your idea is still a baby. Then, if you decide it's time to grow, you have a support system that’s already emotionally invested in you. And even if you don’t decide to get funding, it’s important to get different, unbiased perspectives on your ideas.
The best way to get experience? Just start.
See answer #1.
Honestly, just believe in yourself and your idea for like, 5 seconds. If you think it’s dumb, remember that someone made millions off of Fidget Spinners, Segways, and selfie sticks. Choose to believe in the power of blind persistence. Even if we're lacking clarity on what is supposed to happen next, put one foot in front of the other. The path must appear, simply because we are deciding to create it by moving forward.
Let’s get creative together. (CODE: 1000) Also, wouldn’t hurt to invest in some red jasper, citrine, and Tiger’s eye crystals—all of which are supposed to encourage creativity.
I know—this is a pretty practical, non-magical post. We’ll get back to that next week. In the meantime, I want to hear your thoughts. Are you interested in more stuff like this? Do you have questions? Do you hate everything about this? Let me know in the comments below!