Last year, TechCrunch released a study that contained a startling statistic. Only 17 percent of venture-backed startups had a female founder. Not only that, but the number had been completely flat for the last five year.
It was a fact that hit Kathleen Griffith, the founder and CEO of Grayce & Co, a 3-year-old brand and marketing strategy firm geared to women, every which way wrong.
The stark numbers drove home what Griffith already knew all too well. That while female founders are often generous with their support of other women trying to get their ideas off the ground into the marketplace can be an incredibly lonely road.
“These stories and struggles are very common. It's important to realize you're not alone.” Griffith tells Entrepreneur. “Otherwise you kind of feel like you're on an island and that can be really paralyzing.”Related: Athlete and Businesswoman Venus Williams Shares Her Secrets to Building Brands and Staying Focused
It is sharing these stories with woman that can actually make you more effective at running your business,” says Jennifer Kem, an entrepreneur and strategic brand advisor.
“There are more groups, events and online opportunities where women can share their stories - which in turn creates tighter, more supportive circles for their businesses to leverage and thrive,” says Kem. “These storytelling groups allow women entrepreneurs to grow their platforms exponentially.”
The Female Founders Fund, Pipeline Angels, Digital Undivided, The Pink Ceiling and BBG Ventures are several examples of organizations dedicated to helping women founders scale their businesses and make an impact in a startup world that is often not built to help them succeed.Related: Don't Apologize for Your Success -- No One Else Does
Amid this growing ecosystem, Griffith believes there needs to be more. What could she do to make female founders, both aspiring and established, feel like they had a community of peers that they could rely on? This was the impetus behind her new program, Build Like a Woman, a platform to help female entrepreneurs succeed.
To do this, Griffith and her team are at work developing a suite of easily accessible and affordable digital tools to help women entrepreneurs tackle all the challenges that are inherent to launching a business -- everything from market sizing, brand positioning, profit and loss statements, pitch decks and business plans. The first series, a business and marketing course called the Builders Program, is already live.
“We want to create the ultimate business and brand building program for female entrepreneurs looking to unlock growth,” said Griffith of the platform’s goals. “We want them to be large and profitable and successful as possible.”
With that preparation in hand, Griffith also wants to build a digital and in-real-life community, complete with a Facebook group, monthly calls and live conferences to bring Build Like a Woman together. Big-name female entrepreneurs will be lending their voices, including Jessica Alba from The Honest Company, Amy Emmerich from Refinery29 and Brit Morin from Brit & Co.
Kem says that Griffith’s approach fits into a broader movement of female entrepreneurs finding new ways to tackle the issues they face every day.Related: How a Near-Death Experience Inspired This Entrepreneur to Change Her Career and Plug Into Her Purpose
“There’s never been a better time in the history of women in business and entrepreneurship to step into leadership; using their voices to speak truth, using their skills to grow the economy and using their work to create bigger impact,” Kem says. “Social media and technology can make moving these messages faster than ever before.”
Ultimately, Griffith wants the emphasize skills that female founders bring to the table and help them understand the challenges they are facing. But she also wants to help them be less afraid.
“[We want to] really talk to female founders who have transformed their breakdowns into breakthroughs for their companies, and what that took. The unpolished, unvarnished side of things,” says Griffith. “What does it take to really embrace your fear and take greater risks?”