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5 Things Women Investors Want Women Founders To Know So far this year, women-led startups have witnessed USD 112 million in funding almost in line with USD 123 million raised in the first two months of 2023.

By Minakshi Sangwan

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[L-R] Anisha Singh, Kanika Mayar, Pearl Agarwal, Seema Chaturvedi, and Vani Kola

Over the last three years, VC financing for startups run by women has decreased by 75%. According to a Tracxn report, VC financing for women-led startups peaked in 2021 at USD 6.5 billion, but by 2023, it had dropped to USD 1.1 billion. According to the data, the tech startup ecosystem in India raised USD 8.7 billion in 2023. Of that amount, USD 1.15 billion was raised by companies led by women, accounting for 13% of the total.

So far this year, women-led startups have witnessed USD 112 million in funding almost in line with USD 123 million raised in the first two months of 2023.

To address this imbalance, Entrepreneur India spoke to some women VCs. Here are 5 things that they advised women founders to know.

Prioritise networking and cultivate confidence

Networking plays a crucial role in an entrerpeneur's life. Eximius Capital Ventures' Pearl Agarwal advised women founders to focus on this key aspect. "First, prioritise networking and establish connections outside of strictly professional settings to build credibility. This network can be invaluable in navigating various situations effectively," she said. "Secondly, cultivate confidence and embrace self-promotion. It's essential not to shy away from selling or highlighting your strengths confidently. Confidence is a very powerful asset in your fundraising journey."

Find a long-term investor

Kanika Mayar from Vertex Ventures SEA and India suggested women founders try to find an investor who can be a long-term partner and support the business as the company scales. According to her, this is not easy, as a partnership takes time to build and therefore needs founders to meet a lot of investors before they can get comfortable and find the right one.

"For women, this could be tougher as the founder-investor fit is quite subjective; it depends on how well the two parties relate to the business problem being solved as well as to each other on a more personal level. Therefore, women founders may need to work harder to find an investor who they feel comfortable with, so they need to be more patient and positive through the process," she stated.

Look for mentors

Seema Chaturvedi, founder of Achieving Women Equity (AWE) Funds, sees a significant need for mentors, especially for women founders. "While driven teams have innovative ideas, they can do a lot better with the support of people with the experience of growing and scaling companies. Such mentors have seen the movie before and can guide the young startups sideways to avoidable mistakes while prioritising growth," she added.

Focus on existing or repeat customers.

According to Anisha Singh, founder of SheCapital, existing or repeat customers is very important for a business. "It irks me that companies will spend so much money acquiring customers, but such little thought is given to retention. Your power users, your regular customers that keep coming back matter," she said.

According to her, the market is slightly tighter than it was, but that doesn't mean funding has dried up. Investors just want to see good, scalable businesses, "so please focus on demonstrating that".

Acknowledge shortcomings

As much as one is capable, a founder should acknowledge one's shortcomings and work towards it. According to Kalaari Capital's Vani Kola, for people to become great leaders, they must be open to acknowledging their shortcomings. "Leaders don't have all the answers. True leadership starts when we acknowledge our gaps," she wrote in her LinkedIn post. She also urged founders to engage with knowledgeable people, shed their fears and insecurities, and empower them.

Minakshi Sangwan

Junior Writer

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