She Started It – a film about entrepreneurs that happen to be women
Is a film that highlights resilience, perseverance and grit of five entrepreneurs. Their companies, approaches and backgrounds are different, but they share one thing in common, they are young women pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams in a male world. As the viewer watches each story unfold, they get a rare glimpse into the female perspective.
Watching a feature length film where are all the main entrepreneurs are women, is in itself, revolutionary.
Thuy (28), an entrepreneur from Vietnam is shown pitching her startup GreenGar at a 500 startups event in Silicon Valley. Her business idea seems exactly matched to what investors would want – a technology based whiteboard app that allows for online and remote collaboration and already have millions of downloads
But Thuy fails to get funded… even after refining her pitch and pitching a second time
Thuy’s response? If Plan A, Plan B and Plan C don’t work, there is still 23 other letters in the alphabet!! Thuy will not stop until she succeeds….
Eventually, Thuy must shut Greengar down and return to Vietnam. Several months later, she starts another app based company Tappy in Vietnam that gets funded and is acquired by Weeby.co in Silicon Valley.
In Stacey’s case, she already has had phenomenal success on her first business, Mysharedcloud.com which she started together with her brother Scott while being a high school senior. Mysocialcloud is a web application that allows users to store their website login information in an online cloud. Mysocialcloud was acquired by www.Reputation.com in 2013.
The film chronicles Stacey’s new startup www.admoar.com and the conflicts she experiences as her parents pressure her to finish college first. In one poignant scene, Stacey’s mother emphasizes the importance for Stacey to finish college and also to produce some grandkids… but none of this pressure is applied to Stacey’s 2 year older brother Scott, who during the entire exchange, sits quietly nearby…
The film was screened by World Bank’s multi-donor program InfoDev as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week. In a panel discussion following the film, Sheena (25) founder of Sheena Allen apps, a successful female entrepreneur from Mississippi also featured in the film answered questions.
Sheena was asked if a woman entrepreneur should be herself or ‘take on the entrepreneurial uniform’ when pitching to investors, Sheena responded, that women need to do both.
Women should be themselves but must also not fall into the feminine stereotype of coming across as ‘nice & needy’ since investors want to see confidence.
Sheena explained that women often portray themselves as ‘needing money’ for their businesses which conveys ‘weakness’ rather than ‘strength’. In contrast, men entrepreneurs tend to convey confidence in pitching giving more of the impression that ‘I don’t need your money and it would be your loss not to invest in me’
Another issue discussed during the panel by both Thuy and Sheena was the fact that VCs tend to look for patterns of success before making an investment and women are at the disadvantage since they don’t fit the stereotypical success pattern of a young man in a hoodie.
An obvious improvement would be to increase diversity amongst Venture Capitalists by hiring more women and minorities in traditional VC firms. Already there is an increase of women’s participation as VCs in micro VC firms focused on seed and early stage investments. But less so for large VC firms focused on later stage investments.
Researchers could also help increase the likelihood for women entrepreneurs to get funded by male VCs through research that identifies success patterns for women entrepreneurs based on rigorous analysis of existing funded company metrics.
To host a film screening or view a calendar of screening locations, see: http://www.shestarteditfilm.com/