Women entrepreneurs claim just a fraction of the nation's available capital. The solution, it turns out, is a multifaceted approach.
After founding and growing three music-related businesses-all while raising eight children--Karmel Larson was well aware of the need for new childcare solutions. And when she finally came up with an app-based solution she calls "caresharing," she knew this one was not going to be anything like her past business ventures.
"A scalable tech company is very different than a piano store," Ms. Larson says. "The scale is not even in the same universe."
Ms. Larson, like so many tech entrepreneurs before her, needed venture capital. But because she is female, her odds of success were slim. Women-founded companies claimed just over two percent of the nation's available capital in 2017. And Utah, according to local entrepreneurs and investors, can be an especially tough state for women seeking funding.
But Ms. Larson wasn't aware of the statistics when she started her quest to fund her startup, called Momni, 18 months ago. Had she known, she says, she may not have pursued--and ultimately locked in--a seven-figure funding deal.
"When I started, I wasn't aware, and I think that's a benefit that I had," Ms. Larson says. "I've never felt any sort of female discrimination in my life, and so when I started working on a tech company, I was not informed of the nature of the invested world. As I started getting into it, I started learning that the odds were stacked against me. But by the time I started learning, I got so far into it, it just didn't matter."
Ms. Larson, alongside others familiar with the venture capital scene, believes attitudes--locally and on a national level--have begun to change. Today is the day for women to claim the funding their ideas merit, they say, because doing so will lay the groundwork for generations of entrepreneurs and investors to come. And women, local investors say, may come up with groundbreaking products and companies that no man would have dreamed up.
"I know the odds are stacked against women statistically," Ms. Larson says, "but that should never stop any pioneer from trudging ahead."
THE TRIALS OF FUNDRAISING--AS A WOMAN
For all the glamor associated with it, raising capital doesn't always get rave reviews from the women who have been there--even those who have procured funding.
"Fundraising is a terrible process," says Sunny Washington, cofounder and CEO at Beyond Learning. "It's not...