Venture funding isn’t the only way to measure gender balance in tech business, but it sure serves as one indicator in a sector that has traditionally been male dominated — in 2011, roughly a quarter of STEM jobs were held by women.
“I’m sick of being the token female entrepreneur for Philly startup events,” said Antoinette Marie Johnson, the cofounder and CEO of At Media, a Center City-based marketing firm that organized an event on the topic of female investment.
The national numbers validate her gripe with the local scene. Women-founded companies represent just 13 percent of all U.S. venture deals inked in the first half of 2013, according to recent data from venture capital research firm PitchBook.
But Johnson wants to do her part in shrinking that gender gap. She’s leading up a local event series called Found & Fund: Female Founders Talk Funding. It’s part of an ever growing network of women in tech events in Philadelphia and nationally.
“It’s not that accomplished female entrepreneurs aren’t out there,” Johnson said. “It’s that they don’t have a platform to support them to speak out and share. We’re hoping to help rectify that and inspire some women to start some great companies along the way.”
The speaker series kicked off May 1 with a roundtable discussion featuring top female executives based in the Philadelphia area. It included:
- Holly Flanagan of Gabriel Investment, a local venture capital firmed that seeded local companies founded by females, including Amanda Steinberg’s DailyWorth.com.
- Tracey Welson-Rossman of Chariot Solutions, an enterprise and mobile development consulting firm based in suburban Philadelphia.
- Deborah Jackson of Plum Alley, a crowdfunding site for women
The panel covered everything from “How to organize a pitch deck” to “How do you know when it’s the right time get funding?” It touched on funding best practices and tips for getting in front of venture capitalists.
“Go where the VC’s are,” said Welson-Rossman. “Get to them through their network. And know what the investors already fund.”
The event drew attention for its pull of different faces — not just gender balance.
Jackson, who lives in New York City, said “The diversity of this crowd is not lost on me. And to be sitting up here with all women on this panel about funding. Philly must be doing something right in the startup community.”