Features / Entrepreneurs

Examining the gender entrepreneurship gap

By ellie pipe, Monday Feb 25, 2019

From being asked to make tea at a pitching event, to upscaling, collaboration and loneliness at the top, female founders shared their stories at Engine Shed.

The Women Rising roundtable discussion saw entrepreneurs from across Bristol gather to trade advice and tackle key questions around sharing the burden of leadership, how to pitch and how to keep a team going when crisis hits.

One of four such events across the country, points raised at the Engine Shed will form the basis of a report into the barriers faced by female entrepreneurs, which will be published later this year by the Female Founders Forum – a joint project between The Entrepreneurs Network and Barclays.

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Lucy Cohen speaks about sharing leadership

“I do my best work when I collaborate with other people. When you are a startup, you are not accountable and that can be quite lonely,” said Lucy Cohen, co-founder of all-female accountancy firm Mazuma.

Many in the room admitted part of the impetus to start their own business stemmed from a desire to ‘do things differently’, others faced discrimination after returning to work after maternity leave.

Jess Saumarez, managing director of LUX Rewards, said that – as a 23-year-old co-founder – she often found herself pitching to rooms full of men. She was once even mistaken for a waitress and asked to make the tea at a pitching event, but says she has grown in confidence over the last year alone.

It was also highlighted that being a female entrepreneur is a potentially powerful position to be in in terms of attracting investment, as investors increasingly seek to diversify.

Ellie Webb talks about her first pitch and the importance of mentors

Speaking about securing early investment and the importance of mentors, Ellie Webb, founder of non-alcoholic spirit brand Caleno, said: “Someone pointing you in the right direction can help massively. I started with a set of ideas and grew that into a proper business proposition.

“When you get into business, it’s very difficult to move forward without investment really because entry costs and barriers to business are so high.”

Thanh Quan-Nicholls, co-founder of Desklodge and Women’s Tech Hub, added that it’s helpful to seek advice from a lot of people, because each will tell you about only their own experiences.

On dealing with crisis, and knowing when to change the direction of your business, she added: “Sometimes there is a gap in the market, but there is not always a market in the gap.”

Combined with the three other roundtables taking place across the country, views from Monday’s event will feed into a report that will help inspire and inform other entrepreneurs to greatness.

The roundtable discussion will feed into a report into the barriers faced by female entrepreneurs

Main photo: L-R Giselle Goodwin, Thanh Quan-Nicholls, Annabel Denham

Read more: Festival of Female Entrepreneurs returns to Bristol

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