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As we are on the cusp of shooting Shark Tank Series 3, I thought it was time to reflect on an important topic: ‘sometimes an investment deal, in reality, is not the best thing for a business’.

It has been reported that there is marked gender differences in the ability to raise funds; here are some interesting statistics: “Women start companies at twice the rate of men. Female-founded companies get only 13  percent of the total angel financing available. According to a study by First Round Capital companies with a woman on the founding team outperform their all male peers by 63 percent. But when it comes to venture capital often the speediest route to building a fast growth company – women are not getting funded. Female CEOs get only 2.7 percent of all venture funding…” according to Inc Magazine.

Mashable had an article appear earlier in the year which claimed that Shark Tank USA funds fewer women, and for lesser amounts. I question what sits behind this; ‘is this an unconscious bias or are there other contributing factors?’  Is it the case that the women ask for less? Is it that there are fewer women pitching? I will have a keen eye this season and will be doing the numbers. One thing I have often noted is a woman may well pitch her business by telling you all the things she is yet to do… whilst a man will tell you all the things he has already done.

We do not know how many women did/did not ask for funding to those VCs. A VC friend of mine laments that she never sees women come to pitch. Perhaps it is the fact that they are boot strapping that is making them more successful. Do they have more of an incentive to make their business scale? Maybe this is why women founders are 63% more successful.

What I do know is that getting an investor on board is not necessarily the ‘right’ thing for every business… and that is not biased to either gender.

It has been confirmed by research that flexibility and control are considered the real benefits of being your own boss. Founders are not unaware of the risks, that 60% of business start-ups fail, but, on balance, founders prefer the life of entrepreneurship.

The moment a self-employed individual takes investment, they are by definition no longer ‘self-employed’. They now have responsibilities not just to their customers, but to their investors as well. There is also significant compliance, governance and fiscal responsibilities that come with the investment, not to mention the budgets, performance indicators, and regular reporting.

I’m glad for Scale Investors and Golden Seeds – because they understand that there may be subtle differences in how female founders work.

I know I started RedBalloon because I wanted to be in charge of my own destiny… the business model allowed us to bootstrap the business, and be accountable only to the customer. But is that a gender thing… I don’t know. Thoughts?

Reader Interactions


  1. What irked me about your post is that as a female it has hardly entered my head to get an investor.

    The honest answer is where on earth do I start? I am not afraid to pitch. I believe in myself and my product but who would want to invest in me? I mean literally who? Not because I don’t think that my course and book aren’t worth investing in, but because I really don’t know where I would start to look. When I run my courses I am engaged, on fire, excited and passionate, selling my story and connecting, but this is a far cry from knowing who I would take it to.

    I have to admit Naomi that today is the first time that I have heard of you and yet you are a 1.5 million person influencer. I either have to get out more or you investors need to! Perhaps as a woman I am just not moving in investor circles.

    Your post has got me started; Shark Tank is an option and now you have prompted me I am sure that I can Google for investment opportunities; but now I start to think about my business as investment potential, I get distracted by thoughts of being eaten alive and scared into thinking that I am naive in business and would end up getting ripped off. That is why I as a woman am not coming forwards. There’s honesty for you!

  2. Hi Gemma – if you are really looking for next steps – do take a moment to track down the book Ready to Soar… it might give you the heads up on where to next.


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