Being a startup founder is not what it’s cut out to be in pop culture.
Sure, founding a startup is portrayed as an un-glamorous hustle out of someone’s garage (think Amazon, Google, Apple, etc.), but there is always a tinge of rose around the edges of that picture, if only because we know now that those companies ended up being billion-dollar companies.
The reality of startups is a lot less… whatever that is.
Less glamorous? Check.
Less certain? Yup.
Less white guy from (insert Ivy League school)? We couldn’t be any further from that if we tried.
Throw in the current state of the economy, and well, you start getting the real picture.
The reality of being a diverse founding team
We are a team of three women, collectively running the gamut of backgrounds and life experiences in 21st Century USA. Three things brought us together: our (current and former) connection to the military, friendships (personal & professional), and a vision.
Nowadays, “diversity” and “inclusion” have become buzzwords in the startup and venture capital arenas. Every fund, accelerator, and incubator is saying they’re all in on diversity and inclusion of underrepresented populations in the startup world. They are mentoring these populations more than ever.
Unfortunately, very few put their money where their mentorship is.
Our company graduated a from an accelerator back in May with pretty good buzz and interest from VCs, angel investors, and potential customers. Customers have flocked to us and so have angel investors. But to date, not one investment fund has given even a soft commitment to fund our company. Our credentials and experience get questioned more than those of our male peers (and we’ve checked) – in fact, theirs don’t get questioned at all. We get strung along to the point where we don’t even get a straight no.
Somehow, after knowing we are well mentored and need investment (aka $$$), all they offer is their time and mentorship. Well, guess what? We can’t take time and mentorship to the bank and pay the bills.
Light at the end of the tunnel?
Despite being part of a group that is notoriously over-mentored and underfunded, we are doing as okay as we can be. There are a several potential paths to revenue in front of us, and we are carefully exploring them.
But in the meantime, our runway gets shorter.
Optimistic but not blind,