On Raising Money for Girls Raising – 7×7 Mentoring Salon

Social Media Week

Today I’m sharing the last in a series of posts based on a 7×7 Mentoring Salon I did for SMW. It’s where seven up-and-coming entrepreneurs pose a question to seven experienced leaders.

This post focuses on the question posed by Vanessa Dawson. Vanessa is the founder and CEO Girls Raising, an organization dedicated to helping female founders start, build, fund & grow their business. [i highly recommend her events…both entertaining and enterprising!- CV]

Vanessa’s goal is to build a community that provides capital to the underserved market of female entrepreneurs. Currently she does that through highly curated pitch events with funded founders, top females VCs and investors and up and coming entrepreneurs. The next step is to build an online platform that fosters innovation and skill exchange.

“I want women to be inspired by what our community is doing and see entrepreneurship is an option for them. I want to give them exposure, help them build confidence; give them the networks and sponsorship.” – Vanessa Dawson

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 7.49.23 AMVanessa’s questionWhat steps can I take to strengthen and create a financially sound model for this community? What barriers should I expect? What would be a good route to raise investment?

My community is quality over quantity. It‘s for female entrepreneurs who have some traction. They have launched, have a product and are approaching high growth. But most funding focuses ventures with a lot of users. How can I package my brand and my community to show off the value of quality engagement over the large numbers that everyone else is drawing out?

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 7.49.13 AMIf your clients or customers are entrepreneurs, you have a fundamental business model problem. They have no money. Maybe they can pay you in equity so you can have a long run capital possibility, but their ability to pay you cash is pretty minimal. An analogy in the early stage phase would be angel groups where individuals come in together to support or to invest in individual entrepreneurs. Angel groups don’t have a business model. They can’t raise enough money from member fees, so typically, some of the lead members end up subsidizing the whole thing.

So I think you need to think through whether it’s about the mission, in which case, maybe a full profit model doesn’t make sense and getting sponsorship or support through contributions (might be a better way to go.

If you want it to be a full profit model, you can look at other examples out there. Look at other business models out there. For example, Women 2.0 is focusing on being a full profit media company. They’ve got content. They are doing things that support women entrepreneurs but the way it works is as a media company. They do high profile massive conferences, which generate lots of sponsorship. It achieves the mission by being a media company which has a revenue model attached to it. — Adam Quinton: Founder/CEO Lucas Point Ventures, Investor/Advisor/Board Member

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 7.49.13 AMIt almost sounds like accelerator territory, but you can’t call it that. So I echo what Adam said about the sponsorship model. If you try to raise venture capital or angel money, they will look at your business as a limited partnership in an accelerator. Then the scrutiny on the metrics is beyond anything!! I think a non-profit setup is better because you can pay yourself still. —  Justin StanwixDirector, Friends of eBay

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 7.49.13 AMI would look at the minimum viable product. Figure out what is the one thing that you must do. The one thing that if you don’t do, that you don’t put out in the world, you will die an unhappy woman. Figure out what that first small thing is and how to test that and see if you can get traction around that. Right now, I’m getting the sense that you may be trying to be too many things to too many people. So pick one thing, start doing it, get some traction and then build on that because everything that you want to do is worthy. You’ve just got to figure out which one it is that you want to do and that you are uniquely qualified to do. Pick that one thing. — Whitney JohnsonManaging Director and Founder of Springboard Ventures, co-founder of the list Forty Women OVER 40 to Watch, author of Dare, Dream, Do:  Remarkable Things Happen When You Dare to Dream

More 7×7 Wisdom from SMW14

How To Overcome Gender Bias in Pitching 

What Leadership Qualities Should I Develop in my 20s – Part 1 

What Leadership Qualities Should I Develop in My 20s – Part 2

Promoting Yourself or Your Company Without Being Pushy 

How To Grow A New Business – Pitch or Partner? 

When Is It Time to Switch Jobs?  

How to Build a Personal Brand and Business 




on Twitter

on Facebook

on Google+