Last night, I was thrilled to host a media dinner of half a dozen awesome journalists and the CEOs of some of the most exciting female-founded companies out there: Cleo, Milk Stork, The Riveter, and Carrot Fertility.
Not only do the five of us (counting Chairman Mom) have in common that we’ve all beaten the odds in raising millions of dollars from top VCs—a combined $45 million to be exact, when the average woman lucky enough to raise venture capital raises on average $800k—but we have a vital mission and a savvy playbook in common as well.
We are all selling our products and services into large companies with astounding—surprising, even to us—success. These products all make life easier for women and working families. These products not only pick up where, say, an OBGYN leaves off in the case of Cleo or where HR can’t venture in the case of Chairman Mom. Each in its own way battles to solve the niggling things that force women out of the workforce and deprive them of economic self-sufficiency. In some ways we should thank the U.S. government’s notorious hostile relationship towards working moms: If this government did what most nations do when it comes to leave, decent healthcare, or subsidized child care, this category we’ve all created might not be so large and so lucrative. (We won’t actually thank the U.S. government for this. It’s awful.)
We are all five seeing companies step up and make 2019 the year of actually putting money behind making women’s lives better at work.
But there’s also a compelling business story here: We have each realized that the way to fight bias in venture capital is to build a real, sustainable and scalable business as early as you can. Nothing cuts through bias like amazing traction.