Episode 50: Starting a business

October 20, 2014

“Stepping outside of your comfort zone is really, really hard…I did not want to raise venture capital at all. But I did want to have a big successful business. And I got to the place where I realized I’m going to have to go pitch all those guys in suits.” - Julia Pimsleur

"One of these days Mark Zuckerberg is going to hit me, but I believe that if I grew up in a household where I was told to do what I was good at and go after my talents, I would have created Facebook or something even better than that.” - Denise Barreto

24 minutes.

Female entrepreneurship is rising fast. In the US, a third of businesses are now owned by women. But look a bit deeper and you find nearly all these businesses are 'solopreneurships' - they don't have any employees and they don't bring in much money. This is sometimes by design, but not always: many women are unprepared for the inequities that still exist in entrepreneurship. Julia Pimsleur

In this show we meet two ambitious entrepreneurs who want to grow their companies: Julia Pimsleur and Denise Barreto. They have advice about how to survive in the male-dominated world of fundraising, why hiring other people is a must even when you can barely afford it, and how passion for your work isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Denise Barreto

Further reading:

Julia Pimsleur is CEO of Little Pim. She has also founded Double Digit Academy, which holds regular training sessions for women who want to raise money for their companies.


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Episode 17: Female in Silicon Valley

April 29, 2013

"In this one particular conversation I had with an angel investor...he responded, ‘Well, I don’t want to say the wrong thing and call you a meek Asian woman, but I wonder how you will lead a group of about 100 people?’" - Elizabeth Yin, co-founder, LaunchBit

Raising money for a startup is a tough proposition for any entrepreneur. Elizabeth Yin (left) and her co-founder set out more than a year ago to raise a first round of funding for their company, LaunchBit. Along the way, they became more conscious of their gender than they'd ever been before. 18 minutes. 

In part two of the show, we meet Janne Sigurdsson (above), an Icelandic director at Alcoa, the mining company, who talks about how much work her employer has done to make the firm more appealing to women. Smelters aren't known for their allure, but Alcoa upped its female workforce by more than three percent during the recession.

And we meet a couple of executives from Coca-Cola, who explain what the beverage behemoth is doing to make life better for women inside and outside the company.

Show notes: Elizabeth Yin wrote this piece for Women 2.0 about her funding experiences, which prompted me to interview her for the show. This piece from The Verge is also very revealing about just how hard it can be for women business owners to get male investors to take their ideas seriously. 

You can read more about Catalyst's honoring of Alcoa here and Coca-Cola here. Oxfam's Behind the Brands report came out in February.

Sponsorship notices: Do take advantage of Audible's and Squarespace's offers! You can get a free audio book and a 30-day Audible trial by going to Audiblepodcast.com/broad. As I said in the show, Bossypants really is great. For the Squarespace offer go to to Squarespace.com/broad and use the code 'broad4' if you decide to sign up - it'll get you a 10% discount. I built this site using Squarespace 5 - but they're now on 6, which looks even better.

Episode 12: Women of Kenya

February 3, 2013

Africa is becoming a continent of entrepreneurs, and a lot of them are women. Most of these run 'micro businesses' selling fruits, vegetables or consumer goods at roadside stalls, but when I was in Kenya last month I spoke to two energetic entrepreneurs operating in the formal economy. These are the types of business owners the World Bank says Kenya needs more of if the country is to reach 'middle income' status by 2020.

Tune in to hear event manager Lydia Kaindi (above), who has firm opinions on what's going wrong with Kenyan men while its women soar, and film producer Mercy Murugi, who works with young people in Kenya's, and probably Africa's, largest slum. 12 minutes.

Anyone who wants to know more about Kibera should read this wonderful piece on a day in the life of this sprawling Nairobi neighborhood.

Episode 5: female entrepreneurship

July 6, 2012

I got so many good interviews for this show that I decided to break it into two parts rather than cram everything into a 20 minute podcast. Being a journalist and British, I walk around with a double level of cynicism. So when recently I started reading a bunch of posts, articles and tweets all raving about female entrepreneurship ('you go girl' was the general flavor), I got suspicious. I wanted to get behind the hype and find out what's really going on in the world of women entrepreneurs. In part two (a little further down) I'll have an interview with Amanda Pouchout, co-founder of The Levo League, a startup devoted to ambitious 20-something women. Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg is one of their funders. 

July 11, 2012

Here's part two, or episode six, featuring The Levo League. Who knew job postings were (unintentionally) woman-unfriendly? Tune in to find out more.

For data on entrepreneurship, you might want to visit these sites. The Kauffman Foundation is the largest foundation in the world dedicated to entrepreneursip and has just published a new book, A Rising Tide, about financing strategies for women-owned firms (much more interesting than it sounds). Check out this short 'sketchbook' video featuring one of the authors, Alicia Robb - it's fun and packed with good information. Womenable is a good source too. For the last two years they, along with American Express Open, have brought out a report on the state of female entrepreneurship in the US. Womenable also looks at female entrepreneurship around the world and its effects on economies. Astia helps women grow their firms and hone their leadership skills. It declares on its homepage that it doesn't intend to exist in ten years - it wants and expects its job to be done by then. (Down, inner cynic, down!)

The data on women's entrepreneurship offen differes sligthly depending on who's parsing it and which aspects they're looking at. But at the end of the day, despite all the current enthusiasm and excitement around women going out on their own, the fact remains that women's firms grow very slowly, it's harder for women to raise money, and only 17 percent of participants in Startup Weekend are female. We still have a lot of work to do. The better armed we are with information, the more we can achieve. For more on this and links to other participants in this show, visit The Broad Experience blog.