Fifteen female founders joined BGF’s Cate Poulson, Laura Cockburn and Daina Spedding last week for an in-depth investment workshop. Hosted in BGF’s London office, the discussion ranged from accessing funding to the importance of establishing culture early on in your business journey.
“The time is now for female founders” said Joanne Smith, CEO of BGF-backed RecordSure, who shared her experiences of unconscious bias as a female CEO, and the importance of creating nurturing environments for businesswomen to access the resources necessary to scale up.
“Too often when meeting investors, women are asked preventative rather than promotional questions,” she explained. “For example, instead of being asked ‘how do you plan on breaking into this new market?’, the focus is on ‘how will you manage your downside risk?’”
Daina Spedding, an investor in BGF’s London team, spoke of the need to ‘think like an investor’ and outlined key areas for entrepreneurs to consider when starting to fundraise, including filling in gaps in management team’s skillset, and understanding the differences in deal structure according to the type of investment targeted.
Recruiting, retaining, and developing talent continued to be a key theme throughout the event, with many attendees sharing some of the challenges faced when trying to bring the right skills into their business when scaling up.
Cate Poulson, Head of BGF’s Talent Network – the UK’s largest independent network of non-executives and chairs, spoke about hiring the right team, getting the most from your board, and the importance of establishing a clear culture within your business from the outset.
“When you’re a start-up, the culture in a business is owned by the founder. As you scale-up, the culture needs to be codified so it can continue as leadership roles change,” she said. “It’s never too early to start setting out your vision for what you want the culture to be like in your business.”
The event was attended by female entrepreneurs from a wide range of sectors and stages, from life sciences to wellness brands and regulatory technology. All were united in the importance of networking hubs and skills-sharing for women seeking to scale their businesses and succeed in securing investment, after a recent report by the British Business Bank found that for every £1 of venture capital investment in the UK, less than a penny goes to all-female founder teams and mixed gender teams only receive 10p.
Laura Cockburn, who leads BGF’s origination team in London and the South East and co-hosted the event, said:
“We wanted to host an event that had real, practical value for the women attending. It was fantastic to see a room full of businesswomen sharing their experiences and common challenges in a mutually supportive environment. We’ve had some excellent feedback and look forward to rolling out similar events regionally.”
Stephen Welton, CEO of BGF, said:
“BGF is committed to supporting female-led businesses. Being a successful entrepreneur depends on many things – vision, tenacity, a sense of purpose – but gender shouldn’t be one of them. We must all work hard as an industry to challenge our internal biases and ensure more women-led businesses get the funding they need to succeed. Diversity of ideas is essential for a thriving economy – and it’s vital that this diversity is reflected in the teams behind the pitches if we want to unlock the best of UK entrepreneurial talent. Spreading this message is a vital precursor to creating more successful female led business and with that the role models for others to follow. BGF wants to do all it can to be both a thought leader as well as capital provider to help address this challenge, and in doing so unlock an enormous opportunity for female founders and the broader UK economy”