Last year, the largest VC deal for a female team was $165 million -- a stark contrast to that for males, which was $3 billion. 98 Percent of VC Funding Goes to Men. Can Women Entrepreneurs Change a Sexist System?
Last year, the largest VC deal for a female team was $165 million -- a stark contrast to that for males, which was $3 billion.
It was January 2017. A 26-year-old Nadia Genevieve Masri made her way up to the second floor office of a venture capital fund in San Francisco. She was there to ask for $500,000.
Masri already had four startups under her belt, and she was raising her first round of VC funding for Perksy, a market research company targeting millennial and Gen-Z audiences. She knew market research was a $45 billion industry and that there was no leading mobile solution -- meaning companies like Pepsi were spending well over $50 million per year without certainty of directly reaching younger generations. Masri’s idea: an app where, in exchange for rewards at companies like Nordstrom, Sephora, Delta and Netflix, users would answer stacks of focused questions from brands on their likes, dislikes and views on current events.
Masri had done the research: She knew her service was unique, that companies would pay for it and that, with the right capital, she could deliver promising results. But the men sitting across the table weren’t sold, telling Masri she was too early -- that they wanted to “see how this goes.”
Self-doubt lingered in the back of Masri’s mind: It’s probably just me. It’s probably just the way I’m communicating this. Nevertheless, she kept plugging away, raising $250,000 in a friends and family funding round, then pitching her idea to Marcy Simon, an angel investor in New York. Simon was the first angel to cut Masri a check, and she helped rally other investors behind the idea -- leading to another $250,000 in funding and Perksy’s January 2018 launch. Within six months, that initial $500,000 in funding brought in $3 million in the pipeline.
Masri still thinks back to those VC rejections and the insecurity that accompanied them, but she has a new outlook now. She says if you’re second-guessing your company, remember the rejection may have nothing to do with your idea itself. Throughout the fundraising process, Masri doesn’t remember meeting with a single female venture capitalist. And even after her company’s seminal success, she still gets eyebrow raises from male investors when she talks about next steps.
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