In the 8th episode of FP Guru Series, we chatted with Rixt Herklots, the Operational Director of The Next Women.
This podcast episode is very relevant for Fashion Potluck right now. Currently, we are crowdfunding on Seedrs.com. Each woman has an opportunity to invest. We invited Rixt and asked her to share investment opportunities for women to a) get investment and b) to invest.
What this podcast is about:
○ If a woman wants to start a company, how would they go about looking for investment?
○ Are there a lot of bias towards the women-founded companies in terms of investments? Is it harder for women to get funding?
○ Can you tell us a bit more about The Next Women fund?
○ Where can you find investment opportunities? How to decide what to invest in?
○ To what degree can an investor participate in a company’s growth? Can he/she participate in the day-to-day?
○ How does post-investment look like? What are the exit options?
Listen to the podcast here:
Julia: Hello everyone and welcome to the Fashion Potluck Podcast Session. My name is Julia, I’m the Chief Marketing Officer of Fashion Potluck.com, which is a women driven social media platform. I'm here with Luis Galdamez Echeverria, who is the CEO of Fashion Potluck, and our guest for today, Rixt Herklots, the Operational Direction of The Next Women. Hello Rixt!
Rixt: Hi. Thanks for having me.
Julia: How are you today?
Rixt: I'm good.
Julia: Good. Awesome. Today we're going to be talking about women investing and the investment opportunities for women. So to start with the first question, Rixt, can you share some investment possibilities in general?
Rixt: Investment possibilities, you mean for female founders, or for women to invest?
Julia: Female Founders.
Rixt: Yes of course. We have the Next Women, which is the organization I work for - we're a network of female entrepreneurs and investors. And what we do, is we work with our own angel fund, which has 80 female investors investing in companies with at least one female founder, and we have member programs in which we help female founders connect with investors, get pitched, training, create their investor deck - so be completely prepared to go for funding. Next, to that, there is of course Crowdfunding, which is a very popular form of investment amongst female founders. You have angels in a broader range. Not only the ones that we have, and the banks, the traditional VCs, there’s a whole world of money out there.
Julia: What would you recommend? What's your favorite way?
Rixt: Well I think it really depends on the type of company you have. Because if you are really a health company that has a very long runway and needs to be in business for 10 to 15 years, getting for all kinds of rules and regulations before actually making a profit, that demands a different kind of investment than if you're an e-commerce platform. And so, that's really the first question you need to ask yourself: ‘What's my business, and what's my runway, what's my financial strategy?’ I love angel investments just because it's not only money, that you're getting. So, you're also getting, if you're lucky, some experience, some expertise, knowledge, and network of the investor. And I think crowdfunding is a great way to start getting your first money and having your friends, family, and fans united.
Luis: Actually, one of the questions that come to mind, we discussed this before, but could you tell us a bit about the reason why the Next Women exists?
Rixt: Yes. So, we were founded around 10 years ago by Simone Brummelhuis, who is also one of the co-founders of the Dutch restaurant website Iens.nl. And what she saw was that there is a need for entrepreneurs to get access to knowledge, capital, and connections and that women tend to have a little bit of a harder time getting access to that, due to all kinds of structures, rules, and regulations. And that's why she started the Next Women, and what our mission is now is to create an inclusive business ecosystem for everyone and be able to thrive in that.
Julia: Okay. And you started 10 years ago, but do you still think that it's harder for women to get funding? Did it change in the past ten years?
Rixt: Well I think what has changed is the awareness. I don't have the exact numbers, but what I do see is that there's an increase in the numbers of female entrepreneurs. So, it's become more and more of a career option for women, to start their own company as well, which also then brings up the challenges of getting funded. We had a research coming out last October that stated that only 1.6% of venture capital money in the Netherlands is going towards companies that completely women-led, seven point something to diversity companies, and then ninety-one point something, something, to completely male founded teams.
Luis: To the bro club!
Rixt: Yes haha, to the bro club! So, I think that's really the number that's been going around for the last couple of months that shows that there is still really a challenge for women. There's a lot of debate about that of course, the need for more data.
The first question that you always get is, or the first statement is, that there are less female founders than there are male founders, which is true, but it's here, in the Netherlands 65 percent to 35 percent, and so not 98 to 1, 1.6. So there's really steps still that need to be made there.
Luis: I remember, when we met for the first time, you mentioned an experience which you had at a mixed conference, and one of the male attendees asked about, no he actually made a statement, saying that he just did not get a woman to pitch to his firm. I'm wondering if you can share that with us because I thought it was quite interesting, in the sense of the misconceptions, and a lot of like missed points of views that exist now through terms of women entrepreneurs, and investment possibilities as well?
Rixt: Yeah of course. I think it's well, the easiest answer is to say, that there's not enough potential out there. I think that's one that we quickly go to, stating that if we're not investing in female founders then, that would mean that there are no female founders. Because if they were out there, they would come, they would rise above and find their way to the money, totally surpassing that the structures that we have created are created to help men thrive.
So the example that you're talking about, we had this pitch competition, on the same day that we had this research coming out, stating the 1.6, and it was our grand final, we had pitchers from all over Europe, all female founders gathered, our network was invited as well. So it was a room with one hundred and fifty women: investors, entrepreneurs, and so on, and we had a panel and we had this male VC saying: ‘well the reason I'm not investing in women because there is not enough potential’. Being completely blind to the room that he had in front of him.
And I think that's really showing, same with a roundtable we had, where this one man said: ‘Well I've seen hundreds of propositions passed my desk last year. None of them had a female founder, there are no female founders out there’, to which I replied ‘Well I've seen two hundred and fifty, three hundred propositions passed my desk last year and all of them had a female founder. ’So, it's really about how you position yourself in the market and if you're approachable. I mean I have to be honest as well, it's not that I see a lot of male founders. That's also one of our flaws, that we need to be aware of, going forward that we're not trying to change the system and doing it in the same manner, but being open to all parties. But it is the most easy way to not worry about an issue, by not acknowledging the fact that, your own bubble is quite small...
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