09/22/2014 10:45 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Women Entrepreneurs: Are We Whining Too Much?


In my recent article, Women ARE Raising Venture Capital, I said, there is no bias among Silicon Valley VCs against women.

I got an earful on that one.

What? There are hardly any female VCs. So few female CEOs. So few blah blah blah.

Right. Yes. I know. But it is what it is. How is whining going to help us change any of those factors?

I countered with:

The technology workforce of the world is predominantly male. Technology entrepreneurs are predominantly male. The entrepreneurs who apply for VC funding are predominantly male. The stats are not evidence of prejudice against women, it is a retrospective on the fact that not enough women play the technology entrepreneurship game to begin with. That's where most of the venture capital gets invested.

How do you expect people to win if they don't play?

Also, there is a vast number of small businesses that are run by women that are not venture fundable. These include small retail stores, e-commerce shops, and a variety of services businesses - there are 500,000 marketing agencies, many run by women. None of these warrant venture capital financing, and it is hardly demonstrative of prejudice. It is the nature of the businesses themselves.

This drew out two more issues: One, the lack of girls going into STEM.

Two, venture capital vs. bootstrapping. "I am bootstrapping my company and don't want venture capital because VCs are evil ...!"

The STEM problem is real and a lot of colleges are trying to address it. The best progress has been made at CMU and Harvey-Mudd who recently reported statistics. I am of the very strong opinion that VC stats cannot improve until the STEM stats improve. That's one, if not two generations out. May be even three.

Then, we have to wait and see whether these STEM-educated women will stay in the workforce, or drop out in their mid-thirties to raise children. This has also been a major problem for the feminist movement in general. [Re: Talented Women: Please Do NOT Quit]

The venture capital vs. bootstrapping issue isn't a problem, IMO. It's an opportunity. In 1M/1M, I constantly advise entrepreneurs to bootstrap first, and then raise capital because the terms are way better that way. And, as I keep saying, VCs love to come to the rescue of victory, so let them!

If you want venture money, that is. I have done startups both ways - with and without VC funding. Each approach has its pros and cons, some VCs are good, some are incompetent, some are mediocre ... just like the rest of us.

But one thing is absolutely clear to me: VCs ONLY care about making money. That is their justification of existence. That is why their Limited Partners entrust money to them. If a woman entrepreneur shows them a pot of gold, I just cannot imagine they will reject it just because the person offering it is a woman. They're, usually, not that stupid.

Case in point Sophia Amoruso. Don't know her? She's the CEO of Nasty Gal. VCs have not only invested in her, they have beaten a path to her door to do so. Why? Because she bootstrapped a fabulously successful business. She created an opportunity for VCs to come to the rescue of victory!

Look, if we're going to play in a male-dominated field and make our mark, we need to be able to carry ourselves in ways such that men cannot intimidate us. The fact IS, that the field IS male dominated. The men compete with one another. Do you think they cut each other any slack? Why should women expect to be coddled?

I don't.

Do you?

["I think that the difference right now between good art and bad art is that the good artists are the people who are, in one way or another, creating, out of deep and honest concern, a vision of life in the twentieth century that is worth pursuing. And the bad artists, of whom there are many, are whining or moaning or staring, because it's fashionable, into the dark abyss." --John Gardner]