Encouraging diversity among entrepreneurs: 5 tips for your first fundraising

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Convinced that diversity has a positive impact on business performance, Idinvest Partners is committed to offering equal opportunities to men and women. However, figures on investment funds generally reveal a reality which is far from reflecting these ambitions.
 

In France, only 9% of start-ups are mixed or female.


According to Sista/BCG’s 2019 study, these 9% have been awarded only 5% of the funding available in venture capital.

Acting alongside 55 other funds in the Paris market, Idinvest Partners pledged in October 2019 to make its strategy more inclusive. This commitment will be measured quantitatively: one quarter of start-ups financed in 2025 must have been founded or co-founded by women, increasing to one third by 2030 and eventually half by 2050.


By 2025, half of Idinvest’s team and a third of our partners will be women.


In order to put these commitments into practice as soon as possible, Idinvest Partners invited SISTA to our offices to co-host the first ever event in their Inclusive Hours series. With the choice of theme ‘Fundraising’, the evening focused on making investment funds more accessible to women, particularly to women might not have access to the network needed to develop their projects and start conversations with the right people. For this occasion, we invited Jade Francine, Co-founder and COO of WeMaintain, Viviane Chaine-Ribeiro, President of the Supervisory Board of Talentia Software and Clémentine Piazza, CEO of InMemori. Experienced in raising funds themselves, they shared with us their vision, advice and ambitions as accomplished entrepreneurs.

  1. Make sure you’re well prepared

It’s important to throw yourself into fundraising, to act as an ambassador for your business and be present in negotiations. “It’s a sector where there are more men than women, so you need to recognise this and move past the gender bias, addressing the people you talk to without making a distinction based on their gender”, says Jade Francine.

“Your relationship with investors begins from the very first time you meet”

Being well prepared, an expert on your subject and having a clear vision for the medium to long term is vital, as this is what the various stakeholders will base future decisions on.

For Clémentine Piazza, who has singlehandedly concluded two rounds of fundraising, it is crucial to surround yourself with people you can trust, whether that be your team, advisors or investors. “Set your standards high”, she says, adding, “Your business is worth it”.

2. Be ambitious

According to the Women Equity Index 2019, companies led by women tend to demonstrate better economic performance than those led by men. Although these women leaders only represent 15.2% of turnover in the study’s global sample, their combined gross operating profits amount to 21.1% of the total. Furthermore, these businesses have an average operating profitability of 8% compared to 5.7% recorded by their male counterparts.

“It’s a flaw which comes with being a woman; women are more realistic and more rational”, explains Viviane Chaine-Ribeiro, in the industry for over 30 years.
 

“Women have got to be daring!”, she exclaims, something which our three speakers agree on


Women must embrace their careers, be prepared to show their face and stand up for their point of view. Diversity is undeniably a performance driver in all professional environments.

3. Share your long-term vision

Thanks to the connections, networking opportunities and support they offer when it comes to international development, choosing the right investor and building a good relationship is crucial to making your business a success. Clémentine Piazza underlines the importance of trust. “You need to be able to speak openly”, she says, adding, “Your professional network should be focused on making useful, valuable connections”.

Jade Francine insists on the importance of management, saying, “You need to recruit the right people and accept that with certain candidates, you will never be able to get them to develop the right skills. Avoid letting your clients down, stay true to your values and involve your employees in company projects”.

4. Know how to say no
 

At the beginning of an adventure, it can be tempting to rush into the first deal you’re offered. However, it is essential to take your time and, in some cases, reject deals which could turn out to be damaging. Viviane Chaine-Ribeiro gives the example of investors who ask for a place on the board. “I believe that you need one or two people who are central to the business and who work alongside you, as well as one or two independent administrators, so that they can each bring different experience to the table. When it comes to management, you need to be able to put your emotions to one side”.

Once again, having a clear vision and carefully defined ambitions will enable you to stay on course to meet your objectives.
 

5. Build a diverse, resilient team

The fundraising stage is difficult. That’s why it’s important to build the right team and choose the right people, in order to have strong support when facing up to failure and learning from mistakes. You need to be able to enjoy a challenge.

Diversity in terms of gender, age, experience, profession, or even interests and goals, is therefore essential

It allows for different ideas in each discussion and an examination of your own approach, helping you to bounce back faster.

As an investment fund facing bias in our own activities, good intentions are not enough; we need to put in place measures which guarantee diversity. This is why Idinvest Partners has pledged to rethink our recruitment process in order to hire more women, as well as re-examining our investment strategies and their impact on equality. It is impossible to achieve parity overnight, whether in our investments or in our team. However, by becoming aware of the reality of our surroundings, by opening discussion spaces and by encouraging a conversation to promote and develop entrepreneurship among women, we are convinced that we are moving in the right direction.

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