A panel of women entrepreneurs, moderated by Keren Hod, Founder and CEO of WE Women Entrepreneurship, held as part of the Mind the Tech conference in New York, addressed a variety of topics. Some of the topics are relevant for all entrepreneurs, others only for women entrepreneurs.
However, one of the main points raised again and again is the minority of women among the founders of startup companies as well as the small number of women who are partners in venture capital funds.
“Only 2% of start-up funding goes to women-founded companies, is that an improvement?” Hod asked the panelists.
“Changes are made slowly, we need to turn successful women into role models. As soon as others think it’s possible, it will happen more often,” said Inbar Haham, co-founder and managing partner of venture capital fund INcapital Unternehmungen.
However, Timor Arbel-Sadras, CEO of LeumiTech, contradicted Haham: “In absolute terms we may see more women, but in percentage terms there really is no progress. Only 10% of partners in venture capital funds are women and that number hasn’t increased in years. As a mother of daughters, I find that disturbing.”
“We at Team8 are looking for female entrepreneurs and there are hardly any, it got even worse after Covid and the transition to working from home, where women still carry a larger part of the burden. So out of 97 unicorns that exist in Israel today, only one was founded by a woman,” noted Galia Beer Gavel, a partner at Team8, citing Eynat Guez, who founded Papaya, a company active in the HR tech sector operates.
Inna Braverman, founder and CEO of Eco Wave Power, pointed out that even in the cleantech sector in which the company she founded operates, only 5% of executives are women. “When I started the company at the age of 24, every time I went into meeting rooms to introduce Eco Wave, everyone turned to me just to ask if I could bring them coffee or water. Even when the participants realized that I was the founder, they did not address the questions about the technology to me. Besides, when I was researching PR companies in the process of Eco Wave’s IPO on the Stockholm Stock Exchange, the CEO advised me of one of the largest When companies in the industry in Sweden step down from the position of CEO of the company and instead bring a gray-haired man on board, she told me that investors trust men more.”
The discussion later shifted to broader issues related to the management of startup companies, such as timing of entry into the US market, relocation of senior executives to the US, and considerations of the location of operations within the US, Haham noted that more and more Silicon Valley companies are moving to smaller cities like Austin, Texas and Miami: “This is a very smart move because the cost of living outside of San Francisco is much lower, rent in Austin is a fraction of what it is in Silicon Valley. We also like Toronto very much because there are many employees with a high level of education and relatively low costs. We have several companies there and some in Miami as well.”
Arbel-Sadras believes that any company wishing to go public must enter the US market in order to gain more confidence from investors. According to her, “In the past, startups that were starting to grow would move management to the US. This is especially important for companies that sell to end customers. However, in recent years we see that the management remains in Israel and today it depends on the company its relationship with the market.”
Beer Gavel added that “recently, since the end of the epidemic, entrepreneurs have started to feel FOMO again, they fear they are missing something important and want to move to the US”.
Finally, Braverman was asked to offer advice to women entrepreneurs: “My number one piece of advice to women is don’t be afraid to talk about money and don’t be afraid to ask for money. If a woman needs a million dollars for her startup, she will ask for half a million dollars, while men will ask for five million.”