Women and men have different styles when it comes to pitching venture capitalists on their businesses. Women rely on metrics, while men pitch broad visions, according to women VCs at MIT’s 16th Annual Venture Capital Conference. The Boston Business Journal reported that the topic was one of many at the Women in VC panel event, which also touched upon the challenges and solutions in the women-led VC space.
While men tend to pitch a vision for the future, women have a better handle on their startup’s financials, said Megan Quinn, partner at Menlo Park, Calif.-based VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Women are also more likely to be risk-averse and cautious in pitching ideas, added Jennifer Jordan, vice president at Boston-based venture firm MassVentures. “What I see is often they’ve gone too far to the side of mitigating all the risk,” Jordan said. She tells women to “own the vision and the details” when pitching investors.
Female VCs also emphasized the importance of connecting with male and female mentors to get feedback on business strategy. “Seek out harsh criticism,” said Maia Heymann, senior managing director for Cambridge-based CommonAngels. “Find people whom you think will be honest, and ask for feedback … that’s tough to hear but that’s going to make you step up your game.”
The panel also said that women need to be encouraged to become entrepreneurs. In turn, that could push up the number of women VCs. “You can’t be what you can’t see,” Quinn said. “And you can’t relate to someone who is nothing like you.”
Sheila Lirio Marcelo, founder and CEO of Waltham, Mass.-based family-care company Care.com, told the Business Journal about the challenges and opportunities facing women entrepreneurs. She said the environment for women entrepreneurs has improved since she founded her firm in 2006. “It’s always been tough for women to raise money, especially venture capital, and seven years ago, there weren’t a lot of women-funded companies, but I think that’s rapidly changing,” said Marcelo. Care.com has an IPO in the works.
Companies founded by women made up only 4 percent of all U.S. venture deals in 2004. However, during the first half of 2013, they represented 13 percent, according to a recent report from research firm Pitchbook.