#12: Anne Ravanona

Episode 12 - Anne Ravanona - Opportunity Loss: Closing the $300 billion global funding gap between men and women

Key Points:

  • Anne is on a mission to get more women entrepreneurs funded

  • Need to close the $300 billion funding gap between men and women

  • Help women understand the funding system, including the language, the biases and how to navigate the system

  • Change the funding system to provide fair and equal access to funding

After a successful business career, when Anne hit 40 she asked herself what she wanted to do with her life. The answer was a resounding “help female entrepreneurs.” This is when Anne created Global Invest Her.  

We’ve all read the stories about low funding for women but Anne is stepping up to build a network of women to help other women entrepreneurs. The funding gap between men and women is a whopping $300 billion, which is enormous. Anne’s mission is to close that gap and teach women how to navigate this complex system: one with ever-changing players and rules.

Successful female entrepreneurs help other women who are seeking funding by explaining their own journeys and how they were successful in the process. Change is coming, but only slowly: we’re still a long way off from equal funding, despite women being 51% of the global population.

Anne walks us through some of the brutal statistics and why most of the investment world is missing out on so many great ideas. The “opportunity loss” numbers are not easy to quantify but it seems hard to believe that businesses are fully realizing their potential when so few female  startup founders receive funding and even when they do, the amounts are generally lower.

While there are a few positive examples of existing investment funds, what’s really exciting today is the number of new funds created by women that focus on funding and assisting women.

As depressing as the current statistics can be, there’s good reason to be hopeful for something better moving forward. As Anne tells us in the episode, anyone wanting to team up to address this issue needs to talk with her so they can collaborate and create that better environment that we’re all demanding.

#8: Olga Egorsheva

Episode 8 - Olga Egorsheva - Social media content that looks like you

While working for a major brand covering Asia, the Middle East, and Russia, Olga came to the realization that the image databases available simply did not provide what she was looking for.  Most of the available stock photos were Western European or US-centric; fine for those markets but not very relatable for people outside of those areas.

Those stock photos failed to connect with customers, which inspired Olga to find a solution that would use real photos from real people, living all over the world.  Her goal was to build something more authentic and more diverse, so brands could better connect with their markets. Clients demanded high quality, easily searchable and ready to license content, so Lobster implemented a machine learning-driven solution.

A recurring theme throughout our discussion is the focus on highlighting ease while delivering high quality content. Lobster focuses on ease when it comes to their users’ experience, as well as their choice to headquarter their company in London, as opposed to Paris, Berlin, or other startup-centric cities.

Olga takes us through how Lobster built up their business by balancing the influx of investor money while growing the team. Adding new employees who fit well can be a challenge, but Lobster has had a lot of success with interns who have grown into full-time positions as the company has expanded. Theirs is a multi-cultural team spread across an impressive three countries, and they’re looking for more growth going into 2018.

It’s especially interesting to hear Olga’s thoughts on why Lobster chose to take investor money versus growing organically. She also discusses how and why her go-to sources for advice have evolved over time. There are definitely lessons to be learned throughout our discussion, including some of the challenges that Paris faces with startups who are fatigued with the bureaucracy. This is an opportunity to hear why a cool new startup - that has French connections - chose to locate and build in London rather than Paris.

Startups everywhere can learn from Olga, as she builds out a company that is innovative, exciting, diverse, and international. In addition, there’s something to learn here for countries and cities focused on building up their startup communities.

"Content Natives: Finding and Sourcing Visual Content", Olga Egorsheva, CEO and Co-Founder at Lobster, from Data Natives 2015