Funding Bias: How Female Entrepreneurs Can Win the Battle in Raising Capital

UPDATED: April 16, 2024
PUBLISHED: March 29, 2024
4 female executives combating funding bias

Women run the world, influencing a staggering 85% of consumer spending with a $20 trillion annual expenditure. Female-founded companies not only match but often surpass their male counterparts in revenue growth and profitability.

Yet the stark reality remains: the funding landscape starkly contrasts this influence, with only 2.8% of venture capital funds allocated to women-only teams in 2023. Worse, black and ethnic minority-led female businesses received less than 2%. 

Four years ago, I raised $2.5 million in funding for my community startup Vibely (which I later sold to the $6.5B revenue-generating Kajabi). In the fundraising success, I’ve spoken with many female entrepreneurs about the fundraising process. The general consensus is that raising capital is an uphill battle, where gender and racial prejudices still block great ideas from gaining funding.

Here’s what I wish more women knew: The path to true gender parity lies not only in navigating the fundraising landscape but in fundamentally reshaping it through inclusivity and empowerment. 

The secret to staying motivated for the long-haul

Perseverance is genius in disguise. So much so, that entrepreneurs who push beyond the three-year mark are 22% more likely to succeed, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.

A common misconception is that entrepreneurs are rugged individualists.  Harvard Business Review’s analysis reveals this startling insight: 

“65% of entrepreneurs report high levels of stress, with a third facing the risk of burnout. This stark figure underscores the entrepreneurial journey’s hidden cost: mental health. Far beyond the hustle, it’s a battle waged in solitude, where the founder’s resilience is tested against the backdrop of relentless uncertainty and unparalleled demands.”

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The narrative of entrepreneurship often glorifies the solitary fighter, yet I have conviction in the opposite: long-term grit stems from the embrace of a supportive community. 

My family’s meteoric rise from extreme poverty to middle-class with heavy support from their Taiwanese American Association, exemplified the transformative power of community. 

This lesson is vital for female entrepreneurs: in a realm where isolation often underscores the entrepreneurial journey. Finding a nurturing community is unequivocally indispensable for enduring success and opportunities.

Here are 3 ways to extend your grit:

  1. Proactively forge connections: I was never blessed with a well-connected family, so I had to forge my own network with cold outreach via email and DMs. Once you find your people, your willpower will increasingly fortify with shared challenges, goals, and values. 
  2. Seek prosperity by proximity: Surround yourself with others like you in-person. I experienced a palpable fundraising advantage due to living in Silicon Valley, where all founders & investors aggregate. A multiplicity of opportunities opened, like investor introductions, new customers, etc.
  3. Start your own community: Taking initiative to start a collective is abundantly rewarded with disproportionate opportunities. Build a community of fellow entrepreneurs who can offer emotional support, share experiences, and provide encouragement during challenging times.

Fight investor funding bias with these power tactics

Most investors do not fully grock the biases behind their investment decisions, as they are instinctually pattern-matching for founders who look and behave like billionaire entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, Adam Newman, Travis Kalanick, and Mark Zuckerberg. 

But entrepreneurship in the media does not reflect entrepreneurship in the data—or the day-to-day. Boston Consulting Group published that women-led startups most often outperform their male-led equivalent, “generating 10% more in cumulative revenue over a five-year period.” Women receive not only fewer investments but also, on average, these investments are half the dollar amount compared to those received by their male counterparts.

Here are 4 actionable ways to strengthen your pitch:

  1. Focus on your traction: Highlight your growth numbers, profit margins, revenue, customer acquisition costs, lifetime value—whatever business numbers emphasize your unique edge. Circle back to these numbers whenever relevant.
  2. Emphasize all social proof: The best way to gain someone’s interest is to show you have the utmost legitimacy. Start and end  with your customers, investors, highlights, and testimonials. In this way, investors will feel honored to join the ride. 
  1. Declare a bold contrarian future: Predict the future with certainty. Then, tell them why your business will be front and center in that future. Don’t dance around the predictions with “if’s” and “maybe’s”. Investors want to see confidence that you see the world differently—and that you’re willing to bet on your own contrarianism.
  2. Prepare for counterarguments: When researching the differences between men and women founders, BCG learned: “More women report being asked during their presentation to establish that they understand basic technical knowledge.” Anticipate potential skepticism and prepare data-driven responses.

Capitalize your unique feminine strengths

In the discourse of leadership, the intrinsic qualities often associated with femininity—empathy, intuition, collaboration—are not just beneficial but essential for transformative leadership. 

My journey has taught me the dual-edged nature of empathy in business decision-making, highlighting the importance of balancing empathetic leadership with strategic growth objectives. 

In 2024, as we embrace the female economy’s potential, it’s crucial to recognize and harness these feminine strengths in fundraising and beyond, not as a workaround for gender biases but as a celebration of diversity and inclusivity in entrepreneurship. The path to gender parity in entrepreneurship is not merely about navigating existing barriers but about dismantling them through inclusive practices and the celebration of diversity.

 As we champion the cause of ‘Inspiring Inclusivity’ this International Women’s Day, let’s commit to creating spaces in conversations and boardrooms alike, where women’s voices are not just heard but are instrumental in shaping the future of business. 

This journey is not just about individual success; it’s about redefining the entrepreneurial landscape to be truly inclusive, where the next generation of women founders is empowered to lead with their unique strengths and visions.

Photo by Jacob Lund/

Teri Yu is the director of product at Kajabi, the all-in-one platform for knowledge creators that helps them turn what they know into sustainable online businesses. Prior to Kajabi, Teri was CEO and Co-founder of Vibely, an innovative social media platform that helps creators monetize their audience through community engagement, providing a place for creators to advertise exclusive events, lead vibrant discussions and share resources.