#001 - Maiden Voyage
Shall we pop the champagne? 🍾
Welcome to BFFs, a bi-weekly newsletter around Asia’s female-owned businesses, friendships, and funds. I’m Niki, founder of Chief Best Friends, a podcast that helps women succeed at work and in business through meaningful friendships.
You’re receiving this because (a) you signed up to receive updates on new episodes—more on this in a bit, or (b) you signed up to receive updates on my research and investigation around Asia’s female funding landscape. In a way, these two things are the same.
The podcast is the catalyst for the expanded work I am now doing around female founders. Having spoken and interacted with some of the amazing women and their work best friends in Season 1, I realise that while love (i.e. relationship/friendship) does make the world go ‘round, so does money. This newsletter aims to unpack the intertwining forces and systems that hinder and help women succeed in work and business.
Why Asia and why now?
When researching for numbers and data around female funding in Asia, I couldn’t find anything with a gendered dataset. There are amazing media outlets and organisations who are doing the work and compiling the VC landscape. I have reached out to share and request for a gendered dataset next time they crunch the numbers. Here’s hoping that comes true and that we have something to pore over in the next few months. In the meantime, the data we have available is from the US. Here’s a screenshot of a Techcrunch article on the latest figure.
I have to be honest here but “all-time high” and “2.8 percent” feels like an oxymoron. Granted, this is already a 0.6 percent improvement from the year prior and I’m glad that number is moving in a positive direction. While it is something to celebrate, we still have a long way to go. And for those of us in Asia, a good start is figuring out where we are currently, and without the right data, we’re going into this blind.
I’m hoping you stick around for future issues and join me in my quest to find out what’s going on for female founders in Asia. Else, stay for a stellar lineup of guests coming up in Season 2 of Chief Best Friends.
It’s a hard knock life for women. If this pandemic taught us anything, it’s that it can amplify both the good and the bad. Women are losing or quitting their jobs in vulnerable low-paying workplaces like bars, conference venues, hairdressing salons, hotels, pubs and restaurants. Not to mention being the designated caretaker while working from home.
Fall down seven, stand up eight. This proverb encapsulates the journey of Suzy Batiz who turned Poo-Pourri into a $240 million empire where she makes stinky bathrooms a thing of the past. Her string of failed business attempts eventually landed her on a winning one. The lesson? A string of failures doesn’t necessarily make you one. (Tweet this)
Let’s cut each other some slack. When it comes to our friends, we tend to expect a lot out of them especially when times are tough. But an unprecedented global pandemic is showing us that lowering the bar may be the truest act of friendship.
Why your good friend can be good for business. Whether that’s for the community, emotional support, or making things fun at work, I fully believe business besties make you a better founder. They don’t necessarily have to be a co-founder. Chief best friends come in many shapes and sizes: sounding board, an accountability partner, and that friend who understands and cheers you on at work.
VC tighten purse strings for female founders. Women, especially first-time founders, have long lagged behind men in raising venture capital for their startups. But in the pandemic's heightened climate of caution, anecdotes from female founders suggest that they face even greater hurdles because VCs are suddenly turning more risk-averse. Good thing for female founders, we’re more capital-efficient because of this, making us better poised to ride through this wave.
Who would have thought our hustle will save us. Elizabeth Yin, partner at Hustle Fund shares her take on the state of current VC trends. Particularly interesting is the irony she shares about founders who’ve had an easy time raising funds are the ones she’s most worried about. Why? The founders who’ve had the hardest time raising funds are more thrifty, have good business practices, and keep an eagle-eye on the cash.
Something only we know. Changing biases in male-dominated industries will probably take ages but at least the work has begun. Female founders are now increasingly seeking out female investors for cash, while experienced women in venture capital are setting up networks to help other women get into angel investing, a path that could help them become a professional venture capitalist.
Cocoon Cap launches mentor sessions for female founders. Female Founders Mentoring Hours offers over 50 female founders 1:1 mentoring sessions with some of the region’s most prominent VCs. It’s a great initiative and something I am delighted to see come out of Southeast Asia. The deadline has passed but do follow Cocoon Cap to find out when the next one is. (Spoiler: I managed to get into the event submitting my vision for the future of Chief Best Friends!)
Chief Best Friends Radar 📡
News and updates from work besties everywhere
Best friends powerhouses, Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow, finally launched their book Big Friendship this month! The book details the rise and (almost) fall of their friendship and what it took to get them back together. (Spoiler: they’re coming on to the podcast for Season 2. Excited!)
Emma and Collette, chief best friends behind PR recruitment firm Prospect Resourcing, celebrated 18 years (!!) in the industry and perhaps more as friends.
Ren and Yvonne of the fashion clothing store, Matter Prints, hit pause and says goodbye. The global pandemic is causing a ripple of closures across various industries, especially retail.
Celebrating our community’s wins
K.A. (@kriscaantonio), an amazing singer, host, makeup artist and for me the OG hustler, gave birth to a healthy baby boy. 👶 Amazed to see my best friend bring a human into this world.
Tabitha (@herawakening) shares that her online yoga community has grown despite lockdowns. She started with 4 students and now have a student roster of 24! 🧘🏻♀️Seeing my good friends thrive gives me all the warm fuzzies. On that note, I have joined her online and in-person classes multiple times and they are yummy for the body.
📲Something to celebrate? Tweet me your wins @nikipaniki
👉Got tips, news, content, data to share? Email email@example.com.
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