#002 - Women Supporting Women
And how biased questions are ruining female founders' chances
BFFs is a bi-weekly email for Asia’s female founders around resources on growing a business, cultivating friendships, and funding opportunities. Brought to you by Chief Best Friends, a podcast helping women succeed in work and business through meaningful friendships.
If you’ve been enjoying these round-ups, forward it to a friend, or share with your network. If you’re reading it for the first time, consider subscribing.
Hello to all 111 of you! 👋
It’s been surreal to grow our community within a few weeks and I’m excited to work on creating content that fully serves you.
BFFs was born with the desire to share resources and opportunities for female founders here in Asia, particularly funding opportunities. I’m hoping to go full-time building Chief Best Friends beyond a podcast and I’m realising that most of the resources I find are not available for us here based in Asia.
While there’s no one-stop-shop to find these (yet), I hope that with my research I can share many of these opportunities as possible. And if not available, for us to find ways to bring people together in creating them. I truly believe in the power of collaboration and that together, we are so much more powerful.
I’ll keep this short as there is a lot of good content linked below for you to read deeply. From learning how much advocating for women can bring an economy, to an honest take at fundraising while pregnant. Not to mention all the biases that the workplace creates, including a double-sided look at how VCs ask founders questions depending on gender.
The fight ain't over till it's over. As much as women have progressed and become more independent over the decades, there is still work to be done and growth to be had. Economically speaking in Asia Pacific, we can look at as much as 12% growth than if we do business as usual. That's a whopping increase of 4.5 trillion USD. 🤑Economically speaking, by ignoring or not enabling women to our full potential it is like fighting with one hand tied behind one’s back.
Start-up life is not gentle to a woman's life. It's not gentle to anyone's life, really. Though if we're being honest, we know that as women we experience more bias and double-standards and that's tricky to navigate when you're building and fundraising for business. This interview of Shiyan Koh, Managing Partner at Hustle Fund is full of insights into how founders can strategically grow their teams and why women's groups are helpful for female founders.
Entrepreneurship's fine print that most people ignore. Starting a business has never been easier than it is today. Success stories and the supposed genius are easy to spot when looked at on hindsight. The reality is, starting a business isn't as clear-cut, straightforward, and easy as it looks from a glossy writeup. In the book, Ego is the Enemy, Ryan Holiday shares, "Reducing it to a narrative retroactively creates clarity that never was and never will be there." So I'm thankful that Antoinette from SafeSpace has made it a point to share this resource and truth list about what people don't tell you about the entrepreneurship journey.
What's hindering us from creating meaningful relationships at work? The myth that women are catty and bullies to one another isn't an inherently female thing. Before I started Chief Best Friends, I felt this kind of animosity from some managers and coworkers, which led me to explore whether it's possible to have friendships and business co-exist. The more I dug deep, I now realise that this is a by-product of the systems at large. Women sometimes have fraught work relationships with other women, not because they have some unique, female psychological characteristic, it’s because of workplace discrimination.
How do we become genuine allies to one another? Knowing what we're up against and helping each other is a good way to push back on the ingrained behaviour we encounter at work. There are ways for women to band together so these little injustices can be managed. I mean, have you ever been ignored in a meeting only for your idea to be repeated by a man and then applauded? Or have you ever been called out for not being assertive to then being called too bossy? Yes and yes.
Follow the money and you'll find where the bias is. This amazing Twitter thread from Lolita Taub illustrates ways that VC funding has inherently failed founders coming from diverse backgrounds. As much as we're told our startup isn't “VC-friendly”, is as much a reflection of the way the world is built to continually undermine us. There's no quick solution to this but the more we accept that this is how the world works, the better it is for us to move through it with grace. And perhaps even find ways to shift them.
Did you know female founders get asked different questions by VCs? This doesn't come as a shock anymore but it's good to see it laid out so clearly: "They tended to ask men questions about the potential for gains and women about the potential for losses. We found evidence of this bias with both male and female VCs." So how can female founders even get past this one? By reframing our response to the potential of the market and not just focusing on how we're going to protect it. If you're keen to see what the questions are, scroll a little more below.
An honest and hair-raising look at fundraising. Emily Best of Seed&Spark shared her account of fundraising for her startup as well as the ups and downs of running a business. I appreciate these kinds of stories because media tend to glorify the actual fundraising, glossing over the hustle and sacrifice needed to get there. Not to mention the hard work that comes after the cheque has been signed.
Wonder how many investors have noticed this pattern of questioning. 🤔 If you’re an investor, have you noticed this too? If you’re planning ways to mitigate this bias, I’d love to know.
P.S. Here’s the link again to the super short survey (a minute or less), in case you haven’t done so. If you have already, thank you!
Chief Best Friends Radar 📡
HerCapital launches in Singapore helmed by Tanya Rolfe and Gail Wong. 💰Their debut fundraised $10 million to invest in female founders of various stages.
When we interviewed Naomi and Frances of Red Shoe Stories, the platform wasn't ready yet, but now it is! 📚They help personalise children's books, perfect for gifting. Create your picture book here!
WeBarre goes virtual! 🩰The lockdowns have brought amazing changes and pivots in businesses and it's so good to see Linda and Anabel bring the benefits of barre into our living rooms. Don't forget to check out their friendship story here.
✨Shine Board ✨
Yuliya is building Aplace, a restaurant discovery platform based on chefs recommendations. 🍜 Now that we’re able to dine out again, this comes in super handy.
Fairli launched Su Nougat which is a chewy kind of nougat, not too sweet and comes with amazing flavours like scallion, which is currently my favourite. If you’re in Singapore, go order some via her insta @sunougatsg
📲Something to celebrate? Tweet me your wins @nikipaniki
👉Got tips, news, content, data to share? Email email@example.com.
💜Be a friend and ally. Share this using the button below.