Women: the Emerging Market in High Growth Businesses: Human Capital (Part 2)

Women: the Emerging Market in High Growth Businesses: Human Capital (Part 2)
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When we launched Springboard Enterprises in January 2000 in Silicon Valley, there were more than a few skeptics as to whether we would find enough women in high growth businesses to present to venture capitalists. We were concerned too, but our first call for applications yielded 350 applicants. We were overjoyed, yet taxed as to how we would winnow those down to a presentable group. Fortunately Stanford and Berkeley MBA students agreed to help us to evaluate the first group down to 26, which were presented at our first Springboard Forum on January 27th.

Amazingly, 22 of the companies were funded, two companies merged, one woman sold her business and only one wasn't funded. We were off to the races, undeterred when the tech market crashed less than 60 days later. Twelve years later, we're still at it, having selected, trained and presented 481 women entrepreneurs to raise capital. With $5.5 billion raised, and 30 % with positive liquidity events so far, we can say this initiative is a resounding success.

What have we learned about these well-educated, highly-driven women who are scaling sustainable businesses, creating wealth for themselves and investors, and providing jobs for the economy? We've learned it's all about Human Capital, and how women are learning to use it.

Human Capital starts with our advisors who select the most viable entrepreneurs who then train in our boot camps. From there, the advisors and coaches take the entrepreneurs through their paces, preparing them for their introductions to venture capitalists eight to twelve weeks later. The presentation is just the beginning, not the end, of our commitment. Our teams stay with these entrepreneurs throughout all stages of growth.

We work hard to connect them to the right sources of talent to build out their management teams, the right corporations for business relationships, and the right sources for funding. Being an entrepreneur trying to scale a business is hard work and especially grueling if you are out there alone. At Springboard, we've got their back. It's something the guys have had for a long time, and women are now just learning.

We do not isolate these talented women to only Springboard. We also recommend them to other forums to increase their network of contacts. We are also working to do the same through business and alumnae networks around the country and around the globe.

There are many connectors and collaborators supporting the network of Human Capital. Many of them joined in Springboard upon the announcement of our partnership with Start Up America Women in October 2011.

Most companies, including those founded by women as well as men, would fail to get to critical mass without their networks of Human Capital. Women come to Springboard looking for financial capital. They leave knowing the value of Human Capital. What is that value? Priceless.

In my next blog, I'll examine these human capital networks and what they bring to the table.

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