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The Why

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Only 2% of the CEOs in India are women.

In the midst of conversations around women rising up corporate ladders, playing a more active role in the startup ecosystem, and taking on roles as investors and top management, the irony remains that only a measly 2% of CEOs in India are female.

While this statistic looks (only) a little better when we zoom into the startup ecosystem, women led startups still see less funding - both in the number of deals and in the size of checks - along with several other roadblocks in their path to building massive businesses.

To further understand this disparity, we at Blume spoke with a diverse group of female founders in our network, starting with founders who are thinking of starting up, to founders who have already built large companies. Our question to them was singular - how has your entrepreneurial journey as a female founder, been different from that of your male counterparts? The answers we got were far wider and far more complex than we had imagined.

Here is a sneak peak into what we found:

  1. Fewer women in engineering and business schools. While attending a top tier school is not the only path to entrepreneurship, it does aid the journey by providing a foundation to gain relevant skills, an atmosphere of entrepreneurial aspirations being encouraged, and a strong network to learn and hire from in the future. Across fields, gender disparity in education is the beginning of deeper gender disparity through the workforce - entrepreneurship is no different.
  2. Social structures. While women are beginning to break into the labor force in larger numbers, fewer women receive encouragement from families and friends for starting up - a career rightfully seen as all consuming, risky, and aggressive.
  3. Team management. Several female founders noted that they get seen and responded to very differently than their male counterparts, and are often taken more lightly by blue collar staff, older male employees, or team members that are not used to taking orders from female bosses. Several founders also alluded to being taken less seriously in more technical fields like finance and engineering, and thus having a harder time hiring for roles in those teams.
  4. Funding. The statistics on funding for female led businesses is a story that tells itself. According to data from Venture Intelligence, only 6.5% of the funding raised among the top 150 funded start-ups in India in 2019 went to startups led by female founders. Female founders also have a much harder time receiving angel funding from traditional sources like family or high net worth individuals. While several other sources of capital exist, similar patterns can be seen across most of them, leaving female founders far more hard pressed to raise capital, especially early on in their business.
  5. Networks. The essence of building a business is learning on the job everyday; and the most effective way to learn continuously is by creating a network of experienced entrepreneurs, business leaders, funders, and industry experts to learn from. Several seasoned founders of unicorn startups have also spoken about how their networks have helped them hire the best employees, find game changing business partners, and raise capital. The combination of fewer college networks (top engineering colleges squarely dominate the startup ecosystem), social structures, and peer perceptions often come in the way of female founders being able to create strong networks for themselves.

While the conversations we had painted a picture of a tough road, what we also saw were female founders that were determinedresilient, and brilliant. The reality might have looked grim, but they decided firmly, that this was NOT the reality they dreamt of seeing. So despite the trials they faced, several of them have built great teams, loved brands, large businesses, and remain inspiring entrepreneurs. Inspired by their journeys, we too at Blume decided to create a tribe of female founders who can lead.

Presenting Lead Tribe

We decided to use our learnings from backing 100+ companies over the last decade, and our network of inspiring founders, funders, and business leaders, to create a platform for early stage female founders to learn and grow their networks.

Lead Tribe is a cohortized learning program for a highly curated group of early stage female founders. Our goal is to help founders grow their networks - their ‘tribe’ - and learn how other founders have tackled key business challenges like hiring, fundraising, scaling, product testing, marketing, and others.

We have designed the first cohort of Lead Tribe to run as a fully virtual program from March 2022 to May 2022. During the program, selected founders will have access to speakers in closed group sessions to learn about specific business challenges and ask them questions to solve their specific business needs. Founders will get to network with each other as well as other seasoned entrepreneurs to grow their long term networks. We hope to see founders from our first cohort use these learnings to grow their businesses rapidly, and rely on the network they find here to exchange ideas, insights, and support.

Applying to Lead Tribe

Female founders (including founders with male co-founders) who have already launched their business and are seeing some traction are eligible to apply. Given that our speakers will be India focused experts, founders based in or solving problems in India will benefit the most.

You can find more information about Lead Tribe including our eligibility and selection process on www.blume.vc/leadtribeTo apply to join our second cohort, please submit this application form by February 19th, 2022 .