This article is by Pilar Stella Ingargiola, the founder and chief executive of OneGiving, a for-profit standardized giving platform for brands and consumers. Follow her on Twitter at @pilarstella.
A recent Forbes.com article highlighted 12 entrepreneurs who “are changing L.A. forever.” There was one slight oversight: There were no women mentioned.
This isn’t the first time women have been omitted from a key list, but hopefully it is a teachable moment to highlight some of the successful women entrepreneurs who are transforming the sector and the city.
We women entrepreneurs have become adept at competing in business in increasingly thoughtful and strategic ways. Continuing to do our work with excellence will go a long way toward changing values and perceptions of women entrepreneurs, but it won’t be enough. We also have to start speaking and working together to raise the visibility and recognition of women as successful and profitable leaders in startups, tech, and business in general—not as an afterthought, but as irrefutable and indispensable partners in the field.
What does the research tell us that we need to know about women in business and startups? First, having women in leadership roles results in increased performance and returns for companies and shareholders. A Women Matter 2010 report found that companies with a higher proportion of women in their executive committees had the best performance. A Catalyst report found that the organizations most inclusive of women in top management achieved 35% higher returns on investment and 34% better total return to shareholders, versus their peers. In addition, women-owned businesses added 500,000 jobs during the recent recession, according to theWhite House Women’s Entrepreneurship Conference, 2010.
Despite these successes, financing for women in technology continues to lag behind that for men. Fewer than 10% of high tech startups have a female founder or president. That low number could be related to women’s lack of access to equity capital. In 2010, women made up over 30% of the tech workforce, yet gained only 11% of angel financing and 6% of venture funding. As a result, women-owned startup companies tend to start with less capitaland tend to build high tech companies that are more capital-efficient than the norm.
Meanwhile women’s use of technology continues to grow, particularly in social networks and mobile. A TechCrunch article reported that women are the majority users of social networking sites, spending 30% more time than men on the sites and accounting for 55% of mobile social network usage.
What does this mean? Despite continuing to thrive and succeed, and doing so with less capital, women continue to be underrepresented and underfunded in the startup, technology, and entrepreneurial world.
A CNBC article indicated that investors invest in what they know. So if most investors, including venture capitalists and angel investors, are men, most likely they will invest in what they know: men. Yet if they begin to learn more about the success rates and efficiencies of women in business, tech, and startups, perhaps they will begin to invest in more women-led businesses, and perhaps even see improvement in returns and outcomes.
Here are 10 women who are changing the game for business, innovation, startups, and technology in Los Angeles. From mid-career to experienced veterans, these women are working to innovate and transform the sector, in both traditional and non-traditional ways. They are founding funds, investing in startups, and launching accelerators, incubators, co-office spaces, and centers of innovation to provide the infrastructure and support to empower other entrepreneurs to succeed, thrive, and make a difference.
Jen Boulden, co-founder, Ideal Bite
A successful entrepreneur, angel investor, and media personality, Jen Boulden is a true pioneer in the green business world. She co-founded Ideal Bite in 2005 to cater to the untapped “light green consumer” market and grew the company to more than half a million subscribers to its daily eco e-mail before selling the venture to The Walt Disney Company in 2008. Jen has appeared on shows including Good Morning America, The Today Show, Martha Stewart and The View, and has authored articles for publications ranging from Fast Company to The Huffington Post. Follow her on Twitter at @JenBoulden.