Where do entrepreneurs find direction when they are ready to get their business funded? I’ve been asked this question countless times, and interestingly, I’ve been asked about funding more often by women than by men.
Perhaps women are comfortable socializing their ideas during formulation with kindred spirits. Perhaps women’s funding knowledge is different than their male counterparts due to a different experience from growing their business. Since I’m a serial entrepreneur and an encouraging presence within the tech startup space, these casual conversations have made me seek out helpful resources for women entrepreneurs in particular. And, Venturecapital.org’s WeROC event - an abbreviation for Women Entrepreneurs Realizing Opportunities for Capital - is one such resource.
Going on its third year, WeROC is an all-day event on Thursday, October 24, 2019, at SLCC’s Miller Conference Center. WeROC is open to the public and connects women entrepreneurs and women co-founded companies (understand this is not a women exclusive event) with educational, service, and funding resources to cultivate business growth. WeROC hosts powerful presentations and panel conversations about the fundraising process, experiences and fundraising sources that are changing today’s economy. Several startups will pitch their company to investors as well, so event-goers can see for themselves what funding preparedness looks like.
I spoke to two of the WeROC organizers, Kathy Ricci and Marcia Nelson, about this year’s event and what attendees should expect. Their experiences say much about WeROC’s intention and purpose. Kathy Ricci is a business advisor in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program, helping small businesses “link learning to action.” This program provides participants practical skills such as negotiations, marketing, and employee management — all pertinent to WeROC attendees. Marcia Nelson is managing director at Alberleen Family Office Solutions, which is a global family office network born out of 2007-2010 financial crisis that was created for investment bankers and family offices to come together to incubate ideas and share deal flow. Currently, Alberleen works to create opportunities for its partners within its network of family office investors.
Marcia and Kathy summed it up the best - WeROC provides an opportunity to attain funding, find investors, and get investors interested in investing in women-led or women-founded businesses. According to a 2018 report from Pitchbook, only 2.2% of the $130 billion of venture capital funding went to women entrepreneurs or women-founded companies, and this is something that WeROC and Venturecapital.org intend to improve.
The first step is to educate about fundraising. WeROC is designed to address the lack of education and public resources that truly affect the funding of women-based enterprises on a local and regional basis. WeROC strives to provide education about business governance and funding paths that will help grow women-led and co-founded companies. WeROC is both men and women who want to learn, make contacts, as well as those who are simply interested in making a social impact by contributing to the economy through the support of women-led and women co-founded companies.
Marcia reflects on how WeROC impacted entrepreneurs who participated in the past, “Attendees gain ideas of what's possible in terms of where they can raise capital. People come away with potential co-founders, or with mentors, advisors and other resources, if that’s what they’re looking for. These relationships will help their businesses, not just from a networking perspective, but actual real-life potential relationships to help grow their businesses.”
Kathy dives into the fundraising educational aspect, “Women come away with a better understanding of fundraising options, such as equity versus debt-based funding, and what may be an appropriate match for their business, in addition to potential funding sources. I think that the premise of this conference is to really just show that there are lots of other opportunities and ways to get ready, to go forward.”
I’ve been asked to speak at this event about changing the culture for women entrepreneurs and also be a startup pitch judge, which I’m always excited to do. I invite anyone who is interested in start-ups and entrepreneurship — whether you are a start-up or a potential investor — to come out to WeROC and see first-hand the exhilarating and abundance of innovation and networking potential.
Thursday, October 24, 2019
7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Salt Lake Community College, Miller Conference Center
9750 South 300 West
Register online at: https://weroc2019.eventbrite.com
Please use this exclusive 20% off discount code “WCOLLECTIVE” (case sensitive) and I hope to see you there!