Women over-index on education and buying power. We control over 60% of personal wealth in the United States and account for 85% of consumer buying power. We earn 56% of Bachelor’s degrees and 60% of Graduate degrees. Yet over and over, I hear stories of women who feel like the products they use, the platforms they engage in, the professional development they receive and the healthcare they need doesn’t match to what’s on the market. They want and deserve to be in the driver’s seat of their lives. I joined Cue Ball to look for purposeful, female-focused startups coming in as first movers in under-recognized markets. With existing investments in MiniLuxe, Landit and True Botanicals, Cue Ball has backed companies with the power to transform industries across the health, wellness and professional development sectors. While Cue Ball wants to increase female founders in the venture arena, we also want take this new focus on equality one step further and say there are massive areas of opportunity in catering directly to women’s needs on a mass scale.
So what will it take ? For now, it takes being loud and taking a leap. We want to champion entrepreneurs pushing the boundaries of what’s comfortable.
Cosmopolitan declared that 2015 was the year “the period went public” highlighting innovation in tampon delivery and period friendly underwear. There are hundreds of fertility apps being sold on the App store opening up a dialogue among women instead of suffering alone. Wearable breast pumps and pelvic floor strengtheners are making it into mainstream press. This represents not only a huge step forward in social equity, but a massive financial opportunity to take these products to scale.
Outside of daily life and physical health, there are also opportunities to advance women in the workforce while creating immense value for stakeholders. Men still hold 95% of the Fortune 500 CEO positions and 80% of all S&P board seats. Yet, if the number of women in the workforce were to rise to the same level as men, the U.S. GDP would increase by 5%. And in the realm of the office, it’s not just a case of getting women into the workforce, it’s moving them up the ladder. Today, men are 30% more likely than women to be promoted from entry level to manager. By the time they climb the ranks to the Vice-President level 71% are men and 29% are women. From a human capital standpoint, there is an opportunity to create recruiting, promotional and workforce development offerings for start-ups to Fortune 500s. For every increase in gender equity in the workforce, there is a corresponding increase in both funding and revenue for companies small and large. It’s simple math. More women means more money.
And yet, this is an uphill battle. We are looking for companies that we have the potential to be a long term partner with because true value creation happens over time. We will keep funding until we no longer need to look at the label because it’s the standard norm that women’s products won’t hurt women’s health; Until Human Resources is actually a resource for all genders in terms of placement, payment and promotion; And until women have the information they need about their mental and physical health as well as their fertility journey in a proactive, tech-forward and non-judgemental manner. The entrepreneurs we’re meeting are starting companies to address their own needs. It’s common sense to invest in people who personally have a stake in the game. It’s time to innovate and invest our way out of the status quo. 50% of the population deserves it.
I’ll be blogging monthly about trends I’m seeing in
female-focused ventures and would love to hear feedback and ideas. And by all
means, if you’ve got a company you want to pitch, I’m all ears. Email me at [email protected].