Lately, we have seen quite a few articles written about funding for startups, most predominately, about female founders. This subject holds true to my heart as my company is also looking for funding and it can be difficult as a woman to find investors who understand your vision and your passion. Why aren't there many female investors out there? Well, we haven't found them yet and Vicki Saunders, founder of SheEO is here to change that paradigm.
StilettoGal: How did you start your company?
Vicki Saunders: I started SheEO to solve a problem that has made me crazy for years - the lack of funding and support for women to run businesses on their own terms. We are obsessed with chasing unicorns (billion dollar companies with huge returns - that are not the norm) and have built a narrative around ‘go big or go home’ and ‘winner takes all’ that has left us with a world where 62 people have the same wealth as 3.5 billion people. It’s a model that is not serving us well and it needs to be redesigned. Women have a much more practical ways of running businesses that are steeped in reality, exceptionally capital efficient and focused on creating a better world. I think there this a huge wealth creation opportunity here that is being missed.
SG: Who inspires you and why?
VS: Everyone who comes up with an idea and seeks to make it reality is an inspiration to me. I think that making your dream a reality is one of the hardest and most rewarding pursuits there is and the world needs a lot more of us out there pursuing new models and a better world.
SG: What are some challenges that you have had in your businesses and how have you overcome them?
VS: Where to start? I have started and run 5 businesses and created countless programs and initiatives. The biggest challenge I have faced is believing in how I see the world (almost everything to me seems broken) and holding on to that when most of the world seems to have their head down and thinks “that’s just the way it is”.
I know that we made all of this up and we can change it if we want. Holding on to your vision and pursuing it against the tide is a big challenge and I managed to surround myself with my tribe over the years; the people out there who are working on new models and a better way forward.
One of my favorite quotes is from Buckminster Fuller: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” I cannot read and remember that quote enough.
SG: If you could go back to your 25 year old self, what would you say to her?
- Own your greatness
- Be bold
- Show up with love and respect
- Listen deeply
- Take your time
- Consider the future
SG: How can we change the status quo for women and funding?
VS: We change the status quo for women by redesigning the processes we have in place and respecting a different way of operating. I think we have focused on women as the “problem” for years. We say, how can women to bolder, be more confident, to take more risks, etc and I say, really? i think the last thing we need is more risky, shoot for the moon, bet it all on red thinking. We need new models that are more capital efficient, that focus on building thriving communities and a better world. Women start at that point and the world needs more women. Thankfully, the ladies are coming and we are starting businesses at 1.5x the pace of men. We are inheriting 75% of the largest wealth transfer in history and we make 80% of purchasing decisions. We have all that we need to help each other.
SheEO’s Radical Generosity Initiative calls on 1000 women per region to contribute $1,000 each as an Act of Radical Generosity to provide 0% interest loans to women-led ventures with at least $50K in revenue that are creating a better world. Our goal is to have 1 million women finance and support 10,000 entrepreneurs by 2020, community by community and build a marketplace of exceptionally talented, ambitious female entrepreneurs changing the world.
SG: How do you define success?
VS: Living to my fullest every day. Being compassionate with myself and others.
SG: What do you want your legacy to be?
VS: I want to be remembered as a great mentor and as a radically generous goddess!
SG: What kind of shoe are you and why?
VS: Purple converse. I love to be free in all I do, including movement. Purple is the color of SheEO because it represents the calm stability of blue and the fierce energy of red. Purple represents creativity, wisdom, dignity, devotion, peace, mystery, independence and magic.
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