Finding Success as a Female Founder: Insights and Takeaways

This month, we attended an event at the Riveter, a female-forward workspace located in Seattle’s Capitol Hill, for an intimate dialogue with the women of Microsoft* for Startups. The theme for the evening was, Finding Success as a Female Founder and was moderated by GeekWire and emerging tech reporter Taylor Soper.

Given the fact that APCO was founded and is chaired by a female entrepreneur, we were interested to learn more. The evening consisted of an in-depth panel discussion with Microsoft’s global female leaders ranging from ex-entrepreneurs, to executives, to investors. Each panelist provided her global perspective and insights on the opportunities and overcoming challenges as a female founder. It was interesting to hear some of their global findings on female founders, including:

  • Women founders/entrepreneurs receive a disproportionately smaller amount of venture funding compared to male founders/entrepreneurs.
  • Studies show that investing in companies founded by women delivers significantly higher returns than the market average.
  • Women entrepreneurs are more susceptible to imposter syndrome (feeling like a fraud), particularly when working in a field dominated by men.

Margery Kraus, APCO’s founder and executive chairwoman, started a thriving business back in 1984, despite the obstacles many female founders face. She grew APCO from a small communications company in Washington, D.C., to a multinational consulting firm in major cities throughout the world. Later, Margery led a management buyout of the firm, making APCO one of the largest privately owned communications and public affairs firms in the world. For reasons like this, she was recently recognized as one of the 20 most influential communicators of the past 20 years.

Here at APCO, women continue to push boundaries every day across the network. Here are few takeaways from The Riveter, which we can all learn from as growing professionals:

  • Network like it’s nobody’s business. Networking is an opportunity build a strong support group, find a mentor and engage with other likeminded (and also different) professionals.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Female entrepreneurs often shorten their path to success when they take things on without seeking help along the way. That said, you’ll be surprised that most people are willing to help if you just ask.
  • Keep learning. Almost every successful entrepreneur has thrived because they’re an avid learner and continue to grow, innovate and acquire knowledge.
  • Be confident. Know that being wrong doesn’t make you an imposter. If you hold back, then you’re robbing your APCO network of what you’re capable of. That said, focus on providing value and be willing to face uncertainty. You’re not an imposter for trying something that might not work.

Where do you think the conversation is going next? What do you think is next for female entrepreneurs and women in the workplace? How might companies work with female entrepreneurs to help propel women forward?

*APCO client