Female Founders: "We don’t always realise how amazing we are"
Barclays High Growth and Entrepreneurs Team played host to some of the most exciting figures in business with the Female Founders Forum at the bank’s FinTech co-working space, Rise London. Attendees took part in a roundtable event, discussing leadership, competing in the boardroom and the importance of company culture
“I think there is a lot of negativity around female entrepreneurs in the media. We wanted to create something positive where female founders could network and offer advice to others.”
There was a feeling of excitement in the room as Sophie Jarvis, Head of the Female Founders Forum, discussed the motivation behind the event.
“It’s fun, we always get an interesting crowd here,” she continued. “And men are very welcome too, that’s very important.”
The Female Founders Forum – a joint project between Barclays and The Entrepreneurs Network – is a quarterly roundtable event bringing together leading businesswomen and investors to network and share advice.
Juliet Rogan, Head of High Growth and Entrepreneurs at Barclays, said: “Innovation is driven by diversity, and supporting Female Founders, at events like this, is key to that.”
As attendees entered the room at Rise London – Barclays’ tech hub situated in the heart of Shoreditch, east London – there was a sense of comradeship amongst the day’s speakers.
“It’s so important to meet like-minded women,” said Magdalena Krön, Head of Rise London and Founder of Geek Girl Meetup UK. “It’s an opportunity to ask questions, and make connections with people who could help you in the future. Mentorship doesn’t have to be with someone many levels above you, peer to peer is equally as important.”
I simply told them to accept my offer or I’d walk away
The roundtable was attended by leaders from a range of businesses – from online dating to augmented technology – and started with a discussion on the obstacles women in business often face when pitching.
Katie Marrache, General Partner at JamJar investments – a venture capital investment fund – offered advice to CEOs pitching for finance. “It’s important to show you have a really good team dynamic. We invest in teams, not individuals. I don’t believe that having a dictatorial style works in business.”
The discussion moved onto confidence at a boardroom level, something which all attendees agreed was integral for women in leadership positions.
“I sold my business to private equity about a year ago,” said Cecile Reinaud, Founder and CEO of international fashion label Séraphine. “I was a female CEO negotiating with an all-male group. I simply told them to accept my offer or I’d walk away, and they did. I think they respected me for that.”
Devika Wood – who co-founded home-carer supplier Vida – agreed, sharing her own experience. When pitching for investment, Devika was offered what she believed to be a poor deal, but managed to renegotiate in challenging circumstances. “That was when I realised my own value,” she said. “I think as women in business we can be really self-deprecating and not always realise how amazing we are. We need to teach young entrepreneurs the skills to hold their own at boardroom level.”
If you don’t hire the right people then what you get is a blame culture
The group also discussed the importance of having strong business values, and the impact that can have on a company as a whole.
Katie, whose company funds the Innocent founders, reflected on how the smoothie brand created its company culture. “I actually think people use Innocent as a soundboard on culture, because it was so strong. They did that by making their values so visible. They had them at the start and end of every presentation, they were in every meeting room and they had awards for staff who epitomised them. You need that constant reinforcement.”
Helen Shaw, Co-Managing Director at pharmaceutical company Proveca, agreed – adding that companies need to embed their values in the recruitment process. “It’s fundamental when hiring. We don’t take ourselves too seriously and we want our employees to have fun, it’s important in a high-pressured environment.
“If you don’t hire the right people then what you get is a blame culture, and a workplace where people are scared to make decisions.”
Creating role models
As the event came to an end, the attendees networked and shared contact details, eager to make new connections with like-minded entrepreneurs and potential mentors.
“Today is about creating role models,” Magdalena concluded. “It’s great to see who people are, learn what they have achieved and ultimately see how they did it. Knowing all that, makes it easier to do it yourself.”
For further information about Barclays’ High Growth and Entrepreneurs offering, please visit barclays.co.uk/business-banking/sectors/entrepreneurs/.