Female Founders Edinburgh: promoting ‘persistence and resilience’
The Barclays-backed Female Founders Forum brings together some of the UK’s most inspirational businesswomen to promote female entrepreneurship. In the third year of the project, we sat in on a roundtable event in Edinburgh where members grappled with the relationship between women’s leadership styles – and a company’s ability to access finance.
Claudia Freigang is not your average CEO. Originally an auditory neuroscientist, Freigang – with her partner and co-founder Colin – founded tech start-up Hearing Diagnostics in 2017 to tackle the global prevalence of unmanaged hearing loss.
Freigang was one of two dozen women to attend the latest Female Founders Forum in Edinburgh – a partnership between The Entrepreneurs Network (TEN) and Barclays. The Forum is designed to bring together women in enterprise from across the country to network and propose solutions to the obstacles facing women in the business world.
Discussing the barriers facing women launching their own businesses, Freigang said “accessing finance is one of the biggest challenges in the health tech space”. Another attendee, Fiona Houston from Mara Seaweed, agreed, saying women “must have the confidence to be persistent and resilient” to access finance and scale-up their businesses.
According to Barclays’ Head of High Growth and Entrepreneurs, Juliet Rogan, who attended this event in Edinburgh, one way to ensure greater diversity within venture capital teams was to “encourage female entrepreneurs and successful business women to be angel investors as well. This will lead to more diversity in the funding market long-term”.
She continued: “The great thing about facilitating these events is the networks that can flourish as a result of them, where the entrepreneurs we bring together can lean on each other for support and encouragement on an ongoing basis!”
To counteract the subconscious bias found in traditional boardrooms, Julie Wilson, Co-Founder of the baby care company Cheeky Chompers decided to “take control of the fundraising process” by looking to Crowdcube – the British-based crowdfunding platform.
She said: “Crowdfunding is an exciting journey and we’ve reached around 44% of our fundraising target.” Her advice to any fledgling founder wanting to access finance is to “make sure you have a really clear pitch, know why you are seeking investment, what you’re going to do with the money and how you are going to grow as a business”.
Creating networks for women
Rogan said the Female Founders partnership was an important way for the bank to continue to support Britain’s most promising businesswomen as part of its Backing the UK plan.
The Female Founders Forum is all about “creating networks for women – connecting some of the UK’s most inspirational, successful female entrepreneurs with aspiring entrepreneurs,” she said.
July’s event follows others held around the UK, including ‘speed networking’ and roundtable events in London, and others in Cambridge, Bristol and Manchester. Subjects tackled have included the importance of mentorship, networks and role models as well as advice on pitching and confidence building.
“Events like this are hugely useful for us to find out the challenges and opportunities facing female founders across the country,” said Rogan. “Supporting female entrepreneurs is not just about increasing the number of women-owned businesses. It is about raising their performance and growth potential. We’re already looking forward to the next event in September!”