As Sheryl Sandberg stepped down from Meta, she left an important message for future generations – “In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.”
From successfully building billion-dollar businesses to B2B start-ups and DeepTech start-ups, women founders are blazing a trail in the Indian ecosystem. However, multiple stereotypical myths and biases exist, about the women’s capabilities to found and run tech start-ups and sustain their growth. Despite evidence to the contrary, these socio-cultural barriers persist, hindering women’s progression in the Indian start-up ecosystem.
“Creating 10X Women Founders in India” is a joint study by TiE Delhi-NCR, Zinnov, Google, NetApp, and IAN. In this study, we identify the primary obstacles that women and women founders encounter in their entrepreneurial journey, and highlight the necessary steps that all ecosystem stakeholders must take to encourage more women and girls to start up in India.
Despite such metrics underscoring women founders’ capabilities to build and scale start-ups, they face myriad challenges to actually give wings to their entrepreneurial dreams. One of the biggest factors that women founders face is the time taken by women-led start-ups to raise Series A because they wait longer to achieve concrete business metrics to investors. Compare this to their male counterparts who are confident to present figures of potentials to raise funding. Another big disparity is in the funding received by women founders, which is far less than those of male-founded start-ups. There exists an 8% difference in the amount of funding received.
Due to biases, and socio-cultural barriers, there is a grave underrepresentation of women in technology and business domains. A lack of women at this level reduces the odds of women going on to start up companies.
Interestingly, however, through primary interviews and discussions with investors in the ecosystem, the study presents first-hand opinions that no difference is seen, in start-up success based on the gender of the founder. In essence, women-founded start-ups are at equal odds (if not more so) of succeeding as those founded by their male counterparts.
In spite of the entrepreneurial intent established at 76%, making more women turn to entrepreneurship with viable business models remains a struggle. Turning this intent into action is what the aim of this study is. Analyzing the contributing factors to lower representation, this study puts forth strategies and frameworks to cultivate a more diverse and inclusive ecosystem, to achieve true equity. The onus falls on the existing ecosystem to become more inclusive, accepting, and encouraging.