The Inaugural Female Founders Mentorship Newsletter

A quarterly newsletter on investing, operating, and fundraising for women in tech, VC, and startups

The Next Wave of Female-Led Unicorns | by Female Founders Fund ...

Welcome to the 1st issue of the quarterly newsletter for the female founders mentorship network! With this newsletter, I aim to 1) share content tailored to your interests, 2) fill the white space in mainstream content for women in tech, venture, and startups, and 3) create greater connectivity among female founders and their fellow founder, investor, and operator allies. 

I started this network to create a centralized database for female founders to connect with allies and for allies to connect with each other. In 2019, 2.8% of US venture funding went to female founders, an astonishingly low number but an all time high.

I believe we can and must do better. I hope this network will play a part in driving more equitable representation for women in tech through enabling and empowering women to uplift each other.

To make this newsletter easily navigable, I created separate sections for founders vs. operators vs. investors: scroll to the section most relevant for you!

Feedback? I would love to hear from you!

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Fundraising

Elpha Fundraising Guide

From over a dozen public posts on Elpha, I collected the best tactical advice in this fundraising guide here. From the ideal time to build relationships with investors to how to structure your deck to how to best verbally present your vision, get all your questions answered through this guide!  

As a founder, you should also get to know your investors and reference check them. Ask one of their struggling or failed companies how that investor treated them during their most challenging periods. How they behave through tough times is indicative of their true colors.

Example Pitch Decks 

I went through dozens of shareable pitch decks and am including my favorites below:

Mixpanel: clearly articulated problem and solution, differentiation, progress, and plan

Bliss: well presented thesis, solution, market, business model, roadmap, and team

Rippling: instead of a deck, Rippling used a memo to raise their recent Series A 

One thing I always recommend is writing a memo from the investor’s perspective; this helps you literally step into their shoes, format most effectively, and preempt questions

Investor Update Examples

Startups send monthly, quarterly, or annual email updates to their investors. Here are my favorite templates and examples:

Founder Collective: include TLDR, humanize it through including biggest wins & fears

Kima Ventures: a shortened version of the Founder Collective template

GitLab: explicitly linking the people/types of people you want intros to

I recommend adding an explicit Kudos section to give shoutouts to supporters/investors, which further incentivizes people to help and builds connectivity across your network 

Non-VC Funding Sources

VC is not the only way to get funding! Here are some other ways:

Bootstrap: searchable platform of 200+ financing options

Non-dilutive funding especially for students

Laundress’ founders were recently on How I Built This. They sold their company for $100 million without taking external funding. 

Indie VC’s founder was on Origins and shared more about their non-VC model of funding. 

Applying to accelerators? Here are guides from Founder Institute, w2.0, and Inc. I am also working with Almanac to create a guide for Y Combinator apps - stay tuned!

Did you build your company entirely without external funding? I would love to hear from you!

Operating

Operating Guides

I categorized every single public post on Elpha by tactical topic here. From finding co-founders to learning about new spaces to finding product market fit, get your questions answered through this guide

This past week, I published my 116th interview article. I have categorized them all here by similar tactical categories. 

I emailed 8 founders (across sectors, stages, and business models) for their tactical advice on 1) finding their first customers, 2) finding their hardest hires, and 3) deciding to scale. Here are their responses!

A few other guides I have come across:

Investing

VC Investor Guides

I interviewed dozens of investors through the Emerging VC Association. Here are the key takeaways on building relationships, cross-functional learnings, and supporting companies.

Modeling Templates

For those looking to learn more about VC modeling, here are some great resources!

Angel Investor Guides

For those looking to angel invest, The Council is an incredible group of female angel investors.

Afore has a great article interviewing several angels, and Elizabeth Yin shares her great advice from her 6x angel portfolio. 

Special Features

Gillian Morris, founder of Hitlist, on being a non-technical solo founder, bootstrapping her MVP, and growing her technical team

Stasha Rosen, manager at Zapier, on leading fully remote, global teams

Features on women in VC:

Hacking productivity: on how to optimize your schedule, hone your micro-habits, and learn most effectively to triple your productivity 

Building relationships: 1) share interesting articles and opportunities every time you see one, 2) involve people in your projects and events, 3) reach out to people with no agenda/just to congratulate them on an article or promotion

How to break into VC

How to fundraising and operate during COVID and updated here

Gillian O’Brien shared her learnings from building and shutting down Cherry

Recommended Reads

6 lessons I learned from Jane Austen

Li Jin’s newsletter on the passion economy and the future of consumer

TechCrunch’s List on the most active and engaged investors 

Siri Chilazi’s research on diversity and equity in venture capital and entrepreneurship

10 stats on the power of investing in women lead businesses

Do you have advice for overcoming imposter syndrome? I want to hear from you!

Diversity and Inclusion

Resources

Programs

Connecting

Interested in connecting with other women in this group? Fill out this 2-second form here so I can figure out the best format for those interested (opt in only and no pressure!). 

And here is the link to the form to join the mentorship network for anyone you know who may be interested :)

Do you want to write for future issues of the newsletter? Please reach out!