In light of recent news surrounding the dismal state of venture funding for women-owned businesses – a culture of bias and abuse – we decided to shed some light on the situation in a different way.
Simply put, the challenges that women are facing are not isolated to Silicon Valley and the tech world. In fact, traditional financing has failed Main Street business owners on a much larger scale. A report published by the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship highlighted an alarming statistic.
Only $1 in $23 in traditional small business loans go to women-owned businesses.
There are a whole host of challenges for female entrepreneurs to overcome that span across culture, access, mentorship and support. There are no simple solutions.
But, we believe that there is work that we can do and should do to be a part of the change.
Every day, our team at NextSeed gets the chance to interact with incredible business owners in one-on-one settings, talking about their journeys and hearing their stories. We absolutely love it. But, what really gets us going is when we get the chance to broadcast those stories to the passionate community that is all around us, weaving connections between individuals and business owners that strengthen those bonds.
To that end, on July 29th, NextSeed partnered with the entrepreneurial community of Houston to showcase female founders across the city. Gathering in Midway’s GreenStreet development in downtown Houston, the event started with a pop-up market where local designers, bakers, artists, and everyone in between could tell their stories, sell their work, and connect with other movers and shakers.
Guests sipped Bellini’s (courtesy of Korbel) while they browsed the booths.
Local artist Melissa Eason painted a mural that expressed the diversity, courage, and inspiration she found within these women. Guests got to experience the artistic process first-hand and chat with the artist while she crafted the piece.
At 5pm, guests were invited to the second floor of the Main Street Studio venue to enjoy cocktails provided by Gentleman Jack and beer from Eureka Heights Brewery, one of the only breweries in Houston with women owners. Tout Suite and Green Roots Kitchen, two exciting female-run food businesses, provided light bites for the guests to enjoy. Guests mingled with other local business owners, investors and influencers, taking in the views of downtown. As it neared 6pm, everyone was invited to take their seats and settle in for the feature presentation.
Jess Hughes, the founder of Citizen Pilates, took the stage as our MC for the night. She introduced the event and spoke about her own entrepreneurial journey to start and grow her studios. NextSeed’s CEO and Founder, Youngro Lee, took the stage and shared his thoughts on how debt crowdfunding can help fill the gap in funding for businesses.
We welcomed our panel of experts to the stage, and one at a time, our emerging entrepreneurs pitched their ideas. The panel listened to how these women had grown their businesses so far and their plans for the future. After their pitches, the panel asked questions and provided invaluable advice to our presenters.
After the final pitch concluded, the audience took out their phones and cast their votes. The winner, Namu Shop, will receive a popup lease in GreenStreet from Midway, a legal package from LegalZoom, and a year of mentorship from the esteemed panel.
Flying in the face of the gap in resources, the growth of women-owned businesses is outpacing the rest of the population. Female entrepreneurship now accounts for 40% of new companies in the United States, and their contribution to job growth and local economic development is a driving force everywhere.
There is more that can be done. The team at NextSeed is committed to creating a level playing field for all, and we’re thankful to be part of this community of inspiring women, supportive mentors, and investors who believe in the importance of this change.
We had an incredible time putting this event together with the many collaborators and sponsors who shared this vision. There are voices that need to be heard and dreams that need to be shared. Many thanks to everyone who made this happen.
Special Thanks to our Panel of Experts
Ashley Rose, Sugar & Cloth
Cecilia Marquez, Saint Cloud
Thanks to our Sponsors
Thanks to our Pop Up Market Vendors
Accelerate Studio, All We Need Farms, Annex HTX, Arbonne, Awesome Bites, Bare Bakery, Brenda Grands, BOSS Food Co, Camellia Alise, Critty, Dainty Cakes, Edible Houston, Ellion, Essential Body Bar, Garbach, Green Roots Kitchen, HoneyChild’s Sweet Cream, LaLu’s Treasures, Marteana, Miradela, Namu Shop, Pomp and Circumstance, Pheramor, Raquel Ramirez, Revolucion, Sayra Vallejo, Shiner Pork, Sknvious, Stateline Designs, Tout Suite