Catching the (investment) train to Paris: Female founders talking on the Eurostar

This week I was invited to join a panel discussion in Paris, organised by INSEAD, and hosted at leading incubator, Station F. I had the pleasure of accompanying leading VC founder Anya Navidski of Voulez Capital on the Eurostar ride from London. Once settled into our seats, chocolate croissant and a cup of tea in hand, we got down to business. As we sped towards Paris, I was fortunate to hear her firsthand perspective on female founder challenges and deal flow.

Over our discussion - and on the panel - disheartening numbers came up. Anya told me how last year the traditional VC industry invested only 2.2% of capital in female founders. From my own research I am aware that of the top 100 venture firms globally, just 7% of the partners are women.  (Source: The Entrepreneurs Network)

The speakers shared context in addressing these challenges. Yannick Oswald, Principal, Mangrove Capital, shared what he looks for when investing in founders. Anne Ravanona, Founder & CEO, Global Invest Her shared context around building female founder confidence and countering risk versus ambition when pitching. Throughout our discussion, many examples of female leadership arose, highlighting progress that has been made. As Anya Navidski from Voulez Capital shared: “I have been told many times by traditional VCs that the high quality, female-led deal flow is simply not there. We, the Voulez Tribe, are going to prove these people wrong.  One deal at a time.”

These messages deeply resonated with me. As a female co-founder and CEO, with a mixed gender founding team, KareInn is within the minority of startups who have successfully secured outside investment. We need to be honest that tackling a big problem often requires big capital, and when women don’t have a seat at the investment table, it’s hard to have a voice. If women set up startups at the same rate as men, there would be an extra 150,000 start-ups in the UK each year - and an additional impact of up to 180BN GBP in GDP by 2025 (Source).

It’s not just about women-led funding or female VCs - we can also consider the impact of women throughout our value chain. KareInn’s user-base and ultimate end customer are predominantly women. Nearly 90% of carers are female, and nearly 75% of care home residents are female. I am hopeful that I can bring my own experience to the table, and make sure these voices are heard from the ground up. Women share feedback on product, drive implementation, and deliver business results through our platform.

I have been lucky that the founding team, and ecosystem supporting us, respect and value the diversity of thought and experience that I bring to the table and provide me with the equal opportunity to make a difference. I hope through my position at KareInn I can help more women feel empowered to put themselves forward for the world’s big challenges. There’s a lot to solve out there.

Special thanks to Jo at SciApps who shared this opportunity with me.