Dear Female Founder: Letters to Women Entrepreneurs
Now Li Lu, the only child of Chinese parents, who at 28 quit her corporate job in order to become an entrepreneur, has just published a book on just how to build an empire—as a female entrepreneur.
Dear Female Founder is an anthology of letters of encouragement from 66 women entrepreneurs who have generated combined revenue of more than $1 billion and created over 2000 jobs. The book was edited and self-published by Lu Li, who is also CEO of Blooming Founders, a consultancy that offers support to start-ups and networking for female entrepreneurs. Serial entrepreneur, creative innovator and pragmatic optimist, Lu Li is obsessed about inspiring, educating and championing other women to build sustainable businesses in order to achieve freedom and fulfilment in their professional lives.
A vast spectrum of services
Successful businesswomen have contributed in real economic terms to creating value by thinking creatively when establishing businesses. They identified gaps and filled in niche areas. The spectrum of services represented by these extraordinary women is boundless: technology, finance, crowd funding, fund raising, venture capital, pre-seed and seed stage tech start-ups, bitcoin, design, online retail, cosmetics, e-books, jewellery, luxury brands, job portals, health food, storytelling, social issues, biotechnology, and more. Sometimes these entrepreneurs, such as Lisa Goodchild, have married more than one interest in order to develop a uniquely valuable product. Founder and CEO of Digiwoo, an integrated communications company; she is making waves in far-reaching arenas, from fashion and food to online advertising and non-profits.
It is difficult to offer a few examples without making a laundry list of the contributors. But here is a mere sample of the tremendous woman power featured in the book: Danae Ringelmann, founder of global crowd-funding and fundraising website, Indiegogo, with the intention of democratizing fundraising, Anna Ravanona, a passionate women’s advocate who co-founded Global Invest Her, focused on getting early-stage women entrepreneurs investor-ready and funded faster, Alexandra Gamarra, founder and CEO of Usetime, a cloud-based application that contributes to increased business productivity, allowing companies to better manage remote projects and facilitate the implementation of telework schemes, Jude Ower, CEO of PlayMob, creating the world's first platform profitably connecting game mechanics to social good or Katarina Rantanen, an entrepreneur who believes in purpose-driven businesses that put mission and social purpose first. Rantanen founded CosmEthics; a company that helps consumers make healthier cosmetic choices through a free application that reads product barcodes. Kinga Jentetics is the CEO and co-founder of PublishDrive, a software company that helps digital publishers increase their e-book sales globally by distributing them to Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Barnes & Noble and Kobo and others, in 72 countries, including. Irra Ariella Khi, obsessed with cyber security and data privacy, co-founded and is the CEO of VChain, a deep tech company that is developing a patent-pending block chain solution to reinvent verification, privacy and trust.
The depth of the advice offered by these women is astounding. The recurring mantra is to be strong mentally, but also physically and spiritually. Do what you always intended to do even without a well-defined strategy, recognize your limitations, collaborate and maintain a balanced life. Every single contributor stresses the importance of having a co-founder rather than establishing a business on one’s own. The existence of deep-scarred systemic issues such as sexism, violence, exclusion and gender bias in the corporate world is acknowledged, but it can be overcome. (Curiously, some women feel that there is no figurative glass ceiling except the limitations that exist in one’s mind.)
Some other pearls of wisdom to pay heed to are to be kind, generous, honest, ethical, and focussed. Keep business ideas simple, build trust and ask for help when necessary. Significantly, they firmly believe in listening to your gut since anything is possible. Although Dear Female Founder is crafted for women, the authors write that being a male founder is equally difficult, and any parameters based on gender and race are irrelevant since you are first and foremost an entrepreneur.
Lu Li’s compilation of letters is an inspiring testament and a powerful manifesto for women entrepreneurs. It brilliantly recognizes the limitations of a working woman, particularly in a society which continues to exist on a patriarchal framework. It is distilled wisdom combining hundred years of experience in business and entrepreneurship passed on as generously as you would expect mothers and mentors to share with the next generation they nurture.
"We need more women-led businesses with $10-100 million revenues and we need more women- led unicorns. We (women) are the biggest market in the world (bigger than India and China together). We control more than 80% of purchase decisions and will control most wealth in the coming years. It’s time to show our true worth to the world. Everyone will benefit, because we tend to build companies that impact our families, communities, and countries on a wider scale.
"Let’s amplify that. Join the club!"
– Anne Ravanona, Founder and CEO of Global Invest Her