Parallel Paths, Unique Challenges

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Parallel Paths, Unique Challenges

Pages:26 pages43 min read

Author: Beth A. Robertson, Lauren Florko, Susan Black


This impact paper, part of the Women-Led Ventures series, explores men and women’s experiences as Canadian technology entrepreneurs moving from start-up to scale-up. Their unique challenges are discussed, and recommendations are put forth for venture capitalists and entrepreneurs.

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Women technology entrepreneurs travel longer routes from start-up to scale-up. For example, compared with the men in our study, women reported doing more funding pitches than men and taking longer to raise their Series A financing.

Women were more likely to initially self-fund their businesses while men were more likely to rely on angel investors, friends, and family.

While growing a business from an idea to a multi-million-dollar enterprise is an arduous challenge for both men and women, women identified a number of unique challenges and explicitly articulated the need for entrepreneurs to have “grit” and “resilience.”

When pitching their business to venture capitalists, women emphasized their business’s financial sustainability while men emphasized their business’s growth potential.

Men founders reported being approached regularly by venture capital firms interested in investing in their business, while women founders reported little proactive outreach from venture capital firms.

Women entrepreneurs’ leadership style is highly people-focused with a strong emphasis on integrating organizational values into the fabric of their organizations and creating inclusive environments.


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