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In a biased business environment, female-focused accelerators are key

Today, more than ever, it is important to focus on how we can support, foster, and utilize the skills that are inherent to all women. This is especially eminent in the business world, as women add great value to entrepreneurship in Maine. There is a proven correlation between company profitability and women in power. In fact, companies with a female founder performed 63% better than investments given to all-male founding teams. This is because feminine traits can make women better communicators and are more likely to avoid egocentric decision-making patterns. Despite this, in 2016, less than 3% of all VC money went to female founded companies (and this is a notable improvement from a decade ago) and female founded companies were 16 times less likely to get any funding from VC’s. Additionally, only 10% of startups which raised Series A last year had any female founders and less than 3% of venture-funded companies have a women CEO. What’s more, only 6% of VCs were women in 2013, down from 10% in 1999, according to Babson College.

Females have significantly larger challenges ahead of them while trying to gain capital to start their businesses, and addressing the limited opportunities they have access to compared to their male counterparts should be a top priority of both local and federal governments. This could be done by increasing funding to women business centers, targeting women-owned businesses to give capital through federal agencies such as the Small Business Association and Treasury, and increasing opportunities for them to utilize federal contracts.

Another way to bolster women-owned businesses is through the use of business accelerators. Accelerators offer unique opportunities to startups through rapid and immersive educational sessions as they prepare to scale. Accelerators like Scratchpad attempt to take this idea a step further, filling an extensively underrepresented niche in the business world: female-owned enterprises. According to co-founder Lisa Liberatore: “We focused Scratchpad on female founders because we wanted to help the incredible companies started by women we see in Maine and across New England thrive and receive the support they need as they move to scale.”

The female entrepreneurs of Scratchpad: Anna Gorbunova (along with partner Evgeni Silinov), Dianna Pozdniakov, Heather Lux, and Katheryn Langelier started their businesses from nothing, and Scratchpad’s mission is to support them by helping scale their business through constant mentorship and focus. By building specific plans that help accomplish the objectives of each of our members, we hope to help them meet their goals in a way that fits their individual career aspirations and visions.

In working with the women of Herbal Revolution, Sofia Fima, True North Beauty, and Until Cars Fly, Scratchpad is able to experience firsthand the power and dedication of female business owners. They exemplify each of the characteristics listed above, and though each with their own strengths, backgrounds, and expertise, they are united by their drive to succeed in a biased business environment. By working in a collaborative environment, the Scratchpad companies are urged to work together to meet their individual targets, instead of battling against one another for mentors and resources. Though focused on their own businesses, Anna, Dianna, Heather, Kathi, and Evgeni form a vibrant coworking community; an environment centered around the mutual success of women.

Scratchpad endeavors to invest our time, resources, and respect in female business leaders, as we believe that it is the most profitable business decision we could make. As stated best by Melinda Gates: “if you gradually start to take action it won’t be long before you realize that investing in women is good for your mind, good for your soul, and good for your business.”

Scratchpad is actively working toward a world in which it becomes unnecessary by definition — in which young girls grow up imaging in themselves in any possible place in business, from the programmers’ bullpen to the C-suite. Until then, we will work tirelessly to propel women toward their dreams and feed their entrepreneurial spirits. We will not let any force weaken our resolve or our impact. In fact, those who are not in step with our mission only further fuel our passion.

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