Here’s Birchbox Co-Founder’s Advice to Other Female Startup Founders

Nov 30, 2016

According to Hayley Barna, who co-founded the beauty box subscription service Birchbox and is now a venture capitalist, female founders would benefit from focusing less on the practical when pitching investors.

"Sometimes female founders are frankly too practical," Barna said on Tuesday at Fortune's Most Powerful Women Next Gen conference in Laguna Nigel, Calif.

"But don’t forget to sell the dream," she added, using a common Silicon Valley term for the inspirational presentations startup founders strive to deliver when presenting in front of investors.

As Fortune regularly reports, there's still a severe lack of diversity in Silicon Valley across all categories—from employees to startup founders to investors. According to data Fortune compiled in April, less than 6% of decision-makers at top U.S. VC firms are women. Last year, Pitchbook found that startups with at least one female founder accounted for less than 10% of those that have raised funding since 2005. And yet, one VC firm found last year that female startup founders outperform their male peers. Not surprisingly, Barna is now a partner at that same VC firm, First Round Capital.

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So how can female entrepreneurs maximize their chances of convincing investors to write them a check?

"Start with how the world is going to be different five years from now because your business exists, and then back it up with the really detailed, awesome plans for what you're gonna do next," she advises.

And if they can communicate both of these elements to investors, they'll be in a much better position than many of the male entrepreneurs who, according to Barna, "walk in saying they’re gonna start the next Facebook and they can’t even back it up."

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