“When I started 1-Page three years ago, 1 percent of venture capital went to women,” says Joanna Weidenmiller, CEO and co-founder of the recruiting startup, which screens applicants based on their responses to relevant challenges rather than resumes. While 30 percent of businesses in the U.S. are women-owned, they only account for 6 percent of U.S. employment, Weidenmiller adds. She believes this is due in part to lack of access to capital.
Weidenmiller took a practical approach to secure venture capital to fund her own startup, targeting her pitches to VCs who specialized in her field. “I knew you can’t waste your time talking with people who aren’t interested,” she says. 1-Page was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) in October of 2014 and the value of the company increased 600 percent in the first three months. “Going public was the best decision I ever made,” Weidenmiller says. She says she appreciates the commitment of investors with a longer-term view of her company’s return on investment than VCs.
Weidenmiller relishes the challenges she has overcome to build her business. She tells the story of a high-profile male founder who refused to meet with her when she was first starting her business — and how she recently acquired his company.
Here are some lessons Weidenmiller has gleaned from her three years running a tech startup that could be helpful for other women entrepreneurs in tech.
1. Let Struggle Build Your Entrepreneurial Muscles
Weidenmiller, who attended college on an athletic scholarship says, “If someone told me I was going to vomit at every practice, I would never have wanted to be a rower.” She went on to set records in the sport. “Adversity is the name of the game,” she says. “It’s part of the test to get there. Once you pass that test, the support is immense.” She adds, “Popularity and fame and wealth — it’s all fleeting…. When you put your head down and get the work done, that’s when you start making good decisions.”
2. Meet and Greet
Weidenmiller suggests that women start with old-fashioned shoe leather. “When I first moved here and I first started raising funding, I went to so many Meetups,” she says. “By going to the Meetups and going to events … you meet the people that matter.” She recommends tapping into the growing network of women entrepreneurs, including groups like Women 2.0 and Women Who Code. “The support system of women is really, really, really tight,” she says.
3. Don’t Go It Alone
“Find out what you’re not good at and find people who are good at it,” Weidenmiller counsels. “We are so good at multitasking, we think we can do it all or we think we can learn it all.” One thing women improve when they start a business, she says, is their ability to delegate. She adds, “Women need to understand that it’s OK not to be everybody. It’s OK to be the driver.”
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Think Big
“People follow success,” says Weidenmiller. She advises women tech entrepreneurs to be bold with their vision. “We just need more women to be given the right education and mentorship … because opportunity is out there,” she says. “Don’t be scared to say you’re going to be a billion-dollar company, if that’s what you want.”
Photo of Joanna Weidenmiller courtesy of 1-Page.com.