In our pursuit of more women at the top, we still have a long way to go. Despite numerous studies showing that mixed teams perform better. In the world of startups and funders, we are also far from there. For example, over the past twelve years, some ninety percent of the growth money spent in the Netherlands went to startups with only men at the helm. Fundright wants to improve that situation, NOM wants to help.
A young woman in charge of a growing tech startup. You don't see it much. Too few. Margryt Fennema is one of those, she grew Reducept from Leeuwarden and is far from finished. The company now employs 23 men and women. Of course she is not growing alone, but still. Hats off to our investors, who believe in our company, but apparently also in me.
Because that's still special. Strange, in fact. Three years ago, Margryt Fennema and Louis Zantema started their company around applications that combat chronic pain using virtual reality. ,,When it came time for growth, they seriously discussed: which of us do we put forward as CEO? Who will do the talking? Do investors trust a young woman? We dared anyway. One of our five angel investors is a woman. I really think that helps. She provides a different perspective, sees other opportunities. That also reflects on the male investors, with whom, of course, I am just as happy.''
Diverse market, diverse makers
Three years and several prestigious awards later, Reducept is a company that can be called an example of diversity. Forty percent women, forty percent international. ,,That is deliberately unconscious. It's about the characteristics of people that should complement each other. If you are looking for the most diverse capabilities and talents possible, then it makes sense that your people should also be diverse.''
That is essential to the company's success, says Margryt Fennema. ,,We make solutions for different people with different pains. You can only do that well if the makers are also diverse. Our products go all over the world, so our people also come from all over the world. I think that is a maxim for any company that makes products for the market. Or it should be.''
That policy is not without risk. ''We always make an assessment of which types can work well together. But of course, we can always be wrong. Especially in the IT world, there is often still a specific, masculine atmosphere. We consciously did our own thing, set up the model the way we thought it should be done. That way you get unique, authentic features that are definitely based on diversity. Everyone builds and thinks with one goal in mind: to reduce chronic pains of as many people as possible. These different schools of thought and the special collaborations that arise in this way move us forward.''
Don't complain but act
The small percentage of female startups raising funding doesn't surprise her much. ''I think it's too easy to look only at the men. They certainly have a role to play though. They need to be more aware that they are looking at women with a certain eye. But I also think that as women you should not complain, but act. It is up to us to sell our qualities better. We have to make sure it's not about our gender, or our looks, but about what we can do.''
This is about breaking centuries-old images and roles. ''That doesn't happen overnight. Men and women both have to invest in it. An example? When we perform together, we are very nuanced about what we have to offer each other in the company and how we built it together. Yet in a joint interview, Louis is often pulled forward.''
Many men have quite a bit to learn when it comes to openly taking women seriously. We women must remain ourselves. Excessive feminine behavior does not help in breaking down prejudice. Going a little masculine doesn't help either. There is only one middle ground: just do it and let your quality speak for itself.''
TechLeap and 25 investment funds launched the movement Fundright in the summer of 2019. Their goal: to dramatically improve diversity within the startup ecosystem. Among other things, by looking more consciously at the gender distribution within the startups to which funding is provided. Meanwhile, all regional investment funds and lots of Venture Capitalists joined.