Female Founder Collective's Rebecca Minkoff & Ali Koplar Wyatt, rush coming for female entrepreneurs
Joining me on the show today are two total boss women in business, Rebecca Minkoff and Ali Wyatt.
Rebecca and Ali teamed up a few years ago to create the Female Founder Collective. It’s a network of businesses led by women, supporting women with a mission to enable and empower female-owned and led businesses to positively impact communities, both socially and economically.
We’re talking about the challenges that women face in the corporate world and in entrepreneurship at the moment and what we need to do to tackle these big issues and their recent virtual summit with incredible female founders like Jessica Alba and Bea Dixon teaching hard skills and soft skills for all women in business - which side note you should totally check out asap as it’s available to access until the end of this month and I’ve linked it below in the show notes.
I’ve long admired both of these women and was especially excited to speak with them given we have similar synergies in our missions to empower the female entrepreneurs who are solving global issues right now so I hope you love this episode as much as I did recording it!
Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
Well, Rebecca Minkoff, founder of Rebecca Minkoff and co-founder of The Female Founder Collective
So Rebecca Minkoff is a lifestyle and accessories company really built with the idea of outfitting the modern woman where available everywhere.
So hopefully you've heard of us. If not, I got more work to do. And we found our collective was really started with the idea of being frustrated at the wage gap conversation, being frustrated at seeing the same familiar faces as the only women leaders showcase as examples whether it was on magazine covers or panels or a part of certain lists, and knowing that in the United States alone, there's over 13 million female founded businesses.
And so what if we could provide, as an organization, a community, a recognizable CEO that one could shop by and education to really bridge the gap from passion to their business and was lucky enough to find it while Ali found me? I didn't find her. We had met a few months prior, but Ali reached out and we've been building the business. And Ali has really ushered in a new era of what it means to educate a woman and to give her power in her knowledge. So do you want to add?
Sure, yeah. And I come from a long line of startups where companies like Refinery twenty nine. I was their first non founding employee. So employee number five, I believe it was. And we were in a basement and took that journey with them, grew the business to do quite a bit of revenue. And then I left to do it again with goup and joined Gwyneth Paltrow when she brought the business from London to Los Angeles and sort of created a differentiated model. At that point, media was already sort of being challenged by programmatic. And then I got moved back with my husband from Los Angeles to New York, again, where I was formerly. And and so I had to leave and I started consulting for a lot of female founded businesses at that point. And it got me really excited about what women can do and how impressive women are as founders. They really plot out what their existence is going to look like years ahead. They're incredibly thoughtful about planning their more conservative, it feels like, than than men are men. Sort of. Leap and then look, whereas women make sure that they look before they leave, but they also really have a game plan in place for how they're going to succeed as a business.
So I got really excited about female founders as a consultant, but also as an investor. I started angel investing in a number of different businesses, came across Sophia Amoroso and she had Girl Boss, which was the amazing book that she had written about being an empowered female and really determining what your future could look like and ultimately partnered up with her to launch that as a business. And then when I left that in twenty eighteen, twenty eighteen, I reached out to Rebecca because she had started female founder collective and really the core of of girl. One of the biggest issues that I saw was the lack of attention and education and capital for female founders. So we partnered up and set out to see what we could do to support them, providing a platform for education, for resources and for really specified connections around how founders can help each other see around roadblocks and hurdles and ultimately find success.
Sounds like the ultimate dream team to me. So cool. I love I love all of that.
I'm interested to know what it actually means to be part of the collective, like who can access it? What do you actually get once you get in? You know, do you have to pay to be in it? How many women are in it? Kind of that. More like inside once you're inside. What's going on?
You know, it's a really great question, because we've only discovered recently, because when you are in it, there's so much happening, but a lot of people don't know what all female founder collective includes. Basically, the membership today looks like you have a community group which lives on Slack and on Google Groups. We have a number of pieces of education that we roll out somewhat, to be honest, inconsistently. And we've been doing events in those events. And the programming that we do is very educational in nature. We want people to be able to come to us and be able to walk away with a new skill set, whether it's around building a customer acquisition model to figuring out how to fundraise. So the future of FFC, while it's free right now, is we're going to be providing more consistently those tools, better connections through platforms. So being able to reach out to a founder who is perhaps one step ahead of you, similar stage, who is maybe a similar geography that's important to you, because in a similar industry, who can help you figure out everything from writing an independent contractor agreement to maybe working with a factory internationally, finding the right one and writing the right contract, they're really helping them find the tools that they're going to need without sort of going in blind. The other piece is from a programming perspective, we're going to have a cadence of programming that you're going to be able to expect every single week around the pain points that we're seeing within the community itself. So as people are talking about, they are looking for more opportunities to do social media partnerships. It's how do you set those up? What is what is good look like? And so providing education around that sort of thing. So future will be paid.
Sounds so amazing. I bet you were really happy, Rebecca, when when Ali came into the picture and joined you, how did it actually come about? Was it just like a cold outreach email?
So we had met a long, long time ago, which Ali had to remind me of when I was pregnant and didn't have a brain cell left to remember a new face with my second daughter.
So that was six years ago. And then we reconnected at Cannes over this glorious lunch on the beach. And I knew she was a girl boss. But we would talk about her all the time at my office, like what they're doing, how they're doing it.
And then in November of twenty eighteen, I saw her email and I was like, oh my God, it's the woman I talk about all the time.
And so I felt like our first call, I was really nervous. I was like pacing in the hotel room as we spoke like how do I get this woman to want to work with me? But she already did want to work with me. So we've been working together since November of twenty eighteen and it's really formalize what FFC was. I started it with a passion, with a rough infrastructure and an excited community, and that was kind of it. So everything we've built since then has really been under Ali's leadership and guidance.
Oh, amazing how sweet and I have to say, I saw Rebecca on the floor of a bathroom and can like and the most unsexy, unglamorous area just sitting there pumping. And I knew that she had her baby with her there. And I was so impressed. She had literally just come from doing this big panel. And I was like, this is a woman that I want to work with. Like, she is who I want to be. She has three kids. She is overseas. She brought her kid with her. Nothing stopping her. And I was just so impressed that she was she was living the modern.
Sort of mom, businesswoman life that I think so many of us feel like can't be for us, but actually can be.
Yeah, like the poster woman of what we strive to be as a modern professional mom. I love that. That's so completely. What do you think the biggest challenge is for female founders at the moment and especially during the pandemic and what's been happening in 20, 20?
How long do you want this podcast to be?
Talk as much as you want. I love to chat.
I think that there is a lot of talk about women taking on the lion's share of the work at home and so women leaving the workforce, I think I read that there's been almost nine hundred thousand women that have left the workforce since the pandemic started. What I'm hoping is that you're going to see an entrepreneurial boom from this of women saying corporate America isn't helping me. They're not talking to me. They're not supporting me effort. I'm going to sell I'm going to solve my own issues. I'm going to start my own business. And so we know that women have incredible success rates with launching companies and exiting them. And so I'm hoping that this just creates the next gold rush for female founded brands.
Mean totally, you know what I don't really understand at the moment, there's so much conversation and it might just be because I hear it and it's happening a lot, these conversations because of the women that I speak to. But we know that women produce great results. We know what the impact of women led businesses is on the world. Data shows that for every dollar invested in a female led business, it generates twice the return as every dollar invested in a male led business. But how come things don't seem to be changing? And like, what are we going to do?
Because it feels like that conversation is really out there now and we know this stuff, but it feels like it's not changing.
Or is it?
You know, what I think is interesting is right now we're seeing extremes happen of old sort of ingrained systems that have been part of our our lives since we were born and significantly before we were born. So from a patriarchy standpoint, we're seeing that play out in politics in the biggest possible way. Right. And so it feels a little bit like we're going backwards. But I do believe that it gets worse before it gets better. And you almost have to come to this breaking point. And I think the pandemic represents that breaking point. I think where we are politically represents that breaking point where. It's like we're going to the bottom before we can go back up, and I think that has just sort of happened across the board for better or for worse. And so that's. I think we just need to be in position to be in position. I think about that all the time in my life where we're going to come out of this and there's going to be another side. We have to be prepared to do big things as women, especially with the other side. What is good look like after this? What is what is the world that we want? If there is no patriarchy and there is no racism, what does that actually look like? So I think that's what we're going to be called upon to figure out very soon. Even though it doesn't feel like it.
What do you want it to look like? What do you think it could be like?
I mean, it's a big question, but in thinking about that, I think it's not about male or female. I think it's it's about having more of the balance, right. The best teams have both. The best teams have many more different types of backgrounds and races. And I think there does need to be some sort of prerogative on corporations. And to basically from a diversity inclusion standpoint, you have to put a number out there like California has done for boards and women, you have to have women on boards. That's amazing. It needs to be a necessity or else it's just not going to happen. Nobody is going to feel forced to do it. I think from a from a standpoint of. What does it look like for women? I think we also need a serious reallocation of funding from an entrepreneur and founder standpoint, but I think from a women and corporations standpoint, there needs to be a serious redoing of the entire system of what parental leave looks like, of what supporting mothers looks like in the workforce, because otherwise there's not going to be any moms left and they're going to go and they're going to use their talents elsewhere. It's not that they're just going to completely exit the workforce, although right now there are sort of being forced to. But I think that you're it needs to be reframed, rethought. And I think that that looks like, you know, both parents should have leave and the men should be forced to take it because otherwise the burden falls on moms that when they have the baby, their husband has to go back to work. And so they don't have a partner at home to go through the toughest time of their existence so far.
Or what I believe to be totally and I've also heard from from dads like new new dads that they actually want to be at home, too. They want to be with their kids and they want to be with their wife during this time because it's such a precious time of their lives. But they don't have access sometimes to that same. This also, I guess, the stigma around just going back to work and the guy should go back to work kind of thing.
But yeah, I think lifestyle design for women in particular is so important to be able to have flexibility when we have babies and to be able to be the leader that we want to be and be in careers that we want to, not working potentially the way that corporate businesses do operate now. Absolutely.
I think there has to be a seismic shift in how corporations embrace this on both sides, the empathy and sort of the retraining of men to be able to take that paternity leave to leave for the soccer practice they want to coach or the rehearsal or come in late because they had the bottle feedings while their wife slept or you know what I mean? There has to be a corporate responsibility to sort of make that OK. And then an even more more shift within corporate America that it should be.
You're back from maternity leave. And Ali and I talk about this all the time. And it's like, when do you need to pump here is not a bathroom or a closet.
Here's a room. You can take a camera up. You could be part of the meeting from neck up if you want or, hey, we'll do the meeting around your pumping schedule like there needs to be a four or whatever it is you haven't slept.
Here's a support group.
There's just there's so much work to be done to help but have it feel more equal and have women not flee the workplace because you just raise a certain point as a woman and you're like, screw it.
It's not worth it.
Mhm, totally, yeah, and and I guess there's also so much beauty that comes from that because women are like, I can't be involved in that corporate lifestyle, I'm forced to go and create my own magic. You know, I'm forced to go and create my own dreams, which obviously leads to so many amazing businesses, female founded businesses. But you said something a moment ago about the reallocation of funds and especially when it comes to venture capital.
How can we get that reallocation of funds and is that something that female found a collective is helping the entrepreneur? Is that a part of your network connect with investors and things like that?
Yeah, we're doing it on an informal basis right now, where we see an amazing founder solving a problem that we know a fund is specifically looking at to invest in. And so we try to match make on that front, but we're trying to formalize it in a more sort of systematized manner and make it so that there's a constant flow of female founded businesses that we're proactively sharing with these funds who very, very much matches their investment strategy, because I think. Some of it is deal flow issue, I do think a lot of it, it's sort of the questions and the expectations for female founders does seem a bit different. But I also think there is an element of this, and this might sound a little controversial, where women's own confidence is getting in the way of their funding opportunity. I witnessed it myself when we were going out and fundraising for the last company I was part of. We got pulled aside by one of the female partners on the Investment Committee committee and she said, you have to be more bold and sort of bullish when you're presenting. And she's like, you don't you guys don't sound confident enough. It doesn't seem like this is going to be a big enough business.
You seem that you are defending your numbers as opposed to having it be more affirmative, whereas a man will go in. And there was there was actually another investor who said that they inherently give. Men's estimates, a 30 percent haircut. As far as what they think, the expectation, the growth expectations will be, whereas with women, we have to increase it 30 percent because they always do much better than they say they're going to do. So women have a tendency to sort of underestimate what they're capable of, whereas men overestimate what they're capable of. So there's this confidence gap. And I do think one of the fundamental things we did an accelerator earlier this year and one of the fundamental things that we discovered that we needed to teach was confidence. And