Category: Business

From Mindf*ck to Mindful: Pioneers, Pitfalls, and the Path Forward for AI

Drawing from the revelations in the Rolling Stone article, it’s evident that the concerns of AI experts have long been echoing in the corridors of tech. Yet, as our exploration suggests, there’s a pressing need to move beyond mere acknowledgment. We must actively integrate these insights into the very fabric of AI development and innovation, ensuring a future where technology is both groundbreaking and grounded in ethics.

🔍 Beyond Silicon Valley’s Echo Chamber: The Critical Insights of AI Experts

In the tech realm, Silicon Valley stands as a beacon of innovation. Yet, the rapid advancements often overshadow the ethical dilemmas they bring. Christopher Wylie’s “Mindf*ck” exposes the sinister side of big tech, revealing the weaponization of data for political manipulation. Experts like Timnit Gebru and Joy Buolamwini have been pivotal in highlighting the lurking dangers in AI and big tech.

🚫 Silicon Valley’s Ethical Oversights

The relentless drive for innovation has led to a myriad of ethical issues. From data breaches to AI biases, the consequences of unchecked development are becoming increasingly evident.

📘 Lessons from “Mindf*ck

Wylie’s revelations include alarming instances like Cambridge Analytica’s unauthorised data harvesting from millions of Facebook users. This data was weaponised to craft targeted political ads, spreading misleading stories, such as false claims about the Pope endorsing Trump or deceptive narratives about the Clinton Foundation.

Timnit Gebru in 2018

🔬 Leading AI Experts Raise the Alarm

Subject matter experts like Gebru and Buolamwini have consistently spotlighted the biases in AI systems and their potential repercussions, especially on marginalised groups.

💰 The Investment Imbalance in AI

The tech sector’s enthusiasm for AI is evident in the vast capital directed towards AI projects.

Global AI private investment in AI was $91.9 billion in 2022, 18 times greater than it was in 2013.

However, there’s a glaring disparity:

Profit-driven AI vs. Ethical AI

Mainstream AI projects, focused on quick profits and scalability, receive hefty investments. In contrast, projects centred on ethical AI and safety are often overlooked.

Immediate Profits vs. Sustainable Safety

The promise of quick returns often eclipses the essential focus on long-term safety and ethics.

The Price of Ignoring Ethics

Underfunding ethical AI research can result in systems that, while technologically advanced, are ethically flawed, perpetuating societal biases and infringing on individual rights. 

Google Photos’ Image Recognition

Description: In 2015, Google Photos’ image recognition algorithms were used to categorise and tag photos automatically.

Issues: The software mistakenly labelled African Americans as “gorillas.” This grave error highlighted the racial biases present in the AI’s training data.

Recall: Google apologised for the mistake and promised to fix the issue. Instead of improving the categorisation, Google decided to remove “gorilla” as a label entirely to prevent the software from making such a mistake in the future.

IBM, Microsoft, and Amazon’s Facial Recognition Technologies

Description: These tech giants developed facial recognition technologies that were sold to law enforcement agencies.

Issues: Studies, including one by MIT’s Joy Buolamwini, found that these technologies had higher error rates for darker-skinned and female faces. This bias could lead to wrongful arrests and perpetuate racial and gender biases in policing.

Recall: In 2020, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests and the concerns raised about the potential misuse of the technology, IBM announced it would no longer offer general-purpose facial recognition or analysis software. Amazon announced a one-year moratorium on police use of its facial recognition technology, Rekognition. Microsoft also declared it wouldn’t sell its facial recognition technology to police departments until federal regulations were in place.

Northpointe’s COMPAS (Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions

Description: COMPAS is a risk assessment tool used by U.S. courts to assess the likelihood of a defendant becoming a recidivist.

Issues: An investigation by ProPublica in 2016 found that the software was biased against Black defendants, who were more likely to be incorrectly judged as having a higher risk of reoffending compared to white defendants.

Recall: While COMPAS hasn’t been fully recalled, its use has become highly controversial, and its reliability and biases have been the subject of significant legal and academic scrutiny.

🔄 Time for a Shift in Perspective

The tech world needs to broaden its horizons. By valuing and integrating insights from a diverse range of experts, we can chart a path towards responsible and ethical tech development. It took us more than 4 years of negotiations and discussions for GDPR, once we realised we needed regulation, and even then Meta/Facebook was recently given a 1.2 Billion fine for breaching data transfer rules. We’ve seen a wake of harms from misuse of data & technology.

🔔 A Wake-Up Call for the Tech Industry

The revelations in “Mindf*ck” and the persistent efforts of AI experts serve as a clarion call. A holistic, ethical, and inclusive approach to AI and tech innovation isn’t just a recommendation—it’s a necessity.

🤔 The AI Leadership Paradox

It’s puzzling that those who pioneered AI advancements are now the ones cautioning about its dangers. Dubbed the AI Doomers, 350 individuals signed the document – with names like Open AI’s Sam Altman, ex-Google’s Geoffrey Hinton. Their warnings, while crucial, underscore a deeper issue:

Celebrating the Alarm-Raisers

These leaders are often praised for their ethical stance, but why weren’t these concerns addressed earlier?

Overlooking Diverse Expertise

Despite the warnings, the tech world often neglects voices from diverse backgrounds. The insights of experts with varied experiences are crucial for a comprehensive understanding of AI’s challenges.

The Risks of a Limited Perspective

Depending solely on a small group for AI development and critique can lead to significant oversights.

Central to the AI debate is a privileged group that has been steering its trajectory.  While the media and others extol their innovations, they simultaneously heed their warnings about AI’s potential societal risks. This poses the question, does this mean this privileged group is advocating for more resources and authority to address the very dangers they’ve brought to bare, while continuing to side line the long standing expert voices of AI ethicists?

🚀 Investing in Difference: How VC Funding Can Benefit from Rethinking Female 🚺 Social Norms 🚀

Did you know that gender-based societal norms can significantly impact an entrepreneur’s ability to secure venture capital (VC) funding?

🤔 Research has shown that biases against feminine-stereotyped behaviours affect both male and female founders, leading to unequal funding opportunities. But here’s the twist – it’s not about gender itself, as our vast network of over 225 VC Partners has demonstrated.

🔍 Dive deeper into the surprising insights and eye-opening statistics on gender bias in VC funding in our latest article! 👇

⛵ Discover how societal norms influence women’s behavior in the startup world, and how this can pose unique challenges for female founders when securing investments.

🚀 Learn about gender role theory and its impact on entrepreneurship, shedding light on the biases that entrepreneurs face in male-dominated fields.

🌟 But it’s not all gloom and doom! The article uncovers empowering strategies for VCs to challenge and mitigate gender bias in their decision-making processes. From embracing ‘win-win’ negotiation styles to recognizing diverse decision-making approaches, there are actionable steps to level the playing field for all founders.

⏳ Time is of the essence! Let’s work together to create a more equitable and inclusive startup ecosystem. 💪 Read the full article 👇now, like and share!


Gender-based societal norms often influence women’s behaviour, affecting their ability to secure venture capital (VC) funding. Biases against feminine-stereotyped behaviours also exist, impacting the funding received by both male and female entrepreneurs. However, it’s not gender itself that deters investor interest, as shown by our VC Partners network of over 225 members.

Research highlights the incongruity of VC funding decisions, revealing gender biases rather than meritocracy. This includes a New Zealand study which found that male-only founder teams, despite having the lowest returns, received the most funding. Women and men delivering the same pitches resulted in men being 60% more successful at securing investment.

At The200BnClub’s Accelerator Programme – beyond what a traditional Accelerator provides – we work to tackle these biases and equip female founders to effectively persuade VCs. To minimise gender bias, we also propose strategies that VCs can implement such as acknowledging the flaws in human decision-making, embracing ‘win-win’ negotiation, redefining risk perception, increasing visibility, recognising different decision-making styles, redesigning systems to mitigate biases, recording and evaluating pitches, reflecting on powerful women, exposing to counter-stereotypical examples, being transparent, and maintaining a feedback loop.

The shift in narrative is steady, with biases becoming more acknowledged, behaviours changing, and the benefits of diverse leadership gaining recognition. But with only 2.1% of US VC funding going to female founders in 2022, It’s imperative we intensify efforts to eradicate biases from decision-making processes for a brighter future for female founders and the start up ecosystem as a whole.

Investing in Diversity: How VC Funding Can Thrive by Embracing the Strength of Female Founders

Gender-based societal norms often shape women to express qualities such as humility, empathy, kindness and the inclination to foster relationships. While these qualities have numerous strengths, they can paradoxically present challenges in situations where expected negotiation and assertiveness styles are required, particularly in securing venture capital (VC) funding.

Family roles across societies often depict women as caregivers. In the UK, women are seven times more likely than men to leave their job to tend to caregiving commitments, emphasising the role of empathy, patience, and kindness. These norms are further reinforced in popular culture and education, with narratives like the ‘damsel in distress’ and the ‘angel in the house’ often depicting women as passive, modest, and selfless. Educational institutions frequently encourage girls to be agreeable and to conform to societal expectations (The Confidence Code: Kay K. & Shipman, 2018).

Societal norms and biases infiltrate professional environments, resulting in a twofold impact. On one hand, these biases can cause women to undervalue their accomplishments and hesitate in expressing their opinions compared to their male counterparts. On the other hand, even when women step forward, they are often still undervalued. As Linda Babcock illuminates in her groundbreaking book “Women Don’t Ask,” women and men are equally likely to ask for a raise, yet women typically receive 20% less. This striking disparity indicates the deep-seated gender bias that persists in professional contexts and we observe spilling over into the VC world.

Further research supports that due to stereotypical characteristics attributed to each gender, jobs and occupations that are dominated by men or women can become stereotyped as masculine or feminine (Eagly & Karau, 1991Heilman, 1983Muehlenhard & Peterson, 2011Wood, 1999). As a result, research applying gender role theory argues that success in male- and female-dominated occupations requires correspondingly gender stereotypical characteristics (Eagly, 1987Eagly & Karau, 1991Heilman, 1997). Extending this theory to entrepreneurship suggests that, because entrepreneurship is a “man’s world,” both men and women should display stereotypical masculine characteristics to garner more interest and support from resource providers like venture capitalists (Gupta, Turban, Wasti, & Sikdar, 2009.

Contrary to common belief, the study ‘Don’t Pitch Like a Girl’ shows that being a female entrepreneur doesn’t inherently reduce investor interest, as evidenced by our vast network of over 225 VC Partners. The study indicates that the bias isn’t against gender per se, but against feminine-stereotyped behaviours exhibited by entrepreneurs, regardless of their sex.

This bias is born out in many pieces of research, including the most recent research from

The Gender Investment Gap in New Zealand, which has startling statistics:

🔔 The group with the LOWEST returns receive the MOST funding – startups with male-only founder teams.

📣 With the SAME content, women and men pitched to a group of investors. Men were 60% more successful at receiving investment. With the SAME pitch.

🔉 Which demonstrates that venture capitalist don’t invest only on merit and that gender biases do come into account, and every pitch is not considered equally.

At The200BnClub’s Accelerator Programme, we have firsthand experience with how these societal norms pose challenges for our female founders. However, it’s crucial to not just focus on the hurdles but celebrate the unique strengths and successes of female entrepreneurs.

By doing so, VCs can make sure they’re not missing out on great investment opportunities. In New Zealand alone, this bias is estimated to cost VCs $32 Billion, while the UK is missing on over £200 Billion that can be generated by female led businesses if the UK invested in women at par with best in class countries. (Hence the name of our accelerator 😉).

This bias persists in spite of a study by Caliper in 2005 which revealed that contrary to ingrained norms and stereotypical characteristics attributed to each gender that:

“Women leaders tend to be more assertive, persuasive, willing to take risks and have a stronger need to get things done than their male counterparts” 

Their research discovered:

  • Women leaders are more persuasive than their male counterparts.
  • Feeling the sting of rejection, women leaders learn from adversity and carry on with an “I’ll show you” attitude.
  • Women leaders have an inclusive, team-building leadership style of problem solving and decision making.
  • Women leaders are more likely to ignore rules and take risks.

All qualities admired by VCs.

In the research titled: Don’t Pitch like a Girl, it found when entrepreneurs display stereotypically “feminine” behaviours during venture capital “elevator pitch competitions” they are less likely to be selected as finalists regardless of actual gender. 

Humility or agreeableness should not be misinterpreted as a lack of competence. VCs need to focus on the founders’ track record and potential. Throughout the cohorts we ran, we noticed that most women are muted about their previous achievements out of fear of sounding arrogant. Women founders must be vocal about their competence and achievements VCs cannot accurately assess them without clear and assertive communication.

In our accelerator program, we specifically address the unique challenges faced by female and other underrepresented founders. Beyond what a traditional accelerator offers in terms of fine tuning business models and access to funding, we equip them with strategies to effectively persuade VCs and navigate the pitching process. Limiting gender bias, particularly in high-stakes scenarios like venture capital pitches, involves a combination of awareness, proactive steps, and structural changes. Here are some strategies that VCs and founders can use to limit gender bias:

10 Ways to hack our brains so we can change and challenge perceived competence stereotypes

1. Recognise as humans our decision making is flawed

Contrary to traditional economic theory, which assumes individuals make choices independently, behavioural economists argue that decisions are largely influenced by one’s social context and networks. In fact, imitation of others’ behaviour is often an automatic response.

The World Bank Development Report (2015) attests to this, stating, “Individuals are not calculating automatons. Instead, they are malleable and emotional actors, influenced by contextual cues, social norms, shared mental models, and local social networks.”

This behavioural insight is crucial in understanding disparities in various sectors, including entrepreneurship. As we’ve already discussed the report “Don’t Pitch like a Girl” uncovers a bias against behaviours typically perceived as feminine, regardless of the gender of the individual displaying them. Meanwhile, the study in New Zealand reveals an ironic contradiction: the group with the lowest returns—startups with male-only founder teams—receive the most funding.

Further evidence comes from a 2017 study by Kanze, Huang, Conley, and Higgins. Their research brings to light a striking disparity in the questioning style of investors: 67% of questions posed to male entrepreneurs were promotion-oriented, while 66% of those asked of female entrepreneurs were prevention-oriented.

The implications of this bias are significant. The study found that founders subjected to prevention-oriented questions raised 7 times less funding. This underscores the profound effect of social context and biases on decision-making and outcomes, reinforcing the need to challenge and change these dynamics.

“For every additional prevention question asked of an entrepreneur, the startup raised a staggering $3.8 million less, on average.”

Together, these studies underscore the reality that VC investment decisions are not solely based on merit. Gender biases persistently factor into the evaluation process, meaning pitches aren’t always considered on an equal footing.

2. Embrace ‘Win-Win’ Negotiation

Women may not assert themselves the same way as men do due to societal conditioning (Babcock & Laschever, 2003). Instead women often employ a cooperative, ‘win-win’ negotiation strategy, seeking mutually beneficial outcomes that foster long-term relationships. Contrarily, men tend to use a competitive, ‘win-lose’ approach. The cooperative style often used by women lead to sustainable business partnerships, a valuable asset in the venture capital landscape.

2. Redefine Risk Perception

Women’s perceived humility or tendency to downplay their achievements compared to their male peers is often mistaken for a lack of ambition and therefore seen as a more risky investment. However, this humility can encourage realistic assessments of risks and opportunities, contributing to sustainable business growth. Bearing in mind venture capitalists typically approach financial projections in pitch decks with a healthy degree of scepticism, given that male entrepreneurs are naturally optimistic about their ventures and tend to provide high forecasts, female founders represent a more realistic approach. Remember that when it comes to forging a path less travelled, women leaders are more likely to ignore rules and take risks.

3. Increase Visibility: 

While societal norms might cause women to self-promote less aggressively, their emphasis on relationship-building often helps them establish strong networks of support. In a venture capital context, this can lead to enduring partnerships and collaborations. This can mean that female founders might not put themselves forward as readily as men, but VCs can counteract this by proactively reaching out to diverse networks and partnering with programs like The200BnClub to ensure they have a quality pipeline of female founders and mixed gendered teams.

4. Recognise Different Decision-Making Styles: 

A lot of the unconscious bias stems from stereotypical ideas of what male leadership traits look like and that they’re preferred and represent success over female leadership traits. The traits often associated with women, such as empathy and collaboration, can be tremendous assets. A 2022 McKinsey Global Institute report showed that companies with gender-diverse executive teams were 25% more likely to outperform in terms of profitability. 

Recognising that a variety of styles provide a variety of benefits when considering pitches is key. For example, if a founder has a consensus-driven approach, it can lead to slower decision-making, but it can also result in well-considered, team-backed decisions. Considering 18% of startups fail due to team problems and other human-resource-related issues, this is a valuable benefit.

VCs should appreciate diverse decision-making styles. 

Founders can dispel misconceptions by communicating the rationale behind their decision-making processes.

5. Powerful Women Reflection:

Before entering a pitch or making a decision, take a moment to reflect on powerful and successful women in the industry. This could help counteract any underlying biases by priming your mind with positive associations related to women and leadership. Remember that successful founders don’t all look the same, and often aren’t your stereotypical tech bro mould

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6. Redesign systems, processes and structures to mitigate biases:

Accepting the insights of behavioural economists—that our decision-making processes are often flawed—we must work towards designing systems that help us navigate and avoid unconscious bias. As Iris Bohnet elaborates in her book ‘What Works: Gender Equality by Design,’ the route to achieving gender equality is not about ‘fixing’ women but about transforming the systems and environments where decisions are made.

Current statistics make it clear that traditional methods, which typically involve urging women to alter their behaviour or providing them with additional resources, are not sufficient to effect enduring change. This is starkly illustrated in funding disparities: companies with all female-founding teams raised only 2.1%—around $800 million—of the estimated $37 billion invested in U.S. startups in Q1 2023, as reported by PitchBook. 

Instead, we advocate for redesigning systems, processes, and structures to mitigate the impact of unconscious biases and promote more equitable outcomes for everyone.

Venture capitalists often employ scorecards as structured evaluation tools to assess startup pitches and potential investments. These scorecards detail specific criteria and weightage, allowing VCs to rate pitches on facets like market opportunity, team expertise, revenue potential, scalability, traction, and more, thereby integrating both quantitative and qualitative data. Such a method is effective in mitigating bias to an extent. 

However, when VCs aggregate scores to compare startups, determine portfolio fit, and make informed investment decisions, their gut instincts and past experience inevitably influence their final choices. This is where we propose an upgrade: scorecards should be refined to ensure an equal number of preventive and promotive questions are asked of all founders, irrespective of their gender.”

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7. Counter Stereotype Exposure: 

Regularly expose yourself to counter-stereotypical examples in your industry, which can help challenge and change biased mental models over time.

8. Transparency: 

Be open about the decision-making process and criteria. Transparency can help keep everyone accountable and makes it easier to identify and address any biases that might be influencing decisions.

9. Record, transcribe and evaluate pitches:

Implement a system to record, transcribe, and evaluate each pitch. This process facilitates a direct comparison of the types of questions posed, the data presented, and the responses given by founders. By having a comprehensive written record of each pitch, decision-makers can examine them in detail, looking for patterns in questioning that may suggest bias. Furthermore, this also allows for an unbiased analysis of how founders respond to different types of questions and the quality of data provided in their pitches. Over time, this wealth of information can help pinpoint and rectify unconscious bias, ensuring a more equitable evaluation process.

10. Feedback Loop: 

Regularly review and refine the decision-making process. Look for patterns that might suggest gender bias, and seek feedback from others to ensure continuous improvement. 

Remember, bias is often unconscious and unintentional, but it can still have significant effects. Implementing strategies like these can help to reduce gender bias and make the decision-making process fairer and more equitable.

The narrative is steadily shifting as biases become more widely acknowledged, younger generations alter their behaviours, and the advantages of diverse leadership gain recognition. While numerous investors and organisations are actively working to support and fund female founders, appreciating their distinctive insights and contributions, we need to intensify our efforts to eradicate biases from our decision-making processes. This holds true across all genders. Only through such concerted efforts can we illuminate a bright future for female founders who dare to assert their presence and unapologetically celebrate their achievements.

If you’re a VC interested in discussing your current diversity strategies, exploring fairer assessments or taking part in our corporate interactive course, reach out to Bridget at and let’s pave the way for success together.

The Gender Index Report 2022. Results for Wales and Northern Ireland

The gender inequality in female-led businesses is still stubbornly high. However, women play an essential role in economic growth in the UK and around the globe.

Earlier in the blog series, we examined the gender inequality results in England and Scotland; now, we’ll take a closer look at Wales and Northern Ireland. 

Interestingly, when it comes to female entrepreneurship, these two nations show varying disparities, suggesting that we are still far from the ideal situation.

Findings for Wales

Over two decades, improving entrepreneurial inclusivity has been a policy focus for Wales. The Welsh government has implemented numerous initiatives and acts to support women-led businesses and greater diversity, including The Well-being of Future Generations Act.

Welsh Female-Led Enterprises Had Greater Turnover Than the UK

One of the striking achievements in Wales is a much larger turnover growth rate compared to other UK countries. 

The average revenue growth of female-led businesses in Wales is 21%, even though only 2.9% of Britain’s female-headed companies are in Wales. In the remainder of the UK, the turnover growth rate for female-led businesses is 17.8% in England, 16.63% in Scotland, and 18.16% in Northern Ireland. Contrastingly, average turnover growth rates in men-led firms are lower throughout the UK, except in the North East, demonstrating women’s potential and capacity to grow businesses at a steady pace.

Wales has a relatively high percentage of female-led businesses in education, health, wellness, and social services. Interestingly, the most impressive turnover growth was observed in construction, agriculture, forestry, and fishing.

Wales Dominates in Female-Led ‘High-Growth’ Startups

The general trend in the UK shows a more pronounced under-representation of female-run ‘high-growth’ ventures. However, Wales stands out by having the highest proportion of female-led companies across Britain (12.4% of Welsh companies are women-led against a UK average of 8.8%). This trend is particularly true in the education, health, well-being and social care sectors mentioned above.

There remains a lack of women leaders in financial services, manufacturing, IT, technology, agriculture, and real estate industries.

External Financing Is Comparable to the Rest of the UK

Women-owned businesses in Wales were able to acquire external financing at a rate of 19.4%, which is similar to 21.1% for the UK as a whole.

Moreover, Welsh enterprises have over 62,000 investors, with just under one-third being female. These results are comparable to those elsewhere in the UK (outside London).

The Data for Northern Ireland

Last year, Northern Ireland set out an economic objective to become an elite small advanced economy in the world by concentrating on innovation in areas where the country has strengths and creating a ten times better economy for everyone.

The country already has a strong reputation as the leading international investment destination for US cybersecurity firms, with Belfast ranking

among the world’s top ten cities for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). So, what’s the situation with female-led businesses?

Male-dominated Entrepreneurial Landscape

Despite the international reputation enjoyed by Northern Ireland, an overwhelming majority of companies are still led by males. Specifically, men run 65.1% of businesses, women own 13.5%, and the remainder is mixed leadership.

What sticks out, in particular, is a glaring imbalance between male and female-led high-growth ventures, with male firms overwhelmingly dominating these sectors.

Female and Mixed Leadership Companies Grow Faster

Perhaps one of the most interesting findings is that female-led and mixed leadership in small and large firms have grown faster than their male counterparts. However, only 0.17% of Northern Ireland’s companies were deemed to be achieving high growth.

In addition, out of these businesses, 77.7% were led by men, and only 9.8% by women (mixed-gender entrepreneurs founded the rest).

Northern Ireland Has the Lowest Investment in Women-led Enterprises

When it comes to raising additional capital, female-owned businesses attracted only 8.8% of total investment compared to 10.8% in Scotland, 12.0% in England and 12.0% in Wales. This regrettably illustrates the ongoing struggle for women to acquire investment capital.

Wrapping It Up

The Gender Index 2022 is the first attempt to capture the hard data and shed light on gender inequality in the UK’s businesses. Although certain parts of Britain, such as the London area, do show positive signs of improvement in female-led enterprises, as a whole, men still dominate the landscape and have better chances at raising funding.

At The 200 Billion Club, we want to challenge inequality and get female founders investment-ready with the help of our 12-week accelerator programme to prepare you for investment pitches and give you access to a network of investors looking for startups just like yours.

Want to find out more? Reach out to us today!
Source: The Gender Index 2022

What every female entrepreneur needs to know about pitching themselves

Although not all startup founders seek external financing to grow their business, those who do are well aware of the difficulties of the pitching process.

Raising funding for female founders is even more daunting than for their male counterparts due to prevailing stigmas around women making big moves in business. Only 1% of early-stage capital flows into enterprises started by women.

You hear lots of “no’s”, venture capitalists are not impressed, the opportunity is not big enough, or it’s too early for them to invest.

However, rejection often comes because you don’t sell yourself enough during your pitch. In other words, VCs aren’t convinced you have a clear vision, ambition, and/or the right attributes to execute and lead your business.

This article discusses the importance of pitching confidently to present yourself and your business as an investable and worthwhile opportunity.

We see the most incredible women in our cohorts, whose achievements in both their business and personal lives are outstanding, yet they’re resistant to sharing these achievements boldly and loudly. It’s so important that as women we avoid underselling ourselves and get comfortable talking about what we’ve accomplished as well as our vision for what we’re building.

Investors First Invest in People, Then Business

Many entrepreneurs go to their pitches armed with numbers, financial forecasts, and other factual data about their business model. Of course, hard data and a robust product are essential elements, but who you are and how you present yourself can play a more significant part than you think.

At this stage, VCs are looking to invest in people (i.e., the founder and the team) rather than the product. Your product hasn’t been put through its paces enough, so it’s too early to determine whether it’ll be a success.

Therefore, many investors judge you and your team “by the emotion and confidence” that you instil. Are you and your team capable of turning the company into a success story? Do you have the set of skills and expertise required to grow your endeavour? 

Investors are counting on you and your employees to provide a positive return on their investment. For this reason, they want to see devoted and passionate entrepreneurs fully committed to the idea.

How to Sell Yourself During a Funding Pitch?

Demonstrate Confidence

Founder confidence can make or break your pitch. Many female entrepreneurs are more reserved than male business owners regarding certain parts of the pitching process, such as projections on ROI.

Women frequently undervalue themselves and highlight modest returns, which may be less appealing to investors seeking big wins. Furthermore, they tend to be more careful not to oversell their idea, which can be read as a signal of low confidence. 

A winning business pitch should be a confident one where you demonstrate strong ambition and determination to lead the venture through its highs and lows. 

It’s imperative to remember that, as a founder, you are the most valuable asset, so don’t shy away from clearly articulating your skills and experiences and why you’re the best person to lead. 

Above all, investors will always back a founder who has a solid grasp of her product and target market’s pain points while balancing it with strong leadership skills and the ability to grow from setbacks. They want to invest in a well-rounded entrepreneur, so prove that you’re the one!

You Need to Emanate Passion

Investors have no idea who you are or whether you have the drive to build the business, you’re pitching. However, they want to work with someone passionate about the endeavour, its mission, and the team responsible for making things happen.

What’s the best way to get it done? Make your pitch memorable so it leaves a lasting impression on the investors.

But sometimes, portraying passion can be challenging; thus, ensuring how you come across to investors and what visual information you’re communicating is critical.

A study by University College London found that to boost your chances of delivering a winning pitch, you must focus on visual signs, such as your body language, gestures, facial expressions, and visible passion. 

Such visual cues can often be more powerful than your pitch deck, so you must learn to leverage them to your advantage.

Show You Can Execute

If your business is in the early stages, you don’t have a viable product or the most robust strategy, but you can still nail your pitch.

Investors are not only looking for a unique business idea but also for solid abilities to execute your go-to-market plan. In the beginning, there might not be enough factual data to judge you on, so investors make a bet on you as a person and how you make them feel.

Do you come across as someone who can execute the idea and penetrate the market? Have you refined your vision and goals and know exactly how to get there?

You must present yourself as someone who leads with action and doesn’t play safe.

The Bottom Line: You Need to Find the Balance

Successfully pitching your business to investors is about marketing yourself with confidence and passion while having an in-depth knowledge of your product and the market.

At The 200 Billion Club, we understand that women have a small chance of getting funding because of unconscious biases and gendered assumptions in a male-dominated venture capital industry. We offer a bespoke 12-week programme for high-potential female founders to equip you with strong negotiating and persuasion skills to help you land an investment.

Reach out today for more information.

How did the current market affect Startup valuations at the pre-seed and angel stage? 

The current market dip means uncertain times for startup companies. Unprecedented financial times are always something to consider with a startup. Figuring out how to navigate turbulent markets at a pre-seedand angel stage can be difficult. Successfully navigating through downtrend markets can feel impossible when you must sell investors your startup’s ideas in a competitive environment. How does a downtrend market affect valuations, and how can startups adapt to boost investor confidence?

Let’s look at how downtrend markets affect the pre-seed and angel stage and what can be done to navigate through it.

Pre-seed and Angel Stage Valuations

and seed stage, not so much. When there is a market dip, there is no denying that valuations will suffer. And although there are a lot of fluctuations amongst more established startups looking to grow bigger, pre-seed and angel stage valuations are looking a little different.

There is marginally more optimism for this stage of financing startups. Some experts would even go so far as to say that things are “business as usual.” Here at the 200 Billion Club, our funding rounds are currently opening and closing as normal for these startups. 

There is a logical reason why pre-seed and angel stage valuations remain the same when a market is dipping. While more established startups in the later stage of development are evaluated on their revenue potential, pre-seed and angel startups are evaluated on an investor’s belief in the team. This belief extends to the vision of the company. Investors base their valuations on belief rather than hard metrics like more established companies making these early-stage startups much less sensitive to market conditions.

However, this doesn’t mean that their relative immunity will remain. Startup deals are happening worldwide. Despite the current viability of these startup deals in the market dip, stable valuations could change soon. No business is entirely immune to a market dip, and pre-seed and angel startups will feel the pinch. While they are measured on a different “scale” to startups in various stages, investors do expect financial returns from their investments. 

An anonymous UK angel fund investor says that pre-seed are beginning to be hit by      this market dip. The UK-based company says that angel investors are beginning to ask for 20-25% decreases in their valuations.

So while there is a buffer for early startups’ valuations, we will undeniably start seeing these decline. Knowing which sectors are more severely affected by the market dip can aid in developing a business strategy to strengthen the valuations of pre-seed and angel stage startups.

Sectors Affected By Market Devaluations

A useful bellwether for early-stage startups is to look at trend in valuations of their       later stage counterparts. As valuations are affected more directly and intensely  than newer stage deals in these current market conditions. Comparing valuations based on a startups sector becomes a useful tool.     

Currently these decreases in valuations are trending toward consumer-facing businesses. . 

For example, companies like Deliveroo and have drastically seen their share prices tank. These startups are looking to raise growth stage capital in the next quarter. But in shifting perspective from a founder to a late-stage investor, you wouldn’t want to be throwing cash at a delivery company with a high valuation from a previous round in this dipped market. Valuations from Q4 of 2021 have tanked by 60%.

In addition to customer-facing businesses, B2B SaaS companies are also looking at some uncertain times ahead. 

So what are the surviving sectors we are seeingin the current dip in the market? Experts agree that technology-based companies, particularly deeptech, are a good option for investors to bet on in dipping markets. 

Marcin Hejka, the co-founder, and general partner at OTB Ventures specializing in deeptech investments, says that market downturns are the best times for enterprises to begin improving efficiency. This cannot happen without deeptech in this digital age. The deeptech space is possibly the least impacted part of the venture capital market, according to Hejka.

Companies with technology components are shown to increase their valuations, despite the dip in the markets. Consumers search for solutions in market dips, and investors can identify the sectors that offer these more efficient services.

How to Successfully Navigate a Market Dip

The question is, “What should founders do in the face of an economic downfall?” The good news is that founders can do something despite the uncontrollable nature of a market dip. Leaner companies with strengthened processes are more likely to weather dipped markets and grow more efficiently after a market dip.

We’ve seen many venture capitalist telling startups to start downsizing and focusing on efficiency rather than growth. This will strengthen their core business in the face of a downturn and make sure that one they can survive and two have a stronger position when capital is available again. 

However, this isn’t always the most viable option. Searching for common trends in a company’s sector will help you establish how to recalibrate your goals for a new lower valuation environment. 

As multiples become lower, companies can establish how much increase in annual recurring revenue (ARR). They need to make to reach the same value as their last valuation round.

With a target ARR in hand, it is time to evaluate if the business is growing efficiently to reach its financial and growth goals. 

Burn multiples of your company are defined as the cash burned divided by the net ARR added. Burn multiples are a metric that you can evaluate every quarter and track closely to stay on plan. Burn multiples are the metrics that are more easily controlled when there is market turbulence, and you need to reach specific financial goals.

Additionally, you need to be aware that fundraising and capital become more uncertain in turbulent economic times and more expensive. This means that you must carefully watch your cash balance and manage any runway your company may be experiencing before it gets off the ground. Adjusting spending and hiring can go a long way to ensuring that you have a viable business in a market downturn and after.

Businesses that focus on surviving market downturns will reap the benefits of their efforts. Markets are cyclical, and the companies that can survive this evolving nature will often see an increased market share with massive growth opportunities thanks to efficient operations.

How can startups fundraise in a market downturn


Despite the current market conditions, there are still opportunities for those with a great product and a solid business plan. If you have what it takes, don’t let the current state of the market deter you from seeking out funding and bringing your vision to life.

At The 200 Billion Club, we’re passionate about supporting women founders accross verticals. We believe that financing startups led by women founder is paramount to drive innovation and progress in the world. That’s why we’re sharing with you some thoughts targetted towards startups that are currently raising a funding round.

We hope that this blog will provide valuable insights for those looking to navigate the current market conditions. So whether you’re a startup founder or an investor, we encourage you to read on and learn more about the state of global venture funding.

Funding Decreasing Quarter-Over-Quarter. coins a concept of investment and saving moneys.

The current state of startups fundraise in market downturn

A recent report by Cbinsight shows global venture funding falling to $142.4B in Q1’22. This number is down by a fifth from the previous quarter’s total. As economic uncertainty lingers on and investors tighten their belts, the private market’s downward trajectory appears to be continuing full force in Q2’22.

In fact, at the current pace of activity, global funding for the second quarter is projected to decrease by 19% quarter-over-quarter. If these investment trends continue, Q2’22 will see the lowest total for quarterly funding since the end of 2020. Additionally, deals are on track for a 22% drop from Q1’22, reaching a level last seen in Q3 2020.

This climate of decreased funding and deal activity presents a challenge for startups. Especially those that may be seeking new rounds of financing.

While markets could shift meaningfully during the second half of the quarter, the first half of the year is shaping up to be one of the slowest periods for private market activity in recent memory.

What does fundraise in market downturn mean for startups?

With deal activity and funding decreasing quarter-over-quarter, it may be more difficult to secure the capital you need to grow your business.

If you’re a startup founder, there are a few things you can do to weather the current market conditions:

Focus on business fundamentals. In times of uncertainty, it’s important to focus on the basics. Make sure your business is running efficiently and that you have a clear path to profitability. This will make you more attractive to investors and help you weather any bumps in the road.

-Be realistic about your funding needs. It’s important to be realistic about how much capital you need to grow your business. In the current climate, investors are more likely to be conservative with their financing. Therefore, it’s important to have a solid plan for how you will use any funding you do receive.

-Look for alternative sources of financing. If traditional venture funding is out of reach, there are other options you can explore. Government grants, crowdfunding, borrowing and angel investors are all potential sources of capital.

-Know when to pivot: In a down market, it’s important to be flexible and willing to pivot if necessary. If your original plan isn’t working, don’t be afraid to make changes. This could mean changing your business model, product, or even your target market.


If you’re a startup founder, it’s important to be strategic about how you’re approaching the current market climate. By focusing on business fundamentals, being realistic about your funding needs, and looking for alternative sources of financing, you can position your startup for success.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and make your startup dreams a reality.

What’s Next for Women in Tech?

Key Takeaways from the Women Who Tech Startup & Tech Culture Survey Report

Women and men in tech.


Since the last time Women Who Tech surveyed women in tech, there have been both promising advancements and concerning setbacks for gender equality in tech culture. Here, we take a comprehensive look at the data to provide insights into what’s next for women in tech.

Key findings from the report

The key findings from the report show that there have been both positive and negative changes over the past year.

The number of women who say they have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace decreased over this past year. However, there is still an issue with discrimination against them at work. Additionally pay gaps for Latinas and African American females remain significant throughout all industries. It is also true in tech fields where you would expect things to change drastically due to increased representation by females overall since 2013. Bureau reporting first showed signs that might be changing. However ,black people are still underrepresented which leads us back into having less visibility. Some statistics:

  • 3% of computing-related jobs are held by African-American women, 6% held by Asian women and 2% held by Hispanic women.
  • 48% of women in STEM jobs report discrimination in the recruitment and hiring process.
  • In 2016, women only received about 2% of total investor funding, and women-led businesses made up just 4.9% of all VC deals.

(Forbes, On Latina Equal Pay Day: Let’s Get More Latinas Into Tech)

  • Women earn up to 28% less than their male colleagues in the same tech roles.

(Women in Tech Survey, WOMEN IN TECHNOLOGY SURVEY 2019)

Despite these challenges, there have also been some positive changes for women in tech. The number of women starting their own businesses has increased, and more women are now working in leadership positions in startups and innovative companies. Additionally, there is a growing trend of investors supporting women-led startups.

Women are progressing in tech since last year’s survey

There is a growing trend of investors supporting women-led startups.

Despite these advancements, there are still many challenges that remain. The number of women who say they have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace has decreased. However, women who say they have been discriminated against at work has increased. Additionally, women of color are still underrepresented in tech, and the pay gap between men and women in tech remains significant. Despite these challenges, there is reason to be optimistic about the future.

As more women enter the field, it is likely that the number of women in leadership positions will increase, pay disparities will narrow, and more inclusive cultures will develop. Additionally, initiatives like Girls Who Code are helping to encourage young girls to pursue careers in tech.

It is clear that women have made progress in the tech industry since last year’s survey. In the next section, the remaining challenges are studied.

The challenges that still remain

The challenges still remain from the perspective of policy-makers, educators, entrepreneurs, and investors.

According to the survey, the top three challenges facing women in tech are: lack of diversity in the industry, bias and discrimination, and sexual harassment.

These challenges can make it difficult for them to thrive in tech environments. Educators, entrepreneurs, and investors who commit to creating more inclusive startup and tech ecosystems must continue to work together. Only by doing so can we ensure that women have the opportunity to fully participate in and contribute to the tech industry.

The first challenge is the lack of diversity in the tech industry. The vast majority of people working in tech are white and male.

This lack of diversity has a number of consequences. First, it creates an environment in which women and minorities can feel isolated and excluded. Second, it means that the industry is not benefit from the talents and perspectives of a wide range of people. Finally, it can lead to the reinforcement of sexist and racist stereotypes.

The second challenge facing women in tech is bias and discrimination. Tech environments people undervalue and underestimate women. Third, they may be subject to sexual harassment or other forms of gender-based violence. 50% of women in tech declare to be subject to sexual harassement.

The third challenge is the lack of access to resources and networks. This problem is particularly acute for women of color and LGBTQ women.

What’s next?

Policy-makers, educators, entrepreneurs, and investors must continue to work together to address these issues and create lasting change. Only then will we see a truly equal and inclusive tech ecosystem where women can thrive.

Some key takeaways from the report that highlight the challenges women still face in tech include:

  • Women are still significantly outnumbered by men in this sector, making up just 26% of the workforce.
  • Women of color are even more underrepresented, accounting for just 11% of the tech workforce.
  • Only 2% of venture capital funding goes to startups founded by women.
  • Women are less likely than men to be given opportunities to lead and advance in their careers.
  • More than half of women in tech have experienced some form of gender discrimination at work.

These statistics underscore the need for continued effort to support and promote the diversity in the tech ecosystem. By working together to create a more inclusive environment, we can provide more opportunities for women to succeed in the tech sector.


With increased awareness and commitment from policy-makers, and investors alike we can see an equal platform where female engineers could thrive

Too often, people feel unwelcome in the workplace, and this can lead to a variety of negative consequences.

This isn’t just bad for the individual employees who feel unwelcome – it’s also bad for business. Unwelcoming environments lead to less productivity, creativity, and innovation. They also create a hostile work culture that can damage a company’s reputation.

Creating an inclusive environment is key to creating a productive and positive work culture. These findings show just how important it is for everyone involved – especially those at higher levels of leadership within companies -to create inclusive environments so every individual feels welcome. With the right tools and resources, it’s easier than ever to make your workplace more welcoming for everyone.