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Women at Work

5 Secrets To Becoming A Successful Entrepreneur

Even If You're Not Rich Or Well-Connected

Sure "the early bird gets the worm" but there's something to be said about "the rich bird getting the best worm", and the same can be said about entrepreneurs. It's no surprise that people with family money, cultural capital, or other connections are at an advantage in their entrepreneurial endeavors. These circumstances can be used to their benefit, especially when met with unexpected setbacks as their businesses are brought to fruition.

But what does one do without those kinds of resources or connections - is it possible to become a successful entrepreneur when facing various hurdles?

We sat down with Nathalie Molina Niño, CEO and Founder of BRAVA Investments. Nathalie is a technologist and coder by trade, and consummate entrepreneur and a storyteller at heart. Impressively, Nathalie launched her first tech startup at the age of 20!

More recently, Nathalie just released her first book Leapfrog, prompting this discussion about how to become a successful entrepreneur. Leapfrog is a startup bible with 50 proven hacks from self-made women who turned the status quo on its head (spoiler alert - our own President and Co-Founder is one of those women)!

Are you looking for a space where you can chat with other female entrepreneurs, or women who've been in your shoes? Click here to become a PowerToFly VIP and gain access to all of our virtual chats just like this one. Grab your seat at our table—we're waiting for you! :)


What's the biggest challenge you've overcome on your journey to becoming an entrepreneur?

Nathalie Molina Niño: Finances are always a thing, which is kind of why I started my company, and why there's a whole section in my book dedicated to funding, including the "F**** the Friends and Family Round" hack. We're in a world that assumes you have friends and family to write you hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of checks, and if you do, that's great! By all means, use that leverage. But the reality is, if you look at the shrinking middle class and the reality of how many people have savings accounts, some would argue that more than 90% of Americans do not have those resources or access to these funds, and I find it really insulting when people just assume that's how everyone gets started.

To overcome this challenge, you have to look at alternative ways to raise funds. Women are more successful at launching crowdfunding campaigns, and now, there are multiple ways to do that. It's not about selling your product in advance or giving away t-shirts, now we have equity crowdfunding or debt equity crowdfunding. There are tons of resources via the Small Business Association (SBA), contests, and other mechanisms to help launch your business. And that's the challenge for women—finances, and it's the reason I started BRAVA. What's really holding women back is the lack of access to capital.


Do you have any tips for fundraising?

NMN: Unless you are willing to possibly be fired from your own company, please don't take venture capital funding - and this is coming from someone who's been there. You should seek out venture capital if you want to build something amazing, grow it really fast, and are ok with not being in the picture three years from now should it be acquired, or whatever else may happen. My point here is to not romanticize venture capital—instead I'd like us to be really clear about the pros, the cons, and what it potentially means to give up that much of your company. Also, what VCs don't tell you is that there are people out there who own their own companies with billion dollar revenue who have not received a penny of venture capital. Long gone are the days where in order to launch a successful business, you must live in frat house, bro-culture VC incubators, and it's why I've packed my book with stories of people who've taken different paths - we have to shift the narrative.

And then, let's educate ourselves about the alternatives, such as equity crowdfunding and equity debt crowdfunding as well as loans and lines of credit that people like the Small Business Administration in your city, or even in your state or nationally, have available that most of us don't even realize exist. It's there, and it's either cheap money, or in some cases, it's even free money because it's obtainable as grants.

My concern is that we're pushing for women and people of color to get more venture capital, which is a good thing because not enough of us are getting it, but nobody's talking about debt. Nobody's telling us about how you shouldn't be using your Series A funds to make payroll that month—that's what loans and lines of credit are for. We're not talking about the pieces of debt and funding that are important to launching businesses. We now have a bunch of entrepreneurs with really unbalanced capital stack, meaning that they have too much VC, not enough debt, and not enough of these other types of capital that are really important - if you have an unbalanced capital stack, your company will fail.


Do I need a co-founder to get started?

NMN: It really depends - let's say you're interested in buying a well known baked good franchise. You're looking at spending $80,000-$100,000 for a moderately priced franchise. In this case you're in business for yourself, but not by yourself, because there's an organization whose job it is to make sure you're successful. They train you, train your employees, and give you the exact instructions of what you need to do to be successful. It's a proven model—they've done it dozens, if not hundreds, of times before. In this case, if you have the resources, maybe you don't need a co-founder.

However, if you're looking for traditional investments, most of the investors that I know recommend that you have a co-founder. Many won't start a conversation without one. It's not just about splitting up work between two people, but also splitting the anxieties, sleepless nights, not to mention anxieties that come with starting a business. In addition, you should be going outside your circle to find your co-founder. Find someone who is radically different from you—not just personality-wise, but someone who brings a different skill set to the table. If the plan is to scale and grow your business the way I would love for all women to, then yes, you need a wingwoman or a wingman to help you along the way.


What would you have done differently when starting off?

NMN: When starting any of my endeavors, two things come to mind that I could have done differently. First, I should have spent more time building strong alliances and interacting in this community of strong women - PowerToFly has done this really well. I sort of suffered in silence, and I felt like it was me, and maybe my co-founders, against the world. When I think about #MeToo and all of the stories that have come out, all I can think is that many of us thought that this was only happening to me, when clearly that wasn't the case. I'm so proud of this next generation of women entrepreneurs who came out, who have been brave, who have been speaking out, and who have been naming names. There is strength in numbers, and alliances are forming because of that, too.

Second, when I started out I felt like I could either be an activist or an entrepreneur, but I couldn't be both. I felt like I had to choose, when in reality you can absolutely be both. So many companies and are transparent about what they believe in and what they stand for, and that was really important to me.


Do you have any tips for someone who is running a business while also employed?

NMN: It is super hard, but I also go back to this idea that there are many different ways to be an entrepreneur. Angela Lee is somebody whom I mention in the book—she started something called 37 Angels. And I think 37 Angels was her third or fourth company. She had a job at, I believe, one of the Big 5 consulting firms, and she tried her first three startups by testing her ideas and seeing if there was any traction in the market. Her first three ideas didn't go anywhere, but her fourth one, 37 Angels, got traction. People started to really follow, and people were getting excited and coming on board. 37 Angels is all about training high-net-worth women to become angel investors. There was clearly interest in the space, and the next thing you know, she had a business on her hands. It took her awhile to figure that out, and it took the revenue to get to a certain level before she realized that it was time to quit her job. I guess I'm not so much worried about women being able to run a business while employed because I've seen women do far crazier stuff than that.

Talent

PowerToFly Holiday Gift Guide: Our Must-Have Work-From-Home Items

What To Buy For Your Favorite Remote Worker (Or Yourself!)

My friends were pretty jealous when I told them I'd found a remote job. They pictured me choosing my hours, working from the comfort of my bed, and rocking pajamas 24/7. All great things... in moderation.

Just a little over a month into my role at PowerToFly, I've already experienced many of the pros and cons of working from home. I know I'm not alone in this - the remote workforce is only growing (9 million people in the U.S. alone worked from home at least half of the time in 2017).

The beauty of remote work is that it lets you decide what kind of environment you'll be most productive in… but the downside is that if you don't build that environment for yourself, you might find you've got a lot of back pain (turns out, working from bed isn't so comfortable after all) and not much energy.

So in the spirit of the holidays, I asked my more experienced remote coworkers to share their must-have work-from-home items - the little things that keep them sane and smiling during their daily grind.

Whether you already work from home, are looking to do so in the future, or are shopping for someone who does (cough cough, Mom), this holiday gift guide is for you.


1. Blue light glasses to protect your eyes from long hours looking at the computer (and to keep you looking sharp at the same time).


Get them from Amazon for $21.99

Our Senior Marketing & Community Manager Lauren says: "I've never worn glasses EVER, but when I started working remotely my eyes got so tired. I've seen a huge difference after I started wearing blue light glasses, and no headaches!"


2. A bullet journal to help you stay on top of your goals. So you know you're being productive even when your boss can't literally pat you on the back.

Get it on Amazon for $9.06

Our Customer Success Associate Brinley says: "I use it for everything – hand-drawn calendar, to-do lists, and even personal stuff like budget planning and weekly goals."


3. A laptop tray so you can be productive from wherever you're most comfortable. (You haven't really worked from home until you've worked from your bed.)


Get it from Barnes & Noble for $39.95

Our Recruiting Manager Amy says: "I love my laptop tray!!! you can fit your planner, your laptop and most importantly, your coffee."


4. A productivity planner to help you become more intrinsically motivated. (Ideal for those lacking the artistic talents required for bullet journaling.)

Get it on Intelligent Change for $24.95

Our President and Cofounder Katharine says: "It helps me manage and protect my time so that when I have creative work that requires a lot of focus, I can break it down into short, intense chunks and be more efficient."


5. A stylish stone diffuser that brings your favorite scent to wherever you're working.

Get it from Vitruvi for $119

Our Senior Account Executive Anastasia says: "Right now I'm working in a room that smells like a forest after a light rain." I've definitely never heard anyone say that about their cubicle.


6. A gym/workout class membership to keep you active (and sane) during the week - because exercise makes you happy and being happy makes you more productive! And a little bit of human interaction doesn't hurt, either.

Our Mid-Market Account Executive Deveshe says: "It's important for me to get out, shake a leg and jump around. Otherwise I wouldn't step out through the week."


7. A Peloton stationary bike so you can get in a great workout even when it's too cold to leave the house. (And once you invest this much money, you know damn well you'll actually use it, or lose ten pounds from gnawing guilt alone. Win-win.)

Get it from Peloton for $2,245

Our Operations Manager Gina says: "It allows me to stay fit no matter how busy I am…I can exercise during my lunch hour or in between meetings if need be."


8. A backpack with a dedicated fleece-lined laptop compartment to keep all of your equipment protected and organized, whether you're traveling across the world or walking across the street to your favorite cafe.

Get this one from North Face for $73.99

Our Director of Customer Success Cristina says: "Love it for packing my laptop and tech items as it has tons of pockets Including fleece lined ones for tech."


9. Bluetooth headphones with immersive sound so you'll never miss a word your boss says.

Get these Bose SoundLink On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones with Microphone on Amazon for $159

Our Director of Business Development Amanda says: "I can get up and move around the house while I'm on calls."


10. A battery case for your phone so you can work wherever you want, without running out of juice.

Get it on Amazon for $108.99

Our Production Lead Rob says: "When traveling, I have to have my iPhone charging case."


11. A speaker to listen to your favorite music/podcasts when the sound of silence is just too much.

Get the Sonos Play:1 from Google Express for 149.99

Our Production Lead Rob says: "Working from home can get lonely sometimes so I love to play WNYC or podcasts when I feel like I need some company. I'm also a big vinyl collector and I have a turntable that can play wirelessly to a Sonos so even though my record player is in my living room, I can listen to it in my office."


12. An adjustable laptop stand that your wrists and your wallet (it's definitely cheaper than carpel tunnel surgery in the U.S.) will thank you for. Plus, this one doubles as a standing desk.

Get it on Amazon for $59.99

Our Customer Success Manager Lola says: "I'm using a box right now, but you definitely need something to elevate your computer."


13. A mate gourd and yerba mate, a.k.a the perfect workmates. Get the jolt you need without the jitters and gain your South American friends' approval at the same time.

Get the gourd and bombilla (straw) on Amazon for $23.99 And the Yerba for $13.95 (or make a trip to Argentina and buy it for $2)

Our DevOps Lead Emiliano says: "Very Argentinean, but definitely something that cannot be missing from my desk."


14. A foot massager to reward yourself for a job well done. Who says your home office can't double as a home spa? Work hard, relax hard.

Buy it on Amazon for $59.98

Our Product Designer Jedidah says: "Sitting in one spot can get strenuous on muscles in my leg, but with my foot massager I get to improve blood flow in that area, and enjoy a great foot massage which eases stress."


----

My coworker Anastasia said it best:

I love that working from home you get to take charge of your surroundings - I'm never cold like I am in offices (the male vs. female divide there ha). And I like me some good ambiance which is obviously subjective too so I appreciate being able to control it alllll myself.

So take charge of your surroundings and make 2019 your most productive - and comfortable - year yet!

#treatyourself

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Salary Negotiation Tips For Women: 10 Expert Tactics

Why Asking Matters and How To Do It The Right Way

"How much do you want?" can feel like a trick question when you're negotiating salary.

The first time I was asked this question, I had no idea what to say. I just knew that what I'd been offered wasn't enough. Having relocated from the U.S. to Argentina just a month prior, I was still learning the market and was worried about having my offer rescinded if I asked for too much. Knowledge is power in a negotiation, and in my ignorance of local norms and rates, I found myself feeling powerless and frustrated.

The hiring manager seized on my silence and asked me another question: "What's the minimum you'd accept?" Not knowing how to stall for more time, I blurted out my actual minimum. He flashed a toothy grin and said, "Done." I knew then and there that I'd gone way too low - his smile said it all.

I broke two cardinal rules of negotiation that day:

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Better Companies

A Look at Our Evening with Four Fast-Growing San Francisco Startups

On November 15th, PowerToFly returned to ConnectionsSF in downtown San Francisco for our second event.

For this evening of networking, product demos and panel discussion, we gathered women tech leaders from four fast-growing startups to tell us more about their latest innovations and to dive a bit deeper into their own career journeys. Our speakers for the evening included Dun Wang, VP of Product and Growth at Calm; Lisa Retief, Director of Engineering at Cloudflare; Jessica Venticinque, Engineer at Forward and Laura Dechant, Head of Customer Success & Ops at Philo.

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In Person Events

A Look at Our Recent Networking Event in Seattle

PowerToFly was so happy to be back in Seattle for another amazing evening of women in tech on December 5th. Sponsored by MAKERS Workspaces and held at their spacious, wood-accent venue in the Pikes Place Market neighborhood, the event featured three fast-growing Seattle startups: Convoy, who is changing the way companies think about trucking; Smartsheet, a cloud-based platform that makes it easier for teams to share and collaborate; and Stripe, who help power millions of businesses in 100+ countries and across nearly every industry by providing a set of tools for building and running an internet business.

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Pluralsight

A Look at Our Event with Pluralsight

One of PowerToFly's missions is to provide educational outlets for women in tech, business and beyond. We strive to do this through our events, mentoring programs and through our bi-weekly VIP virtual Lunch & Learns, lead by women across a wide spectrum of fields.

This is why we were thrilled to partner with such a like minded company in Pluralsight, who are making it easy to keep up with technology through expert-led courses, assessments, and tools in fields such as software development, IT ops, data, and cyber security, for an evening of networking and learning on November 28th.

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