This week's post is brought to you by iFundWomen's Chief Revenue Officer, Concetta Rand.  Concetta's passion for the success of female entrepreneurs can only be matched by her love for a good coding pun and, with almost two decades of experience as a growth-oriented strategic marketer and data storyteller, the iFundWomen team is lucky to have her.  We hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as we have!

When facing new challenges or in times of anxiety, I hold onto the belief, ‘Leap, and the net will appear’. And that is very much the story of how I came to join iFundWomen.

It’s been 3 months since I officially joined the iFundWomen team, but I have been passionate about entrepreneurship my whole life. I am the daughter of small business founders  – my parents launched their company when I was in middle school after my father’s company was restructured.  While I’m sure it was a stressful experience, I can vividly remember my Mom saying she wished they had made the leap sooner. It brought them so much joy and satisfaction, not to mention a sense of control and independence.

My career has centered around being a translator and an ambassador, working in B2B2C environments helping global brands like American Express, Google, Costco, and Heineken use data to connect with consumers and improve their products. But I never thought female entrepreneurs were any different than just ‘entrepreneurs’ until I joined my first tech startup. Having worked in organizations with tremendous gender diversity, I never thought much about gender at work or in my career - that was, until I found myself the lone woman in management team meetings, or pitching investors and clients who all happen to be men. Nothing about me had changed, but suddenly I had to work much harder to be heard. Despite having a physical place at the table, my seat somehow felt smaller. Balancing a career, motherhood, and pregnancy was much more difficult without female mentors and colleagues.

I never thought female entrepreneurs were any different than just ‘entrepreneurs’ until I joined my first tech startup

That experience changed my perspective and made me consider the tremendous challenges faced by other female entrepreneurs - women building their careers or starting their own businesses and coming up against systemic barriers, a lack of role models, and a small fraction of the opportunities that are available to men.    

As soon as I joined the iFundWomen team, I got the opportunity to speak with hundreds of female founders and business owners, hearing firsthand the obstacles they encounter while getting their businesses off the ground.  When I think about what holds back the potential of female entrepreneurship - access to capital, coaches and mentors, role models to emulate -  iFundWomen addresses each of them individually and holistically.  We offer dedicated coaching services, we have a Slack community full of peer mentors, we publish success stories so aspiring entrepreneurs have role models, and we get money into the hands of women so they can do incredible things.

iFundWomen is my first seed stage startup. We are just 8 months old, but in that time we’ve had over 1,000 women apply to be on our platform. Entrepreneurs have raised nearly $700,000 through their campaigns. For the first time in my career, I’m able to merge my professional skills with my personal passions by helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses and carving our path to market. So instead of a few more 000s in a corporate bottom line, it’s an investment that helps someone start their business, hire their first employee, or to attract additional investors because of a successful crowdfund.  

Five years from now, I like to imagine the impact we will have made. We are designing our business to be a global one-stop shop for entrepreneurs to raise capital to launch and grow their businesses without taking on debt, for investors to spot up-and-coming companies, and for consumers looking to support the female economy. When I look to the future, I imagine the success stories that we will have been a part of, and the next generation of women who will be inspired by the actions of our community. Seeing women take their businesses and financial futures into their own hands inspires me every day. I believe now more than ever in the power of entrepreneurship to change lives.

Seeing women take their businesses and financial futures into their own hands inspires me every day. I believe now more than ever in the power of entrepreneurship to change lives.

My previous startup experience was all-consuming, so signing up to do it again was anything but obvious.  But when Karen Cahn started sharing news of iFundWomen back in November, I couldn’t get it out of my mind.  Karen and I had previously worked together at Google and anyone who meets Karen knows she is a force. I knew if the opportunity to work with her again ever presented itself, I would jump on it.  So here I was with iFundWomen bouncing around in my brain - I was suddenly staying up nights thinking through plans and strategies, and pinging her with emails and questions. But I was also considering traditional job opportunities. I’m a mother of two, and annoyingly practical at times. After nearly 24+ months of red eyes and startup culture, the idea of returning to a safe, predictable corporate job was very appealing.

In the end, my decision came down to my kids and what I wanted to say to them. Did I want them to think I was brave and willing to follow my ambition and passions - or did I want them to grow up thinking they needed to make safe choices? And I thought of my parents, and how they had wished they had started their entrepreneurial journey sooner.

Without risk there’s no growth, so I decided to leap – and I’ve never looked back.