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Wonder, a podcast by Entrepreneurs’ Organization, places women entrepreneurs in conversation with those thought leaders who amaze, astonish and inspire. Each guest shares their own journey with entrepreneur and host, Kalika Yap, giving insight into the ordinary challenges of extraordinary people.

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Aug 18, 2017

Carine Schneider, founder of WFF Connect, is proud to be one of the “Most Influential Women in Silicon Valley,” and dubbed one of the “17 Women to Watch in 2017” by Brown Brothers Harriman. Today on the EO Wonder Podcast, Carine discusses challenges that female entrepreneurs face and her mission to change the way our culture sees women in the workplace. Tune-in to learn how Carine is revolutionizing the entrepreneur-investor connection for women, and listen as she reveals what she’s learned in business, what investors are really looking for, and how to be there when capital appears.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 00:13 – Carine has a mission-driven company called WFF Connect and was previously working for the NASDAQ private market
  • 00:24 – She worked with entrepreneurs and was an entrepreneur herself, working for non-profit and for-profit companies, and saw the challenges women faced
  • 00:35 – Women struggled to run companies, raise money, find clients/partners; she wanted to focus on the fundraising part of the company, so that’s what she did
  • 00:51 – As they developed their tools, investors said they were interested in investing in women-run companies but found that their companies weren’t “investor-ready”
  • 01:04 – They added an educational component to help women prepare themselves so that they can raise capital
  • 01:15 – Carine’s early entrepreneurial ventures
  • 01:22 – Her first major venture was starting NASPP (National Association of Stock Plan Professionals): An organization for everyone who worked in the stock plan world in the U.S.
  • 01:40 – She started it with a partner, and there are now about 8,000 members
  • 02:00 – She had so much fun with the freedom, creativity, and daily variance of entrepreneurship
  • 02:20 – She was young and had no kids; she had always seen her father in a company’s leadership role, and now she was the one making the decisions
  • 02:45 – After she started NASPP she went back to Morgan Stanley, and she ended up being a partner at PWC, which was 93,000 people at the time
  • 03:03 – She’s always felt the tug between entrepreneurship and working for a large, established company
  • 03:24 – After a number of critical years with PWC she started her first company; at that time she felt ready, even though she had a family, was the main breadwinner, and knew the risk
  • 03:58 – Her son encouraged her to go for it; her family is her biggest support
  • 04:18 – WFF Connect is a company but also does something good, she’s not just peddling a product
  • 04:37 – The founder of Gymboree, Joan Barnes, was on their advisory board and a big supporter; Carine loves and can relate to parts of her story in her book “Play it Forward”
  • 05:33 – Gymboree was not started as a business; it started as a way for moms and kids to connect; Joan considers herself an “accidental entrepreneur”
  • 06:20 – What tips would Carine give to women entrepreneurs?
  • 06:55 – Get very comfortable with your numbers, not just your product or solution: Become a businessperson
  • 07:42 – Get good advice; you need a good lawyer, you need to protect your idea, company, ownership stake, and accounting
  • 08:20 – Network: 3-6 months of full-time work is needed to successfully fundraise, be prepared to do those things or working with an investor may not be for you
  • 08:58 – Traits of women entrepreneurs that investors like
  • 09:20 – Women are tenacious, have a humble quality, and work hard to make sure the company is taken care of
  • 09:39 – Men make sure the office looks nice, whereas a woman will work from her bedroom to not spend money on an office or good address
  • 09:55 – Women tend to be diligent and protect the capital they raise, and they make unemotional decisions about things
  • 10:20 – Women entrepreneurs say things like “I can’t afford to fail” whereas men say “If this doesn’t work out, I’ve got 100 other ideas
  • 10:48 – Women tend to not dream big enough
  • 11:03 – Men are more confident in how big their idea can get, women give conservative estimates; Harvard has done research on this difference, and generally the audience picks the male
  • 11:58 – Carine’s company is trying to change that unconscious bias
  • 12:15 – Confidence is a big part of the issue
  • 12:35 – When she ran a tech company, she’d present in front of the board and they’d rather she “make it up, and disappoint them later” than be upfront with the numbers
  • 12:49 – People want to dream, and women tend to be practical and brutally honest
  • 13:10 – Expectations of women: A man in a meeting said he doesn’t hire women because they have to be home at 5pm to care for kids and family (in San Francisco in 2017!)
  • 13:36 – Women in the room were upset, speaker asked him if he had ever asked a woman to stay past 5pm, he said no and she told him he was the problem
  • 13:58 – Women are expected to have more obligations at home, so they aren’t even asked
  • 14:25 – This expectation is so engrained in our culture but needs to be let go
  • 14:50 – How Carine does it with her family: She has a great husband and had a great nanny, she is now an empty-nester so has the time and energy
  • 15:12 – Her kids saw all her failure and success and she hopes it has inspired them
  • 15:35 – She was awarded one of the “Most Influential Women in Silicon Valley,” and Brown Brothers Harriman said she was one of the “17 Women to Watch in 2017”
  • 16:02 – Her successes include her great family, kids doing well, being a partner at PWC, GEO, a global equity non-profit organization that she started and is now stepping down from
  • 17:14 – Challenges and failures
  • 17:32 – She’s learned to be more careful about picking partners, board, and advisors, it’s like a marriage: She still feels naïve at times about the intentions of others and has learned the hard way
  • 18:25 – For WFF Connect she didn’t take on any investors; she didn’t want a board
  • 18:45 – Be careful not to hire people too fast; be sure you are ready to take someone on financially and that you can make payroll
  • 19:26 – Meet everyone
  • 19:44 – How can we distinguish between the good and bad people in business?
  • 19:45 – Ask the investor to talk to 1-2 CEO’s of companies they’ve invested in and do your research; if they say no, something is wrong
  • 20:58 – Things that happen behind the scenes
  • 20:10 – Some chairmen don’t allow women in the boardroom because they have to change their behavior
  • 21:22 – Term that sheets look good at first and actually aren’t; term sheets are complicated so always have an expert look at it
  • 22:30 – Use lawyers and accountants to understand all documents fully, especially overseas
  • 23:04 – If you sign something, it can be used against you later
  • 23:50 – One lawyer does not fit all; use the correct lawyer that is experienced in your specific need
  • 24:38 – Law firms are putting together packages for entrepreneurs, look for those; you can find good people at your needed price
  • 25:39 – Some of their sponsors have packages that do their books; look to outsource the things you aren’t good at
  • 26:16 – Know how to cut up the pie with people you are bringing on; work with firms like Advanced HR that can help you come up with a plan that makes sense, check out wffconnect.com for resources
  • 27:00 – Get a male and female mentor; they’ll give you advice and support in different ways
  • 27:45 – Women Entrepreneur’s Hall of Fame will be launched in February to recognize and honor women who “did it”
  • 28:15 – Joan would say “it wasn’t that hard,” while other women have a bunch of startups and can’t seem to get it financially; WFF Connect community is focused on capital and fundraising specifically
  • 28:40 – Other organizations focus on other things
  • 28:56 – Her event in LA is February 12-14 is called “Crossroads” and is held at the Marina del Rey Ritz-Carlton
  • 29:14 – Secretary of State Madeline Albright has been confirmed
  • 29:25 – Practical financial advice for women starting or growing their company
  • 29:35 – Investors, peers, and potential partners will be there; a vendor hall of firms and services will also be available
  • 31:10 – She supports women entrepreneurs globally; A service they offer to their members called “Connections” links investors with women-owned businesses so they can watch your business and possibly invest
  • 32:35 –Carine has this mission because she’s lucky, she can, and feels she has experience to pass along; a network isn’t enough, it has to be bigger than just a single connection
  • 33:55 – She want to see women be successful and invest in other women; with more women investors, more women would be invested in and we’d see an economy change
  • 34:12 – Women own the majority of wealth as of last year, but aren’t investing, why?
  • 34:25 – Women approach things differently: Portfolia is a different type of investment platform, Plum Alley is an investment membership, Golden Seeds are angels, 10 royal princesses are finding a way to invest in women-run businesses, too
  • 35:22 – Women investors want to get into it and learn; women VCs are starting to organize themselves
  • 36:11 – Become a member and support the organization so it can support you. Get on Connections (contact Carine through the website for a discount code)
  • 37:05 – The capital is there; if you look and are ready, you’ll find it

3 Key Points:

  1. Recognize and appreciate your support system that encourages you to fulfill your entrepreneurial dreams.
  2. Know who you’re working with (advisors/employees/investors) and outsource to the appropriate people.
  3. Become a businessperson; know your numbers and get comfortable with all aspects of your business and you’ll find the capital you need.

Resources Mentioned:

To listen to more EO Wonder episodes as well as our other podcasts, head to EOPodcasts.com