You know…. this needs to be said OUT LOUD. It needs to be said by women and by men. I commend you for taking the lumps that came with starting the conversation. I can only speak from my own experience building the next green energy generation and storage device at www.32atps.com. By far, the most concrete, actionable help I have ever received (no strings attached /free) has been from men. I have been very hesitant to get lumped in with anything that is for “women only” and generally, I find the groups to be very unhelpful, and have very low engagement. For example, I need to talk to customers, and I need letters of support for my SBIR grant…I’ve posted quite a bit about this and have gotten no response. The women I know, apparently, do not know anyone in the IoT, EV or mobile devices space. (unlikely).
I have written about some of the issues around mentorship and STEM here— https://medium.com/@32ATPs/my-deep-personal-ambivalence-of-the-power-of-mentorship-in-stem-fields-6ca70e4e24ce#.se0a2ciq6
Women usually don’t have 1) the connections 2) the power 3) the money to help. If they have achieved those things, they have typically “monetized” their knowledge and connections and are protective of their business model. (I get it, you can’t give the product away for free).
Furthermore, when women get funded by other women they tend to be mommy businesses or have (mainly) female markets. I see business after business get funded for more fertility monitors, new pregnancy tests, dating apps, clothing marketplaces, or some new luxury brand of X, Y, Z (soap, shampoo, diaper bag etc), or have “social” missions at their heart.
Good for those gals, I would never deny anyone who is doing well and getting funded that opportunity! But, it is disappointing to me that someone like me, who has fantastic proof of concept data and the potential for a humungous market, all while being able to bring manufacturing back home (we are green! non toxic! we use sugar and enzymes!) can not get any traction……. I keep hearing “I would support this, but I don’t want to be first in...”
Three last anecdotes.
~I was mentoring a younger woman, just starting in the graphene space, and she was helping me too, and I told her everything I know, and somewhere in the middle she stopped me and said “do you think you should really be telling me this.. I mean, couldn’t some people consider us to be competitors?” Wow, I was blown away. I mean, there is so much room in the world. If I succeed, it will NOT be because I didn’t help someone else up. This same woman posted a survey (she wants to better understand the potential needs of customers) and has repeatedly posted it, begging for respondents — I think she has maybe gotten 2–3 responses. https://docs.google.com/a/32atps.com/forms/d/1JeryJ5CGyifakpjl3-swAixaJ1giFjmPtB0mKF-QHgE/viewform?c=0&w=1. If this wasn’t tl; dr and you happen to need use energy go help her out!!! as a matter of fact, I need to talk to you as well, so email me too at firstname.lastname@example.org
~ I was recently approached by a woman with a STEM product, who wanted to interview me. GREAT! I followed up with her three times… and nothing but vague promises and apologies.
~Lastly, one time I asked to talk to moms with kids in Montessori type schools for startup #2 EduPaper Products- I received probably about 5 responses but then no one followed through to schedule with me.
****the author of this comment is currently (re) writing an SBIR and needs support, if you can help us, please give us a shoutout****