The UK’s female startup revolution

Women entrepreneurs are thriving. The UK has witnessed a rapid rise in the number of start-ups in recent years, and the number of new female entrepreneurs in the UK has risen far faster than men in the past decade.  It also seems investment funding is more forthcoming than ever before.

The boom in female startups

According to a study from Wayra UK – a Telefonica-owned startup accelerator that helps entrepreneurs to grow business – women make up almost a third of the startup population in the UK.

And UK women are five times more likely to start up a business than their US-based peers.

The study analysed inherent and acquired DNA within 222 early stage UK startups and compared them with other major startup ‘ecosystems’, such as the US.

And start ups are 36% more likely to have a female head than FTSE 100 companies.

London calling

London was identified as a hotspot for female startups – the capital not only attracts more funding and a higher number of highly skilled and educated workers than anywhere in the UK, it’s also three times more likely to have women working in its startup community than Silicon Valley.

In addition, those in startups are twice as likely to be under 36 and ten times more likely to be from an ethnicity other than white and Asian.

And ethnic and cultural diversity is also alive and well in the startup community, with 660% of those in startups able to speak another language, while 70% work in teams with different backgrounds to them.

Financing is improving

It’s not a conversation we should still be having in 2019, but it seems female entrepreneurs face discrimination when trying to raise money from venture capitalists. The good news is, attitudes appear to be changing, at least for investments in the very early stages.

A recent study carried  out between the University of British Columbia and Stanford University, found that female entrepreneurs were getting favorable responses from venture capitalists, when making cold investment pitches.

The study involved sending out more than 80,000 pitch emails introducing “promising but fictitious” startups to 28,000 venture capitalists and angel investors. The pitches that came from entrepreneurs who had obviously female names received a 6% higher rate of interested replies than men.

Will Gornall, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business and one of the lead authors of the study, was surprised by the results, and said: “We expected to find discrimination against women, based on previous the very skewed gender ratio in VC, research showing discrimination against women, and the recent string of publicized incidents of harassment.”

Although a positive response doesn’t mean investment is guaranteed, but it’s certainly promising, and an encouraging sign that the financing environment for female entrepreneurs could be getting better.

Again though, we really shouldn’t still be having a conversation about gender in 2019.

How to fund your female startup

Funding is crucial to starting and growing a business. But females can find funding harder to source than males.

A recent report from the Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship 2023 found that only 14% of angel investors in the UK are female. And this has an effect on the number of women who can start their own business.

So we’ve pulled together some of the best women-only business grants that are currently available:

  • Women in Innovation Awards – Run by Innovate UK and part of UK Research and Innovation, the Women in Innovation Award offers 50 awards to women business owners across the UK.
  • Cartier Women’s Initiative – This worldwide scheme offers grants in the following sectors – Science & Technology Pioneer Award; Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award; Impact Awards and Regional Awards
  • Hatch enterprise – Graduates on the New Founder Programme can get a grant up to £1,000, while graduates on the New Founder Incubator Programme can apply for a grant of up to £5,000

It’s also worth seeing what other business grants are available. Here’s a list of the best small business grants for 2023.

How can a conference call help your startup?

When starting a business, you want to keep your overheads as low as possible. This could mean working remotely or running your business from home to cut down on office or shop rental costs. If so, then a conference call can help you meet with customers, employees, or clients without leaving your living room.

All you need to get started is an email address and a phone, and you can quickly set up a call for up to 100 participants from anywhere in the world.