Tackling Motherhood While Running a Startup

BY Julie VerHage-Greenberg

| May 11, 2022

Hi all, Julie here. 

On May 2, we hosted our first Twitter Spaces, and the topic was exploring starting a company while also being a mom. Each of these are challenging on their own, and together they present a new unique challenge but loads of possibilities. Along with our founder, Stephany Kirkpatrick, we had Alloy Co-Founder Laura Spiekerman and Inspired Capital Founder Alexa von Tobel to discuss the topic. 

The full ~30 minute recording can be found here, but below are some points from the conversation that I wanted to highlight.  

Motherhood and Starting a Company Can Happen at Any Time

Some of our panelists started companies before they were pregnant, some started them in the midst of selling their company in a successful exit, and others decided to start companies after having kids. There is no right or wrong answer here, but each situation presents different choices that need to be made. 

Take Alexa for example. Less than a week after signing papers selling her first company, LearnVest, to Northwestern Mutual, she gave birth to her firstborn. She said that being pregnant made it so she could focus on the things that mattered, and gave her a lot of clarity in a very important time of her life. 

Or take Laura, who was raising Alloy’s Series B round of funding while in her second trimester. She knows what it’s like to run a company before having kids, while being pregnant and while having a newborn. All of that has given her a very unique perspective that sets her apart. 

And then of course take Stephany, who has two children under 10 years old and had to make sure that founding a company was something that her whole family was on board with. 

Did I mention that all of these women have spouses that work as well? That’s true teamwork and commitment right there. 

The Latest Data

We also dove into some of the recent stats around female founded companies. Huge shoutout to Female Founders Fund for doing their annual reviews and giving us loads of information on the current state of play. Here are some things that stood out to us: 

  • VC funding to female founders continues to hover at a disappointing 2% but there are silver linings. 
  • In 2021, 3,871 venture capital-funded deals for female-founded startups raised $54.6B in funding, compared with $22.6B invested across 2,641 deals in 2020. 
  • When FFF began reporting on this data in 2013, only $6.8B was invested across 1,600 deals. 
  • There were a number of successful exits for female founded companies in 2021: 
    • Vimeo, Nextdoor, Clear, 23andMe, FIGS, Bumble, Rent the Runway all went public.  
    • Spanx, Hello Sunshine, Billie, Modern Fertility, NuOrder were all acquired. 
  • As of 3Q 2021, nearly $59B in exit value was generated by female founded companies, 143.6% higher than 2020’s level, while the overall market is up 101.5%.

The Benefits of Being Both a Mother and a Founder

So often, the conversation around being both of these things has a negative connotation. “It must be so hard to juggle both!” “Are you sure you can handle all of that?” “Are these taking away from how good you can be at either of them?” 

This is why I wanted to end the conversation by asking all three of the panelists the benefits of doing both of these things at the same time. The main benefits they chose to dive into were being forced to become the best version of themselves, focusing only on what matters, and gaining patience and empathy. 

Did we miss anything? Let us know! And reach out if there are other topics you’d love for us to dive into on Twitter or on our blog. 

Hope everyone had a great Mother’s Day!

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