Anna Palmer has her "horror story," and the CEO and co-founder of multiple start-up companies didn't have to wait long.
"At my very first venture-funding meeting, I sat across the table from an investor who looked at my resume, saw Harvard Law but no MBA or background in finance, and said, 'What are you, just pretty to look at?'"
Jill Layfield, CEO of high-end women's shoe brand Tamara Mellon, one of 21 companies on the 2018 CNBC Upstart 100 list with either a female founder or CEO, recalled a moment during the company's recent $24 million Series B fundraising when she could "see the disconnect" happening on the faces of the men sitting across the table from her. "They said, 'Maybe we will bring in a female fashion consultant to help us understand, or I will ask my wife tonight at dinner."
Palmer, too, remembers "pitching the wife or assistant on a conference call because the person across the table just didn't get it," and neither she nor Layfield were about to wait for the "wife's" analysis before walking away from the VC.
They are among the female founders focusing more on the gender gap in venture capital. And they aren't the only ones. Female founders and CEOs, female venture capitalists, and powerful figures such as Melinda Gates are banding together to raise more money for female-run companies, raise it through more diverse venture firms, build what they believe will be a new crop of billion-dollar businesses across a set of sectors from consumer to robotics and medicine, and hold on to more of the start-up equity that is currently being banked by the rich boys network of Silicon Valley.