Response from Jennifer Fitzgerald, CEO and co-founder of PolicyGenius, on Quora.
The biggest challenge that women face when they are presenting their first funding is a familiar problem for most women in the technology and insurance sectors, where my company is squarely positioned – you will probably be the only woman in the room. When I launchedwith my co-founder in 2014, I was one of the 500 founders of female startups. This means that you will spend most of your time talking to someone who may not understand where you are from and the problem you are trying to solve.
One of my favorite anecdotes about pitching is when a VC – a young, single, rich, and white man – asked if people really needed a life insurance. He said that he did not believe in the case because no one ever tried to sell him life insurance. Despite the fact that life insurance is a massive industry (and some of the largest US companies are life insurers), he simply did not understand it because it did not interest him not (see also confirmation bias). It probably never bought tampons either, but I can assure it that there is a big market for those too.
But the launching process was a valuable reminder of the power to focus on objective performance and to know my stuff. Many VCs will not understand where you come from, but they will understand market growth opportunities and potential sales. It's hard to argue with metrics, and as much as you do not like doing spreadsheets and PowerPoint charts, they're very helpful in getting your message across.
By the time we were ready to increase our Series A, I focused on the story behind our growth and how it was integrating into the market. So, even if I challenge anyone to participate in a spreadsheet competition, it's also very helpful to frame your presentation around the story of your business and your target audience. If you know that you are entering a men's room, make it a story to which they can identify before going through the numbers (even if you sell stamps in a new and creative way , what some new companies are doing!
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