The venture capital world is dominated by men—and for companies led by women, especially companies creating products FOR women, pitching to these male investors can be a demoralizing experience. Women sitting on billion-dollar ideas aren’t taken seriously simply because the people writing the checks don’t understand their experience.
Gizmodo spoke with three of these women about their products and their experiences pitching to investors. Janica Alvarez is the CEO of Naya Health, a company that makes a smart breast pump. Alvarez said that at a pitch event, investors recoiled when she passed around the breast pump. Alvarez and her husband initially raised $6.5 million, according to Bloomberg, but when the funding stalled, they had to turn to Kickstarter. Meanwhile, investment firms funneled over a hundred million into the now defunct Juicero.
And it’s not just products for mothers that venture capitalists don’t seem to care about. Gizmodo also spoke with Sophia Yen, CEO of Pandia Health, a startup that automates birth control delivery and refills. Yen noted that older white male VCs just don’t get what she’s trying to sell.
BeautyLynk CEO Rica Elysee also struggles to get through to male VCs when pitching her company, an online platform that connects customers with beauty professionals and focuses on men and women of color.
“Men don’t generally understand what I’m doing,” Elysee said. “When you think about how much of the money is controlled by people that don’t understand that experience, then you have to reshift and start thinking, ‘So how can I make this easier for them to understand?’” Elysee has started pitching to investors using Silicon Valley buzzwords. To date, all of her angel investors are women.