Tag: rewards

Some smart investors are focusing on women—and reaping the rewards

Lana Cuthbertson (from left) of Areto Labs, Bobbie Racette of Virtual Gurus and Shelley Kuipers of The51Lana Cuthbertson (from left) of Areto Labs, Bobbie Racette of Virtual Gurus and Shelley Kuipers of The51 (Images provided)

When Bobbie Racette was laid off from her administration job in 2016 during Canada’s oil and gas sector crash, the Calgary-based admin assistant struggled to find work—so she set out to create a job for herself. Today, that job is Virtual Gurus, a robust and growing company with over 40 full-time employees that matches businesses across North America with virtual assistants. But as an Indigenous woman who is also part of the LGBTQ2SIA+ community, getting her business to where it is today wasn’t without its challenges.

“I had $300 in my pocket when I started,” she says. “It took two years to close [our Series A funding round], because nobody would invest in me. I went through 170 investors who said no, that we’re not scalable, even though we were pushing over a million in revenue.”

Racette isn’t the only female founder to come up against a lack of access to venture funding. Women-led startups account for approximately 17.5 per cent of all private-sector businesses in Canada, yet received 2.3 per cent of total VC funding worldwide in 2020 (down from 2.9 per cent the year prior), according to Crunchbase. And for women who also belong to other marginalized groups, that statistic is even lower. When Virtual Gurus secured $8.4 million in Series A funding, Racette became the first Indigenous woman in Canadian tech to close a Series A round of funding. Meanwhile, data shows that Black female founders receive less than 0.35 per cent of total funding dollars in the U.S.—despite being among the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs.

And now, amid the economic slowdown in the tech sector, which is seeing mass layoffs across the board, investors are pulling