Over the last five years, we have seen entrepreneurship grow exponentially in South Florida and beyond. Through the pandemic, many people decided that while working at home, it was finally time to venture off into side-hustle territory to eventually have a self-sustaining business and revenue-generating enough to leave corporate America for good. Women, especially Black women, are attracted to a lifestyle of entrepreneurship for many reasons. The ability to create your schedule, the “be your own boss” narrative, the opportunity to fast-track financial freedom on your terms are all extremely appealing. But perhaps the biggest reason is that many corporate positions, albeit prestigious in some cases, were not shoes designed for Black Women to fill. And we hear this story over and over at the Flourish Media Conference, where women-owned businesses, particularly BIPOC women, come to connect, learn, grow and pitch.
Women have expressed the lack of representation in board rooms. They have voiced their frustration over seats at the table they are still not allowed to fill. So, entrepreneurship affords them a chance to build their table and pull their chair up to it. Entrepreneurship doesn’t come without its own set of challenges. Inc. reports that Black women are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs. However, venture capital statistics won’t reflect that as they struggle even to get 1% of the market share in terms of investment. As Project Diane notes, Black women-owned businesses make up only .27% of venture capital investments made in 2018. The lowest of all. In learning this, the Flourish Media Conference was created.
Behind the Leaf, a 501c3 Organization founded by myself and Vivian Olodun, seeks to remedy the lack of access to capital for Black Women-Owned Businesses. Once a year, we host the Flourish Media Conference, where women can pitch for up to $15,000,000 in venture capital. What makes FMC different is that the pitch is not a competition. Instead, it is pot available for all to dip in.
In the last five years, here are four things we have learned:
- Most women don’t know that Venture Capital is available, so they don’t pursue it. Ambition is always predicated on exposure. We find that most just have never been exposed to it as an opportunity. So we pride ourselves on being a catalyst for that level of exposure and awareness.
- Many women think that Venture Capital is the ONLY way to grow and scale. It is not. At the Conference, we make sure to offer education on various ways they can fund their business. We want entrepreneurs to know how to access capital through investments, lines of credit, crowdfunding, and more!
- Angel Investors want to see hard numbers before they invest. We all love a dream! But dreams are rarely enough to push an investor to make money moves. You need to have a solid pitch deck that outlines the dollars and cents for it to make sense.
- Thinking BIG doesn’t come naturally. When our attendees put their pitch decks together, we notice that they often undercut their numbers and don’t ask for enough. There is a mindset that says that asking for a little will give you a higher chance to get funding. Not the case. Investors are smart. They know how much it costs to do a particular thing. If it costs $1,000,000, please ask for that.
Over the last five years, we have seen many businesses come through our doors, pitch on our stage, and find success in funding. For example, a business that pitched in 2018 got feedback from our investors, revamped her pitch, and ended up landing a sweet deal on Shark Tank not long after. Another from 2020 was recently featured on Jada Pinkett Smith’s Red Table Talk Show. And there have been dozens more successes in between. The Flourish Media Conference has served as a springboard for many women of color in the entrepreneurial space, and we are excited to see it continue to do that in the years to come.
The Flourish Media Conference is held in February each year. For tickets or to apply to pitch, please visit www.flourishmediaconference.com.
Dr. Tracy Timberlake, a mindset and business coach (pictured above), helps entrepreneurs, leaders and influencers around the world understand the massive impact they can create by showing up fully in the digital space and gives them the tools that empower them to do so. Timberlake-instagram.com/tracytimberlake.
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