I had been excited about my “Fireside Chat” with Jan Ryan for months. Her wisdom and wealth of knowledge on startups, especially from the perspective of a female founder, was also an incredible way to kick off the final day of our 6th annual Global Roundup conference.
Jan is a self-described “Startup Junkie” who has been the CEO and/or Founder of multiple successful companies, many of which have exited. She has also co-launched the Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Initiative with Kendra Scott, part of the strong work she does in helping women founders launch companies.
A story from our talk illustrates why helping women founders is so important. Some time ago, Jan introduced a founder she’d been working with to an angel investor, who is male. When Jan followed up to see how the meeting had gone, the investor said,
“Great. I was surprised because she didn’t look like an entrepreneur.”
“And what exactly does an entrepreneur look like?” Jan asked.
And the investor realized he’d goofed, volunteering that entrepreneurs looked like, well…men.
“And this guy is ‘woke’ too,” said Jan.
Much of our talk centered on the difficulties that women face when founding a company, as well as how to overcome these challenges.
“Women tend to be perfectionists,” says Jan. “Sometimes we just need to get out there and not worry about everything being perfect.”
According to Jan, this perfectionist bend doesn’t just hold women back from pitching their company to investors, but makes it more difficult to build community. It’s difficult for mentors, advisors, and connectors to help someone out if they’re not willing to show vulnerability. Jan feels that being a perfectionist can make it hard for these crucial community members to buy in and champion promising young women founders.
Jan’s advice? Don’t worry about getting everything perfect and just be you.
There are many more great stories and tidbits in our talk, and we hope you love it.