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Investor’s Perspective on “Femtech” Startup Potential

Mostly targeting social impact, it's predicted to rise within the next 2-3 years

Yenny Yusra - 20 April 2020

DailySocial observed around 12 startups with female founders or consists of female C-levels bagged funding during 2019. It is not only startups with female-oriented products but also those engaged in SaaS technology, healthtech, and social commerce.

“The fact shows two interesting points, that more women are setting up startups and more investors are looking for and investing in female-founded companies. I expect this trend to continue increasing as these two points become highlighted,” GK Plug and Play’s Director Aaron Nio said.

Although investments are usually have looked at no gender and depend on the capabilities and qualities of the founder and execution of the business model, many advantages are claimed only by female leaders.

In the Kartini Day edition, DailySocial aims to find out investor’s interests and expectations towards female startup leaders / femtech in Indonesia.

Providing social impact

femtech1

The highlight of female-founded startups is that most of them build businesses based on a social impact. Starting from a marketplace to embrace more women towards beauty services businesses and products that empower women for partners.

“We have found and have had several dialogues with female-founded startups of various categories. From social commerce, healthtech in specific areas such as genetic startups and consumer wearables to aquaculture. We looked at more women taking leadership roles to solve Indonesia’s health and social problems,” Pegasus Tech Ventures SEA Manager, Justin Jackson said.

Pegasus Tech Ventures has invested in several female-founded startups in  Indonesia. Among them are Populix (Eileen Kamtawijoyo), AwanTunai (Windy Natriavi), Hijup (Diajeng Lestari), and Infradigital (Indah Maryani).

In general, female-founded startups usually have a more organized, structured, and empathic culture.

East Ventures fully understands this potential. This venture capital company has invested in Base (Yaumi Fauziah), Greenly (Liana Gonta Widjaja), Nusantics (Sharlini Eriza Putri), Fore (Elisa Suteja), and Sociolla (Chrisanti Indiana), Nalagenetics (Astrid Irwanto & Levana Sani).

“To date, we have had around 10% of female founders in our network and we are grateful to have worked with them and expected to increase representation. They are indeed extraordinary individuals whose work deserving full respect,” East Ventures’ Partner Melisa Irene said.

Some VCs have a bias towards startups with social impact orientation due to the market is lacking or the founder is not sufficiently focused on shareholders’ demand. However, as startups with social impacts are getting successful, more and more VCs are interested to invest in a kind of startup profile.

“Female leaders are proven to be able to build a more collaborative team, transparent, produce faster with more creative solutions. They can create a more reliable and trustworthy work environment,” Karissa Adelaide from Jungle Ventures Investment Team said.

Challenge for the female leaders

Although opportunities for women leaders are increasingly diverse, there are still some difficulties to avoid, including not yet the lack of female founders or the limited access to capital obtained. On the other hand, the income earned by female leaders tends to be less than male leaders.

“Women entrepreneurs are often encountered obstacles, not only in Indonesia but also to other countries in Southeast Asia. Currently, there are still many of them who struggle to get support and capital. As a result, in the technology sector women are still underrepresented and underpaid,” Adelaide added.

Another challenge remains is the lack of government support to create opportunities for entrepreneurs and women leaders to build businesses. In a way, to encourage more young women to build a venture that targets the technology industry, not just the creative industry.

“Female founders are great role models, both in terms of new ideas, also how they create and grow their teams. We have seen strong friendships and extraordinary partnerships among women entrepreneurs. One of the most amazing features of a female founder is meeting and talking with other founders to share tips for success,” Surge and Sequoia Capital India’s Managing Director, Rajan Anandan said.

The names included in the East Ventures portfolio such as Grace Tahir (Medico), Amanda Cole (CEO of Sayurbox), Marianne Rumantir (Co-Founder Member), Cynthia Tenggara (Parenting Head Orami), and Gita Sjahrir (Co-founder Ride) have risen as a mentor and role model of female entrepreneurs in Indonesia. In fact, female leadership is not limited to the role of a high profile mentor.

“As Digitaraya observed more female founders in the community. Our portfolio consists of more than 100 beginner alumni, 54.95% have female founders or co-founders. This is truly an extraordinary achievement for women entrepreneurs, and we only expect the number to grow continuously,” Digitaraya’s Managing Director, Nicole Yap said.

Startups with at least one female founder are usually considered offering a higher level of trust and the ability to gather and manage teams to deliver results. They also tend to provide more projections based on data, accuracy, and are more open to new ideas.

Investor’s support for female leaders

Indonesia has become one of the countries in Southeast Asia that encourages many investors to invest. Various programs and activities are carried out by related parties to support the startup ecosystem. Investors claim to support and welcome the growth of female-founded startups.

“In Jungle Ventures, we realize that we can and must be able to be a catalyst. We are proud to have started and invested in several strong and innovative companies led by female founders in our portfolio, but who are we to get complacent. We have a view to empowering the entrepreneurial generation women’s technology that is innovative, motivated and has great determination in Southeast Asia and Indonesia,” Adelaide said.

Another support provided by investors is connections and communities that can help female leaders to meet and share experiences. It is considered the most ideal way to foster confidence and a strong ecosystem for women leaders.

“In Sequoia India and Surge, we intend to create a safe community for women founders to connect, work and support each other through their entrepreneurial journey. Through Sequoia Spark, we hope to help other founders gain access to the right people and care about their success. “And of course willing to invest,” Rajan said.

CyberAgent Capital Indonesia‘s Investment Analyst and Office Representative, Kevin Wijaya agreed on this. They often hold casual discussion with the local startup community. In this activity, female founders or prospective women entrepreneurs can ask about the right way to obtain funding from VC.

“To encourage more women in the technology industry, the team often suggests startups, including CyberAgent’s portfolio, to recruit more women into the organization. This act is for diversity in startups can occur positively,” Kevin added.

Activities such as competitions and partnerships with related parties can also bring up new potential innovations in the ecosystem, which is expected to be embraced by female founders. The move was carried out by Pegasus Tech Ventures to see first hand the potential for startups.

“We held a Startup World Cup Indonesia competition in partnership with Wild Digital in November 2019, and 30% of the top finalists came from female-founded startups. This number is projected to increase every year. In addition, we also see more companies actively innovate in our pipeline comes from startups female-founded startups,” Justin said.


Original article is in Indonesian, translated by Kristin Siagian

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