Cindy Gallop To Female Founders: “Let’s Design Our Own Playing Field”

Cindy Gallop To Female Founders: “Let’s Design Our Own Playing Field”

Gender equality has come a long way, but there’s one area we’re only just starting to talk about, and maybe it’s the most important area of all: money.

Recent pay gap figures from the (WGEA) show that a significant wage gap remains between genders; this becomes particularly high when we zoom in on the powerful world of big tech. Things are even worse in the female founder space: just two per cent of venture capital goes to women, and even less goes to women of colour.

If money makes the world go round, then what does this say about the world we are creating?

It’s something that Cindy Gallop, a Cannes Lion jury president and founder of sextech company MakeLoveNotPorn, is keen to change.

Whilst much thought leadership on why so little funding goes to women puts the onus on female founders (‘you need to be more assertive, etc.’), Gallop firmly places the blame at the feet of male investors.

“Most male investors are physically incapable of writing a cheque to a woman,” she told B&T.

“White men get funded on potential”

For Gallop, unequal funding is largely due to the lens through which male investors view different genders and races.

“White men get funded on potential. White women get funded on proof, and not (often) even then, and black women and people and women of colour don’t get funded”.

“It’s very easy for a white male investor to meet a white male founder and go “oh, he reminds me of myself at his age. I can see myself in him. He’s great to have a beer with. We reckon he can do this. Let’s give him $10 million”.

“It’s incredibly easy for a white man investor to write a cheque to a white man. They do it in their sleep. I’m not kidding – white men find themselves involuntarily writing cheques to white men in any meeting they’re in with white men,” Gallop jokes.

Source: Cindy Gallop on Instagram

“For white women, it’s a whole different ball game”.

Although white women are allowed in the world of VC funding, they often face a much harder time than their male counterparts, Gallop says.

“For white women, it’s ‘Have you done this long enough? Have you done this before? Well enough? We’re going to put you through the Spanish Inquisition; we’re going to grill you on every single f*cking number in your pitch deck. And we still won’t fund you at the end of it”.

“It’s a ‘whole different ball game’.”

“And women of colour don’t get funded; they can’t even make their way across the VC threshold to be rejected”.

“This is a unicorn in waiting”

The solution, Gallop says, is for investors to shift their mindset before they meet with founders.

“I say to white male investors – do this one very simple exercise. The next time you’re either in a pitch meeting with a female founder, or you are going through a deck of female founders sent to you before you go into that meeting, say to yourself ‘This is a unicorn in waiting, this woman is a f*cking amazing founder’. Her startup is going to make me a sh*t tonne of money. Then have the meeting and listen to the pitch or read the pitch deck with that mindset”.

Is investment still a man’s world?

So, how can women secure funding?

So, what is the solution to securing funding? Gallop recommends looking for investment outside of traditional VC funding.

“I put what I’m doing out there all the time across all my social channels”.

“I have to make synaptic connections happen that will attract those investments to me”.

This is partly due to the polarising nature of her business, she explains.

“Your willingness to fund MakeLoveNotP*rn is entirely a function of your sexual journey. Your lens on sex and sexuality has been shaped by your own experience of it. I have no way to research and target that. Sex is the area where you cannot tell from the outside what anybody thinks on the inside – the people who you think will get it don’t, and the people who look like complete prudes do.”


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Gallop says angel investors and family offices can also be ” great ways” to secure funding.

“There are family offices where the next generation is getting to influence the kinds of companies they invest in. And women are more and more operating influence within family offices as well”.

For Gallop, it isn’t about trying to fit into the rules of the world of investment but rather making your own rules.

“I encourage female founders to not play on the men’s playing field, but instead to design our own playing field – me deciding to define and pioneer sex-tech was part of that”.

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