Why is iFundWomen Founder Karen Cahn Disrupting the Norm?
Here at Virtual Collective, we are building and growing and evolving and thriving for one key reason: our iFundWomen campaign. Thanks to the hands-on coaching and support from the team at iFundWomen our project was funded three weeks into our campaign. Which is why we felt it was the perfect time to interview iFundWomen founder Karen Cahn to find out more about what led to the founding of iFundWomen, her thoughts on digital culture and, obviously, why she thinks data matters. Enjoy!
As Karen Cahn says it, she was born on the internet.
“I was one of those Gen-Xers who was in college when email became popular,” she explains, “and I’ve only ever really worked in the internet.”
Indeed, the iFundWomen founder has spent her entire career in the digital space, working at heavy hitters like Google, YouTube, AOL, and Salon.com to name a few.
And while she enjoyed supportive communities of female co-workers who worked alongside her in media sales, she is quick to acknowledge that that sort of support wasn’t as present on the tech side of the digital world. “I know that my sisters on the engineering side had very different experiences,” Karen shares, referring to the largely male-dominated tech industry, which she says is still, in large part, a “good old bros club.”
Which, in fact, was the impetus that led her to launch iFundWomen.
She looked specifically for crowdfunding sites for women. And when she couldn’t find any, she decided to build one.
“When we did our first crowdfunding campaign in 2016, I realized how little coaching, mentoring, and information there was available to entrepreneurs in general, let alone female entrepreneurs. Crowdfunding can be confusing, and it’s hard to raise money in general, let alone with no human help to ask questions to or to guide you along the way,” she says. “Very quickly into our crowdfunding campaign, I figured out that it was just about having basic sales skills. Truly, it’s just sales. Selling people things they want to buy, through your crowdfunding campaign, as a way to fund your business. If you prepare and you have a community and coaching, then it’s do-able.”
That Kickstarter experience led her to the internet where she looked specifically for crowdfunding sites for women. And when she couldn’t find any, she decided to build one.
“Silicon Valley culture hasn’t evolved really. Sure the funding gap for female-run companies is starting to get a little bit better in the Silicon Valley specifically, but everywhere else, it’s not getting better,” she says, “and that’s exactly why we started iFundWomen.”
It's time to disrupt the norm.
We definitely consider her a trailblazer for women in the digital space, and she does too.
Not boastfully, but proudly. And passionately. And with an enthusiasm that is downright contagious.
When only 2%-6% of venture money goes to women and even less than that to women of color, iFundWomen is here to disrupt the norm and close the funding and confidence gaps.
To be clear, it’s not about chest-beating, man-hating females staking their claims.
In fact, it’s just the opposite. “Half of the backers on the platform are men who are excited about the same mission,” says Karen. “iFundWomen is not just a platform, it’s a movement, and it’s going to take all of us working together to get there.”
Data can open up a whole new world.
Karen’s mission and ours here at Virtual Collective are definitely in sync.
Hers is to help women get equal access to not only funding but to the resources and support needed to help them launch their businesses. Ours? Well, we’re excited to help women successfully launch, grow and thrive with the empowerment that data provides.
“Data is SO important! And I love what Virtual Collective is doing because you’re not dumbing it down,” Karen says, with the same level of excitement that we have as well.
“Historically, women have not been encouraged to go into STEM fields where you are trained on how to use data for every decision. We have been encouraged to go into literally any other field other than STEM, fields like fashion, beauty, lifestyle, or even public service, which is fine, but if you demystify the world of numbers and analytics and tools, and make all of that less scary and more approachable, an entirely new world opens up, and the sky’s the limit. I just think that the mission of Virtual Collective is amazing!”
And coming from an amazing woman like Karen Cahn, we will most definitely take that as a compliment!
“Data is SO important! And I love what Her Data Method is doing because you’re not dumbing it down!”
iFundWomen founder Karen Cahn spoke with Melody about what led her to launch a crowdfunding platform for women-led businesses. After completing a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds when launching her first startup she realized how little information, coaching or handholding is available to entrepreneurs in general, let alone female entrepreneurs. The crowdfunding process can be overwhelming without human help and guidance. When she was unable to find the resources that she was looking for she decided to build a crowdfunding platform for women. Now iFundWomen is here to disrupt the norm and close the funding and confidence gaps for companies like ours to launch projects that we thought not previously possible.