Women Entrepreneurs Gain Ground, But Still Lack Financing, They Say

By Judy Newman
The Wisconsin State Journal

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Abigail Barnes, CEO of Allergy Amulet, a portable food allergen detection device says very few women are partners in venture capital firms in Madison and the pool of angel (individual investor) capital supporting female entrepreneurs in the Midwest is also “painfully small.”

The Wisconsin State Journal

“Women are the entrepreneurial leaders in Madison.”

That’s what Amy Gannon said, after the Doyenne Group’s 5X5X5 pitch contest on Wednesday — part of the eight-day Forward Festival celebrating entrepreneurship and innovation.

But at least two female CEOs in Madison say in the larger scheme of things, women entrepreneurs still have a lot of ground to make up — particularly, women of color.

“While I agree it’s been a banner year for women, in general and in Madison, female entrepreneurs still face steep challenges in the startup space — especially in tech,” said Abigail Barnes, CEO of Allergy Amulet, a portable food allergen detection device.

Very few women are partners in venture capital firms in Madison and the pool of angel (individual investor) capital supporting female entrepreneurs in the Midwest is also “painfully small,” Barnes said.

For black women, several new funds have been established on a national basis to help black entrepreneurs, but most target tech startups, said entrepreneur Sabrina (“Heymiss Progress”) Madison. The types of businesses black women start often focus on hair care and personal products, and generally don’t qualify for funding, she said.

Doyenne co-founders Gannon and Heather Wentler said, though, women in the Madison area have made great strides in terms of their visibility, acceptance and involvement as entrepreneurs.

Gannon and Wentler created Doyenne in 2012 to support and mentor women who wanted to start and grow businesses here.

At the Forward Technology Festival they attended six years ago — a forerunner to Forward Fest — Doyenne hosted a panel of women entrepreneurs.

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