Lisa Wang spent four years building SheWorx, a female entrepreneur networking group and community that helped nearly 20,000 women entrepreneurs build and scale their companies. Now, the company has been acquired by the equity crowdfunding platform, Republic, with the goal of expanding their reach even further.
While SheWorx focused primarily on addressing the gender gap in venture capital funding, Republic has traditionally focused on equity crowdfunding. But Lisa tells Startups.com that her thinking about “what it actually takes to close the funding gap” for “diverse entrepreneurs” has changed during her time running SheWorx.
“If you’re going to create any significant change, you can’t keep going down the same old path you’ve always been on,” Lisa says.
Equity crowdfunding is a particularly good fit for the SheWorx community, as it’s one of the few areas of startup fundraising where women actually raise more than men. While raising money from venture capitalists involves convincing a group of wealthy (usually white, usually male) investors to take a bet on your company, equity crowdfunding is about rallying your community around you. At the heart of equity of crowdfunding, Lisa points out, is the ability to do marketing. And marketing is one of the fields in the startup ecosystem where women excel.
“With venture capital, you have a couple individuals who are predicting the future,” Lisa says. “But, in the case of equity crowdfunding, the people investing are investing because they believe in you and because whatever you’re creating is going to directly benefit them. You’re creating real value, not just high growth for the sake of high growth.”
Lisa emphasizes that she’s not saying venture capital isn’t an option for anybody, but rather that it’s one of a few different possible options. Her goal with the SheWorx acquisition is to offer a “diverse array” of funding options to the community she’s built.
One of the first things Lisa did after SheWorx was acquired was take the time to enjoy her success. An acquisition is the apex of years of struggle and many founders get swept up in the activity, without actually acknowledging the achievement.
“When you’re a founder and high achiever, you never really stop to celebrate your wins,” Lisa says. “And that’s something I’ve been really bad at doing. With this acquisition, it’s the first time in my life I’ve sat back and given myself the time to congratulate myself and feel proud of what I’ve done.”
While many founders flounder after their startup is acquired, Lisa spent her time developing and running SheWorx focusing on self awareness, with the express goal of avoiding that feeling of loss after her inevitable exit. Rather than becoming one with her company, Lisa spent conscientious time figuring out her own values and beliefs independent of SheWorx.
The focus on working out her greater life’s purpose outside of the purpose of the company has made it easier to move on from “this first baby that I created,” Lisa says.
“I can confidently give it to parents who can help it grow to its next level,” she explains. “But that doesn’t mean I’ve lost myself. It’s not a loss of something that I built. It’s me building an even greater platform to build my next company on.”
While she’s not releasing full details yet, for her next step, Lisa is building a platform “for social leaders who want to get their voice out there, but haven’t had a chance to do it yet.” With a private beta launch in August (and interested people can sign up on her website), Lisa sees this next move as an extension of her work with SheWorx — but still separate.
“The purpose of this project is something that I, as Lisa Wang, am passionate about,” she says. “Not just I, as Lisa Wang, the founder of SheWorx, am passionate about.”
Emma McGowan is a full time blogger and digital nomad has been writing about startups, living with startup people, and basically breathing startups for the past five years. Emma is a regular contributor to Bustle, Startups.co, KillerStartups, and MiKandi. Her byline can also be found on Mashable, The Daily Dot's The Kernel, Mic, The Bold Italic, as well as a number of startup blogs.
Follow her on Twitter @MissEmmaMcG.