According to recent studies, female entrepreneurship has seen its greatest increase in the last 20 years. However, women entrepreneurs and female founders are still a few compared to their male counterpart.
In this context, what does it mean to be a woman and an entrepreneur? Through the experience of Estrella Jaramillo, creator of Bwom – an app focused on promoting healthy habits among women – we try to answer this question.
This Spaniard, besides being an IE alumni, was a finalist of the category “Women Inspiring Women” in the 2017 edition of the EPIC awards. From her story, we explore the four ideas that we hope will inspire all the female entrepreneurs in the IE community.
1.- Trust your instinct – and follow it!
“I trained to become an employee, but after my time at IE I began to see other work options that were better suited to my personality and aspirations,” says Estrella in her profile for the EPIC awards. Therefore, it seems fundamental to focus on finding experiences that provide the tools to promote the creation of new businesses, while fostering individuals to have different ways of doing things.
After her first professional experiences – more traditional ones, within an office structure and established schedules -, Estrella understood that in such spaces “I could not create a lifestyle adapted to my needs, my strengths and my personality”.
It would seem that one of the first steps in finding a way as an entrepreneur is to dare to listen to what the instinct itself demands and, more importantly, to trust that it is normal to want to draw a different and challenging path.
2.- Understand the context – and work to change it!
Managing expectations and adjusting action plans to the working environment seems to be a healthy way to tackle the obstacles that any entrepreneur will find along the way.
From Estrella’s view, the female entrepreneurship ecosystem has two fundamental challenges. On the one hand, the need for regulations to grant the necessary resources to be able to carry out a family and a company at the same time. But, equally as important, the need to understand that “still today there is lower inclination to finance women, especially if their projects focus exclusively on women’s needs”, she says.
The fact is that, besides people’s perception, Estrella’s ideas are translated into concrete figures. Fortune reported in March of this year that, in 2016, venture capital invested 58.2 billion dollars in male funded companies. In contrast, women-owned businesses received barely 1.46 billion dollars over the same period.
3.- Find your own place – even if that means taking big risks!
But why not start her business in her native Spain? If female entrepreneurship is already facing so many challenges, why not look for opportunities in familiar contexts and markets? Instead, Estrella and her team created Bwom under the concept of an international company. With this idea in mind, the United States was undoubtedly a market that, while very competitive, offered them “a community of open-minded dreamers with a desire to change things that seems common to all of those who come to New York City and San Francisco.”
Conceived as a mobile app, Bwom also meets the needs of a country with a complex health system, a scenario that made the business idea much more viable.
4.- Take care of yourself – no excuses!
Last but not least, organization skills and balance are the pillars that have accompanied Estrella in her career. Exercising 3 times a week -no matter where the business life takes you- is as important as having a solid support network of entrepreneurs who share similar experiences with you. “My project is personal,” says this IE alumni and adds, “when everything goes great, being an entrepreneur is wonderful. But when hard times come, having people around who are going through the same thing as you is of vital importance”, she concludes.
Finally, do you know more stories about women that can inspire our IE community? If so, share it in the comments!