The stereotypical view of coworking spaces and entrepreneurs are similar — men in their 30s looking to “build something the world has never seen before.” Unfortunately, while we see these tropes on TV, they are mostly accurate to our reality.
Barbara Sprenger, CEO of flexible workspace network The Satellite Centers and cloud-based coworking space software firm Satellite DeskWorks, started her first startup in the 1980s after an employer said women would not be accepted in technical sales.
In 2008, Sprenger and her partner decided to use their startup, manufacturing and operations backgrounds to create a business that allowed people to work closer to home. At the core of this business was offering technology-enabled, automated work centers outside of major cities along with management software that made tracking and automation seamless.
Although the company’s presentation and services were tried and true, funding was still not coming through. The response? Unironically get a 30-year-old frontman to fuel funding.
Instead of appeasing the crowd that could not wrap their heads around a woman in her 40s having a product that is reliable, Sprenger focused on growing her business organically.
While women start businesses at twice the rate of men, they got only 2% of VC dollars in 2017. Even more, despite black women being the most educated group in the U.S., they only received about 0.2% of VC funding.
It is past time to acknowledge the inconsistency between men and women founders. Having a diversity of ethnicities, ages and genders in VC management and boards could help bring this model to the present day, or at the very least, the 1980s.