Helping Female Founders close the Funding Gap, Lisa Wang of SheWorx
It was great to welcome Lisa Wang, CoFounder of SheWorx on our latest episode who is a force to be reckoned. As a four-time national champion in gymnastics and inductee into US hall of fame, she grew up from an early age with an intense focus on priorities and an ability to structure her goals. However, gymnastics is a zero sum game, meaning that there really is only one gold medal winner.
The extremely competitive environment was also toxic in its own way. Imagine your best friends are also your competition always, your closest friends are the people that want you to fail.
In fact, it wasn’t until she had left gymnastics that she realized that true friendship was about support vs competition. It was an indelible moment that left an impression... when her new friend was actually sincerely happy that she had landed a prestigious wall street job.
While arduous, competitive, and challenging, Lisa loved the artistry of gymnastics and left with lessons in the power of grit and perseverance. Those tools helped her gain huge achievements and success in gymnastics, but it was after her leaving her gymnastics career that another journey began. A journey in search of passion and with many learnings along the way. One of those early learnings was coming to an understand that success and happiness are not directly correlated and notching up tons of external achievements doesn’t necessarily lead to happiness.
Lisa’s journey too her to Yale, where she continued to seek a new passion, this time an academic one. Finding your passion and in Lisa’s case, her 2nd passion is not an easy task. “It’s not something you can just snap your fingers and make happen” says Lisa ...she knew it would take time. So while attending Yale, she dabbled and experimented with 8 different majors. She found her academic passion to be a love for words and ended up with a fellowship in China to study the language and do research. That research led to a job offer on Wall Street where she worked for a couple of years. However, she never really had her heart in the job. It was a watershed moment was when her boss asked her what her level of happiness was on a scale of 1-10 and she answered 6. It made her realize that she needed to change direction again. From there, Lisa explored her passions for wine and food and that eventually led to building her first startup, Fooze and getting accepted into an accelerator. It was her experience as founder and more importantly the bias she encountered while fund-raising that made her realize that gender bias does in fact play a role in a female founder’s ability to succeed.
Lisa’s unique journey from gymnast to entrepreneur is a fascinating one and her foundation of hard work and diligence has served her well. She went from a life where everyone told her what she needed to do “down to the pointed foot” to one of freedom and liberation that she embraced with excitement and openness, taking up a new attitude of “why not” and continued to try new things.
After a nine year search and many lessons along the way, Lisa realized that her true passion was making people feel connected and helping women feel like they are “good enough”. This is something she herself struggled with, the concept of “enoughness” which for her was a product of numerous factors.. from her highly competitive career in gymnastics, to having an embedded immigrant value system of hard work, and a focus on external achievements to feel fulfilled. It is a concept that many of us can relate to and also struggle with. It was with that realization and understanding of her true passion that Lisa came to found SheWorx which is a community support system built for women entrepreneurs. SheWorx's mission to celebrate and empower women which they do through connecting female entrepreneurs with top mentors to create actionable business strategies to build and scale successful companies.
SheWorx is founded on its Triple A values of Ambition, Action and Altruism encouraging its members to dream big, take action and give back. Events are structured to be collaborative vs competitive and each investor is seated at a table with multiple founders where they present their companies and get feedback on their pitch or any particular business challenges they are confronting. And the results are impactful with 25% of women receiving follow on investor meetings.
Listening to Lisa’s story, I am reminded that sometimes our careers can often take a winding path but when we come to the place of living our authentic selves and for a higher purpose, the universe will work to support us. Congrats to Lisa on changing the game for female founders and making progress on closing the funding gaps that exist.
Have a listen, Lisa’s awesome!