This post was written by woman entrepreneur and VV GROW Alumna Ana Cecilia Flores, Co-Founder and CMO of the Webee Corporation, who recently leveraged her key learnings from the Fellowship to apply for – and win – the competitive Female Founders Competition.
July 2020 – Throughout my participation in the VV GROW Fellowship in 2019, the program helped me reinforce my organization’s mission and strengthen my sense of purpose to build up other organizations that serve a greater good. I took on the processes of critically analyzing the revenue streams for my company, Webee, as well as working on the core strategies that led us to improve our execution and achieve our goals. Thanks to the program and these processes, I was much better equipped to run and grow my company, and had the tools to to apply to, and win, the Female Founders Competition.
After analyzing our revenue streams with VV GROW, we realized we needed to cut some very profitable deals that were not aligned with our long-term growth strategy. As a growing company, you often lose sight of how much effort it takes to acquire and sustain a client over time and how that affects and can take time from the longer-term plan. We needed to streamline our efforts and maximize resources through a recurrent revenue model. And yes, what it meant in the short term was that we needed to let some clients (and revenue) go.
VV GROW also helped me review and formulate core strategies to focus on what is more important to enable growth. It might seem like an obvious thing to do, but when you are running a cutting-edge startup, you don’t necessarily have all the resources to tackle every daily challenges, and the constant changes and shifts in priorities make it easy to focus the execution on what is most urgent rather than the strategic actions that will truly trigger exponential growth. Learning practical ways to put those strategies in motion helped us get the company exactly where it needed to be.
After participating in VV GROW, equipped with the key learnings I gained from the program, and with the company ready to scale, I applied to the Female Founders Competition. This is a competition run by three major venture capital firms – M12, Mayfield, and Melinda Gates’ Pivotal Venture – to identify and fund top women entrepreneurs who are leading enterprise tech startups.
I’ve always thought that the application processes for these initiatives are in themselves great exercises to ask yourself the right questions and take time to examine your business. I was confident our application was solid, with a strong purpose, a solid plan, and the right track record to achieve our goals, but I was greatly surprised when I learned I was selected as a finalist and was humbled as I went through the profiles of the other fierce female finalists.
And perhaps it was my ‘imposter syndrome’ that drove me to read the email announcing me as a winner five times! As a female entrepreneur in tech, I’ve unfortunately gotten so used to rejection, to never being “enough”, and having to always prove myself a little bit more that I couldn’t even trust the instincts that were telling me I had everything it took to win.
So, for all of the other women entrepreneurs out there, there are two main takeaways from my experience participating in VV GROW and subsequently winning the Female Founders Competition on how to overcome challenges and growing pains in a fast speed cutting-edge technology startup:
- Be confident and never be afraid to show your passion.
- Work hard on your plan, know your business, and – if you are ever in doubt whether you should do it – you should, by all means, move forward. You can probably live with rejection but it will be very hard for you to live with the doubt.
VV GROW helped me take the time to evaluate and reconstruct critical areas of our business that fostered more sustainable growth and build my confidence as a woman entrepreneur, woman in tech, and woman leader to take our business to the next level.
The Vital Voices GROW Fellowship (VV GROW) is a leading global accelerator program for women owners of small and medium sized businesses. Supported by Fedex and the Argidius Foundation, the program includes customized business skills training, leadership development, technical assistance, and access to networks. Through online and in-person trainings, Fellows focus on strategy and long-term business value, and put those concepts to work with action-oriented strategic plans to grow their businesses. They amplify their role as leaders in their businesses and communities by creating jobs, stimulating long-term economic growth and producing wider social benefits.