Stories - EIC Women Leadership Programme: 5 tips and tricks to master negotiation skills and close the gender gap in the fundraising process
The EIC Women Leadership Programme (WLP) is already in full force after its official launch on 7 October 2021. Among the different activities provided by the EIC WLP, including Mentoring and Coaching, we are also offering a set of training events. EIC WLP's last training took place on 10 November, in partnership with EBAN, and it was focused on "How Early-Stage Fundraising will Help you Master your Decision-Making and Negotiation Skills".
To celebrate the Women Entrepreneurship Day held every year on 19 November and learn more about the female experience at the negotiation table, we sat down with two female leaders and participants of the programme to talk about their tips and tricks to master the fundraising process.
When a startup is trying to grow, fundraising is crucial to every company development and establishment. That's why the EIC WLP has organised its 2nd Training event focusing on fundraising and negotiation skills. During more than two hours, Selma Prodanovic, Vice President of EBAN, shared her insights on the fundraising process, explaining how female leaders can make better decisions and negotiate in front of business angels and other relevant stakeholders.
To mark the Women Entrepreneurship Day nothing better than to share the testimonials of two good examples of female entrepreneurs closing the gender gap in the business arena. At the end of our 2nd Training session, we had the opportunity to talk with two EIC WLP participants, Joana Cardoso Vaz, Chief Scientific and Technical Officer of Ophiomics, and Catherine Schreiber, Deputy CEO and COO of ADVITOS, and we discovered their main takeaways and advices in what concerns negotiation.
#1. Be prepared
Catherine Schreiber: "Take time and prepare a convincing pitch. You can already prepare some key points that you'd like to present to describe your company and your product."
Joana Cardoso Vaz: "Do not improvise and think beforehand about what you want to say. You can write it down, I usually do that, and it helps me structure my speech. You should be clear and don't improvise, for that you can think in advance about the questions that may arise, in that way you'll be prepared to answer them more easily."
Catherine: "Make yourself familiar with the terms and the terms sheets, so you can be aware of terms that come along. And even take a lawyer with you to represent you because you have very experienced parties on the other side of a pitch or negotiation. Like this, you can have a more even playing field."
#2. Practice makes perfect
Joana: "I would say that we should practice a lot, and then it's easier to know where to direct the pitch while we're doing it."
Catherine: "Practice it! Practice presenting it and also do a practice Q&A with your family and friends, for example. This gives you confidence, and you also become faster and more experienced in answering some potential questions. This will also help you to present yourself more competently and confidently."
#3. Don't be discouraged by the "no's."
Joana: "Most of the time, you get a no, and that's never easy, but the experience of doing it is helping you get better!"
Catherine: "Contact as many investors as you can. Another company founder has told me that it took him, 100 investors, to find the one. Do not be discouraged by the number of investors you have to approach, and if you get a "no", do not take it personally. Sometimes it's not the right timing, or the investors already have a similar company in their portfolio. There are several reasons for rejection that don't have anything to do with the founder of the company, and I think this is also very important to consider."
Besides these 3 main wisdom ingredients, our EIC WLP participants also highlighted other tips and tricks that can be useful to other female peers taking their first steps in the business negotiation field.
#4. Don’t forget to exercise
The participation in workshops, such as the Training Event with EBAN, have improved Catherine's performance with challenging discussions: "I took a negotiation workshop beforehand, and I think that helped me a lot. That was something that I recently learned that we could do to understand the psychology behind it better".
Catherine also underlined the importance of having "measures of resilience": "When you start, it's all new and exciting, you set your milestones, and you start to reach them. But as time goes by, the more you grow, and as you have more people on your payroll, the more responsibility you also feel. I found it helpful to connect with other founders or CEOs, who are in similar stages to talk about my challenges". She added that female leaders can also benefit from professional support: "In situations that are psychologically challenging or of high pressure, it is also good to talk with a mentor or coach, that helps a lot to build my resilience.".
#5.Trust in your pitching skills
Joana noted that when it comes to presenting their innovation, the CEOs will always be the best persons to do it: "I think that's it because if you are pitching, you should know what you're talking about. You are the person who knows best the company and the product you are trying to sell to the investors, so as long as you are prepared, things will go smoothly.".
About the EIC Women Leadership Programme
The EIC Women Leadership Programme (WLP) aims to enhance skills and promote networking for women in the EIC Community. The EIC seeks to increase the number of women-led companies created and succeeding in business and increase diversity in innovation and tech. The EIC WLP will also establish partnerships with experienced European Female organisations to deliver training and networking events beyond its own network, bringing unique and novel opportunities.
For additional information, please refer to our helpdesk (please choose 'EIC Women Leadership Programme' as the subject).