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Why you should see ‘She Started It’ at Fort Myers Film Festival


She Started It 01On Thursday night at 8:30, the Fort Myers Film Festival screens a 90-minute documentary directed by Nora Poggi and Insiyah Saeed. Through intimate, action-driven storytelling, She Started It explores the cultural roots of female underrepresentation in entrepreneurship—including pervasive self-doubt, fear of failure, and risk aversion among young women. It exposes, too, the structural realities women face as they become She Started It 02entrepreneurs, including lack of female role models and investors and the persistent dearth of venture capital funding made available to women-led companies.

Women usually account for less than 10 percent of founders for high growth firms, according to the Kauffman Foundation’s Sources of Economic Hope study. “Only 4 per cent of fortune 500 companies are run She Started It 13by women,” note Poggi and Saeed in their Directors’ Statement for the documentary. “In Silicon Valley, women earn only 49 cents to a man’s dollar and get less than 10% of all VC funding. According to a Babson College study, 96 percent of venture capitalists are men, and they control the majority of the money going into startups. The numbers are indeed changing, She Started It 12but not fast enough.”

But you need not go to Silicon Valley for proof of the disparity between men and women when it comes to entrepreneurship. Statistics from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research shows women trailing men in business ownership by a margin of 2 to 1 right here in Southwest Florida. For She Started It 11example, only 34.4 percent of Lee County businesses are owned by women, and the percentages are even lower in Collier and Charlotte counties.

As She Started It underscores, the underrepresentation of female-founded, owned and operated ventures adversely impacts local communities. According to a study She Started It 04published in the Harvard Business Review, women entrepreneurs tend to create businesses with a higher social impact and reinvest in their communities a lot more.

In 2013, Poggi and Saeed decided that more women needed She Started It 05to know about the accomplishments of the female entrepreneurs spearheading the rise of women in Silicon Valley. So they set about inspiring young women to become entrepreneurs and consider careers in tech by depicting the day to day lives of five inspirational women, She Started It 07Thuy Truong (of app producer GreenGar), Stacey Ferreira (who created online platform MySocialCloud, which allows individuals to store their user names and passwords for auto-logins), Sheena Allen (founder of mobile app company Sheena Allen Apps), Brienne Ghafourifar (co-founder of Palo Alto technology start-up Entefy, Inc.), and Agathe Molinar She Started It 08(French web entrepreneur whose LemonCurve site is one of the top 100 e-commerce sites in France and a leader in online lingerie shopping).

The documentary follows these five women over a period of two years as they pitch VCs, build teams, bring products to market, fail and start again, taking viewers She Started It 10on a global roller coaster ride from San Francisco to Mississippi, France to Vietnam. Along the way, the film weaves in big-picture perspectives from women like investor Joanne Wilson, White House CTO Megan Smith, GoldieBlox CEO Debbie Sterling, and Ruchi Sanghvi, the first female engineer at Facebook.

She Started It 09“In our research we realized that many women feel they do not have what it takes to start a tech company, and even more so build the next billion dollar company,” state Poggi and Saeed. “We believe that women can start a company and aim even higher if they believe it possible!”

The women of She Started It are smart, resourceful and relatable, offering viewers powerful examples of female entrepreneurship while revealing the challenges faced by women-led companies. Their stories urge educators, parents, investors and She Started It 14business leaders to support women entrepreneurs and to contribute to a culture in which girls and women are able to envision, fund and lead their own enterprises. And they provide women and girls with a clear and simple message – if these five women can do it, so can you!

“Our goal is to reach one million women and girls with this film in 2017 and show them that if you fall, you can get back up,” assert Poggi and Saeed. “We want girls who see the film to know that they She Started It 15can take risks, that failure is okay and that it is worth trying something you are passionate about.”

In collaboration with Black Girls Code, 500 Startups, Girls In Tech and more, the She Started It Impact Screening Tour creates a forum for dialogue, skill-building and corporate culture training among young girls, parents, educators, She Started It 16employers and funders.


March 5, 2017.


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