Just 12 simple questions, that’s all. No jargon, no pitch decks, no attachments.
Too often application processes ask WAY more questions than they really need to. That means that some great entrepreneurs opt out of applying because they just don’t have the time to fill in a long form. That’s why we just ask 12 questions to efficiently get to the heart of what we need to know to make a decision.
We’ve also designed the application so you don’t waste time on buzzwords, catch-phrases and emotionless bio cutting and pasting. (That stuff never gets selected.) Instead, we ’re looking for your humanity to shine through. Tell us about your vision, your passion, and why you/why now.
Just the act of applying gives applicants access to 500 connected and radically generous women who can help them succeed. All applicants, regardless of the outcome, get honest, personalized feedback, whether that takes the form of comments from Activator voters, or expressions of interest in helping, investing in, or advising.
Great decisions aren’t about processing the most information or doing the deepest dive, they’re about the ability to quickly identify the factors that matter most. Given that women make over 80% of the buying decisions, rather than rely on a handful of “experts”, we rely on the intuition of 500 women to know what they want and what the world needs.
The Activators who vote think about things like:
At SheEO we create very special Venture retreat where the selected entrepreneurs meet each other, spend the weekend together developing relationships which culminates in them dividing up the capital from Activator’s radically generous contributions.
Ventures decide as a group how the available capital will be divided. There are only two rules:
With a traditional VC funding model, the first thing a startup does once they’ve received funding is try to figure out how to grow fast enough and accomplish enough in order to get even more money at the next raise. The race is on and the clock is ticking.
At SheEO, the first thing a successful Ventures does is attend a retreat with the other members in her cohort. They arrive not knowing each other but soon start exchanging their stories, sharing their biggest worries, and opening their businesses to each other for support and help. Facilitated by world-class coaches and in the spirit of radical generosity, Ventures share resources, give advice, and listen deeply.
We know that being an entrepreneur is a hard and lonely road. By creating a safe space to share and with the support of coaches and each other, Ventures leave the retreat with a foundation that sets them up for long-term success – both personally and in their business.
Despite coaches being game-changers for many entrepreneurs, most women don’t engage a coach. Often it’s because we put ourselves last.
Our SheEO Development Guides (coaches) are women with deep experience. Unlike most coaching programs that are designed by-men-for-men and only focus on the business, our coaches, who have also been entrepreneurs themselves, understand all the competing priorities and complexities in your lives. They are experts when it comes to knowing how to help you figure out ways to integrate your various worlds. They don’t just “get” that things like childcare, eldercare or self-confidence issues might get in the way, they’d be surprised if they didn’t.
Ventures meet with coaches twice a month during their first year for help with things like identifying and focusing on what is most critical, developing business strategy, and guidance in blending emotional and cultural elements so you can better understand and develop your team, thinking talents, and communication style.
Imagine having 500 smart, generous and connected women on your team who are ready and able to give you the help you need, when you need it.
Every month SheEO Ventures can ask for anything – that’s right, anything – they need help with. These monthly #Asks go out to the community and within 24 hours, Ventures get what they need when Activators, based on their passions, their interest in helping the particular Venture, and their time commitments, respond.
From the pool of those who respond, Ventures pick who they want to have help. This helps Ventures learn to trust their gut and discern what feels right for them. Unlike many advisors and experts who think they know the answer and share what worked for them – which may or may not work for the person they’re talking to – we believe that there is often no “right” answer, no “right way” of doing something. We each have our own path to follow.
Most programs select expert advisors to work with ventures. These “experts” almost always have a singular focus – a “growth at all cost” playbook, based on strategies from winners in the past, and a belief that there is a single, set path to success. At SheEO we know that getting to a new world is not necessarily going to happen by following what has worked in the recent past. We’ve designed things differently: we’re committed to strong social and financial returns and pioneering new business models and mindsets. An old-thinking, cookie-cutter approach isn’t for us.
Instead, we give Ventures access to a large and rich network of diverse and passionate supporters and have them navigate their own path. As Ventures reach out and women in the network respond, Ventures select who is the best fit for them. Through this self-serve approach Ventures find and create a team of advisors, mentors and supporters who are perfectly suited for them.
When Activators vote for the Ventures whose products or services we care about, we’re also more likely to support that Venture with our wallets, becoming customers and spreading the word to others in our circle. Ventures not only enjoy instant customers, they get the huge value add of word-of-mouth marketing. This affinity-loop is showing signs of being an extremely powerful input that hasn’t been leveraged in most ecosystems.
Given that women make 80% of the purchasing decisions, imagine the power of this on a global scale as women vote with their hearts and their wallets about the kinds of companies they want to see in the world.
We are on the brink of the largest intergenerational wealth transfer in history. In the United States alone, $30 trillion will pass from baby boomers to their heirs – 75% of whom are women – over the next 30 to 40 years.
If these women decide to direct even some of that capital into supporting the enterprises that are committed to building a better world, they will have the power to literally shift world economies.
SheEO is creating a long-term strategy to build new pathways for allocating capital, one that results in the best possible outcomes for all, transcending the current winner-takes-all mindset.
Women have all they need to shift the entire system on their own terms.
The current system makes things overly complicated and builds up false barriers around the process of picking winners. Too often women who want to invest are scared off, feeling like they don’t know enough or don’t have what it takes to pick a company poised for success simply because of the jargon and complex selection criteria that is built into the system. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Given that women currently make 80% of the purchasing decisions, we are already investing in companies every day.
SheEO leverages women’s intuition while building our collective confidence. Through the voting process, as Activators go online and read through applications, we find themselves getting excited about the Ventures and the problems they are solving. Activator’s ask themselves if this Venture’s innovation would create a better world? Does it create sustainable jobs? Does it create a better future? Then we vote for what we care about.
It’s very simple but remarkably powerful. Just by going through the experience of voting, seeing the Venture we vote for win, and shedding the mystique around investing, helps us all realize we have so much to give and we know what we are doing.
We use centralized technology in our backend so Ventures and Activators have the tools they need to self-organize, find one another, ask for help and connections, and achieve pretty much anything else they need to in order to achieve their goals.
Ventures receive a 0% interest loan that is paid back over a total of five years, in 20 equal payments. A Venture’s ability to meet this schedule serves as a kind of early warning system should they run into headwinds. If a payment is missed, we’re there with our sleeves rolled up, ready to help.
It also means that 20% of the loan is paid back each year and can be put to work supporting an additional Venture each year. This creates a perpetual fund with capital that is in constant flow.
We’ve created a whole new model that makes it extremely easy to get your product or service out in the world and scaled quickly. There are 500 radically generous women in countries around the world who are there for you as customers, promoters, and local advisors. They are a distributed and highly connected network and they are your go-to-market strategy.
We’ve designed it this way to accelerate the impact of social innovations by getting them to the market faster. Less than 5% of women-led ventures export. This distributed network is a HUGE economic opportunity that up until now has been underleveraged due to the systemic bias against women-led ventures. By leveraging these 500 women on the ground in countries everywhere, we leapfrog that bias and accelerate getting amazing social innovations out into the world as fast as possible.
It’s an amazing way to change the world using the passion and buying power of women.
Our entire model has grown organically, led by the inbound energy or our growing community. We follow the energy, going to those communities who reach out to us and that are ready to bring together 500 women. Our approach is self-organized, locally led and locally organized. It’s all volunteer-based. If you keep emailing us, telling us you want to be IN, then we’ll follow your energy and show up.
If you want to create new behaviour, you have to use new language. At SheEO you’re an “Activator”, not an “Investor”. Rather than investing your capital then focusing on getting the highest financial return, it’s about activating your expertise, your buying power, and your networks to challenge the current model, all the while making a positive impact on the world in the process. We are all part of a team.
In today’s world, the word “Business” has come to mean maximizing profits at any cost, even at the expense of the planet and the people who live on it. Instead, we are structure agnostic, preferring the term “Venture” because we are most interested in impact, be that social, environmental or otherwise.
We are laser-focused on creating a new, distributed, global network that is self-sufficient locally and leverages technology to amplify impact. Activators and Ventures in our network self-organize events and co-create our model in real-time. We do not have staff on the ground in each country. It’s an entirely volunteer-driven community committed to building our muscle of radical generosity to strengthen communities.