Fellow Funders is committed to a more accessible entrepreneurial world for women. For this reason, in the last few days we have been talking with some of the women who lead projects that have been successfully funded with us. One of them is Mayte Pardo, manager of Althaia, who is a clear example that access to the world of alcoholic beverages is not restricted to men.
– Why did you decide to be an entrepreneur?
It is a decision that came out on its own, given the circumstances. In my case, it came out to support my colleague, who is also my partner, when he embarked on the craft beer project. I already had previous experience in wineries, and I saw that he needed help. That’s how it all started. In the end, my position ended up being necessary. We went on to form ESL, and one thing led to another.
– In Spain, women mean 19% of total entrepreneurs. What do you think is the reason for this gap?
The most difficult part of entrepreneurship is having financing, I.e., economic capacity to start. And not to leave aside something in which society is advancing little by little, but without reaching the point where women have time for work. I notice that, unfortunately, we are still caregivers in the family and at home. This makes it very difficult to be an entrepreneur, because in order to be an entrepreneur you must be 100% dedicated to it. I think it takes courage. I also think that unfortunately in society we do not share the tasks 100% in the family. You must be a little braver and decide to bet more on your company or in an important way, without neglecting the rest.
– This percentage is similar in Europe. However, outside Europe, women mean 27% of total entrepreneurs. What do you think it is happening in Europe?
I think this data should be studied a little better. There are probably differences between Northern and Southern European countries. I think that social policies also have a lot to do with it. And, as I said, I think there is a lot of progress to be made at the social level. In the family unit, if both work, both have the same degree of importance. And probably also the support that there is in this regard. When you are an entrepreneur you are also self-employed. And at that level in Spain there is little help.
–What do you think investors give more importance to: the company’s figures or the CEO’s speech? Which of them do you think should be given more importance?
In the end, the CEO will be the pillar of the company. The founders of the company are the ones who will steer the ship. If you don’t trust the way that person is presenting him or herself, you probably won’t see him or her as capable of carrying out the job, because it really takes a certain inner strength and desire that are there, and that must be noticed. I have always had to look for financing, but if one day I am going to invest, of course I am going to pay a lot of attention to the personality of the person who is presenting. That he/she is a capable person with initiative, because we know that after obtaining financing comes the difficult part. Now that we have obtained the financing, we must face reality. How should we do it? It is a matter of doing our best and making it work.
–According to some studies, women have lower chance of getting financing from investors who appreciate more the speech than the company’s data, especially when the investors are men. Do you agree with this? What do you think is the reason?
At the labor level, I have had more problems in valuing myself with those who were at the same level as me, and were betting on the same thing as me, because before starting a business I have worked in other fields. In that sense, I believe that what we must do is to break down those barriers. It is not that they do not exist. But I think it can be solved by presenting yourself and talking about your project ignoring what has happened before in society. You must go over it. When a woman makes a presentation, if she has those doubts that we carry behind in the backpack of history, it is going to show in the presentation. Therefore, the best thing to do is to get rid of that backpack, which has nothing to do with us or with reality.
If we do a good job, I believe that a large majority of investors will be able to see it. There is always someone who has his or her prejudices, but I believe that at an individual level it is not something to look at. On a social level, we already enter other political concepts and so on. However, at an individual level and at a company level, you must ignore what prevents you from moving forward and look ahead.
–Apart from the pieces of advice you gave before, what would you recommend entrepreneur woman when making her project presentation?
Once we see ourselves as equals, the rest of the advice you can be given is the same for men and women. You must be capable, have clear ideas and know that not everything will go as planned. You must have a certain capacity for improvisation. But, beyond that, the most important thing is to be clear about your goal and go for it no matter what. And when someone makes a negative comment that is not going to bring you anything, the best thing to do is to ignore it.
–You told us you went into business with your partner. Have you ever lived that a possible investor preferred to speak with your partner instead of you?
Yes, I have had them, but at the lower levels. This is a factory where trucks come, and we are a relatively small team. Sometimes a truck comes, and you must move the pallet. Those are the levels where there are cases in which they don’t see you capable, and they ask you if you have a colleague who can move it, even though you can do it perfectly well. But in distribution and higher levels I don’t encounter these problems, because my attitude doesn’t allow for them.
–You are working in the alcoholic drink sector. This sector has always been directly connected to men, despite the current changes, has it been a problem in your daily life?
I think it’s something that has to do with my generation. I am a member of an international association called Pink Boots Society. It’s an association of women brewers that seeks to break down and narrow that gap more and more and make beer global. We work very actively and do events where we speak and introduce ourselves. Internally, we support with studies. We raise funds, and with those funds we give scholarships for women. We try to encourage more and more women to go into this.
–In your investment round with Fellow Funders, you achieved the set goal. Have you had the same success with other investment sources?
It is the first time we seek financing. Now that we are in the project, the search of new ways of financing is possible. It was the first time we tried it, and we are really happy with the results.
–Unlike other sources of financing, women are more likely to succeed than men through crowdfunding. Why do you think this is?
We tend to be very well trained. When we go to present, we have everything prepared. We are used to being judged and questioned more severely. Therefore, I think it is possible that when we are presented, it is already demonstrated that we are more than capable.