Here at Vantage, we designed our Female Founder Growth Series to provide women-led businesses with the tools to shine in front of investors.
The gender funding gap is substantial, with only 2% of VC funding being awarded to female founders! And yes, that's a statistic from 2022.
To address this, major changes need to be implemented within the finance sector, from the top-down.
But something we can do from the ground-up is to inspire more women to pursue their business dreams, and let them know that in a male dominated society - they can succeed.
One way of doing this is to showcase incredible female founders, and share their highs, lows, challenges, and successes.
Q: Tell me a bit about yourself, and the overall mission of Loop Not Luck.
“I'm a 25 year old female founder building a company called Loop Not Luck. Loop is a candidate sourcing platform connecting underrepresented talent with entry-level career opportunities in fast-growing businesses across the UK.”
In just 10 months, Sydney has taken Loop Not Luck from strength-to-strength. Advancing their product, Loop Not Luck has found their niche in the market, started to acquire customers and generate revenue.
Q: What does the process of connecting diverse talent to career opportunities look like? And how does Loop Not Luck work to match under-connected talent with growing companies?
Sydney explained that an important aspect of connecting diverse talent with career opportunities is having a large pool of candidates, and then building up the customer base on the other side that can fulfil the talent.
“Loop Not Luck is a marketplace in that way, but our unique selling point, and where we differentiate from a traditional jobs board or recruiter, is through our technology.”
Loop Not Luck developed an advanced talent-matching algorithm which helps connect candidates to the right opportunities for them, and in turn, companies to the right candidates.
“Our technology does the work so you don't have to spend endless hours scrolling through LinkedIn Jobs, or Indeed. Once you join Loop Not Luck, you'll have opportunities presented to you that are specially selected based on a percentage match score.”
Essentially, Loop Not Luck helps to mitigate the ‘hunt’ element of a typical job hunt.
Q: Can you tell me about the moment you decided that workplace diversity was an issue that you were going to address?
Sydney shared how, instead of a light-bulb moment, the idea came to her over the course of her own experience breaking into the working world.
“My decision to address this issue was inspired by my own experience trying to get my foot in the door after graduating. I realised that ‘who you know’ plays such a huge role in the opportunities that you’re able to access.”
“I’ve been there as a candidate, trying to get an entry-level role. I know first-hand what it’s like. I applied for over 30 different graduate schemes and got rejected from all of them.”
Eventually, it was only when Sydney unknowingly networked with someone well-connected, that she was able to get a recommendation.
“This person vouched for me internally and that’s how I then got the opportunity to showcase what I could bring to a business.”
Aside from her experience as a candidate, additional drivers of Sydney's decision were the obstacles that she felt were preventing companies from diversifying their workforce.
After working for an investment bank for two years, and then for a Fintech startup for a year and a half, Sydney realised that businesses were talking about increasing diversity, and planning to bring on candidates from different socio-economic, ethnic, and gender backgrounds. But when it came to action – they were falling short.
The intent was there, but the issue was that these people didn’t know where to look, or where to find these candidates.
“My immediate response was to point out that I knew a load of people that would match what they were looking for! But these candidates just didn’t have independent access to these job networks.”
The only route into these jobs for them would be to stumble upon the advertisement by chance, amidst a sea of irrelevant positions.
Sydney identified that there were issues to be solved on both sides – “Overcoming these two problems merged to form my idea of building a platform that connects the two hiring demands – candidates who are looking for roles but don't have access to the network, and companies that are looking for diverse talent but don't know where to find them.”
Q: The belief that ‘it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know’ is the harsh reality of working society. Why do you think this unfair system has gone on for so long? And how can employers help to level the playing field?
Sydney pointed out that “nepotism and 'inner circle’ relationships have been influential since the beginning of the working world.”
Whilst the natural expansion of networks isn’t a bad thing, we need to acknowledge the barriers that these issues present - in a moral and social sense, as well as from a business perspective.
“If you limit the exposure and the potential candidate pool that could find out about your job opportunity, you're doing your business a disservice, and perhaps missing out on the perfect talent to help your company grow.”
There’s value in being well-connected, of course, but as Sydney explains, “businesses need to make a proactive effort to reach people that are outside of their immediate network.”
And there are plenty of statistics out there that support Sydney’s case: diverse companies are 70% more likely to capture new markets, and 33% more profitable than companies that don’t actively hire diverse talent.
The obvious moral and social angle to workplace diversity is that it's only fair to give people (who aren't privileged enough to have somebody to vouch for them) the chance to secure a great job.
But there’s an additional argument to be had in business terms – a diverse team makes for a more successful one.
“Alongside doing it because it's the right thing to do, businesses should prioritise hiring underrepresented candidates for the sake of their business. And how can they do it? They can list their job roles on Loop Not Luck.”
Q: In terms of growth, what are the next steps for Loop Not Luck? Do you have any exciting plans for expansion?
Sydney hinted at exciting upcoming investment opportunities for Loop Not Luck.
“We’re raising our first investment round, we’ll be announcing more details about that in the coming months. Closing our first investment round is going to be a key milestone in the growth of our business.”
Loop Not Luck plans to access external funding to invest in marketing, building a team, developing their product and platform, and acting on the feedback that their candidates and customers are sharing.
Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge that female founders face, if any?
Sydney pointed out that as a sole founder, it can be difficult to know whether her experiences have been unique, or shared by other entrepreneurs.
In the pursuit of funding, Sydney considers that female founders’ experiences might differ from that of males: “I think in the investment journey is where female founders might notice a difference, in terms of being able to build a rapport with the panel. Most of the investors I'm talking to are older white guys, and I'm a young black girl.”
“It’s hard to tell how my gender is woven into their perception of me, in terms of portraying that I'm somebody that they can trust to run and scale a business, and that they can invest their time and money into me as a founder.”
In her journey of developing her experience and authority as an entrepreneur, Sydney debated whether additional requirements might be placed on her as a woman.
But thus far, she hasn’t run into any major obstacles that can be pinned to being a female founder.
Q: Have you benefited from any entrepreneurial networks on your business journey?
Sydney explained how her experience with networking groups helped her find her feet within the business world.
“I participated in the Black Girl Fest X LocalGlobe Accelerator, which focused exclusively on businesses run by black women. That was one of the best accelerators that I've been a part of, it was a really engaging and supportive network of female founders.”
Loop Not Luck are in the process of launching a female founders directory, where women-led business and the services they provide are listed. Sydney explained how this directory will make it easier for people to support female founders – by engaging in their businesses.
We'll be sharing Loop Not Luck's female founders directory on our socials soon, so stayed tuned for more information.
Addressing the underrepresentation of female founders can not only help to close the female funding gap, but also combat unconscious bias and outdated depictions of what it means to be female.
After pinpointing the wants and needs of both female founders and VC investors, we developed a Female Founder Growth Series programme that features eight weekly workshops designed to get female entrepreneurs ‘investor-ready’, and maximise their chances of securing funding.
This programme will be taking place in London from 20th April to the 8th June - yes, in-person events are back!
Applications have now closed for our Spring Cohort but click here to join the waitlist for our Autumn Cohort!