New Startup Group Aims to Encourage Women Founders to Be Brazen

Xconomy Texas — 

Dallas—Jasmin Brand says organizations geared to support women founders tend to focus on personal rather than professional development.

“It always seemed they were focused on soft skills,” she says. “It’s OK to do social events, but that’s not how you learn to scale and grow revenue.”

Brand, who is CEO of Launch DFW, a media and events company focused on startups, says she found a community that puts an emphasis on the nuts and bolts of running a business in Brazen, a St. Louis-based organization. Brazen has launched in six regions throughout the country recently, including two outposts in Dallas and Fort Worth that will officially open next month.

Women in technology, especially, are looking for a place to grow—their businesses and professional networks, says Brand, who is Brazen’s interim director in North Texas. “And they also want to meet women in business in a different arena who can be fruitful connections for you,” she says. “It might be, ‘I may not be a tech person, but I work at Bank of America, and I might have some connections for you.’”

Brazen charges between $10 and $49 a month depending on type of programming and access needed, which includes co-working space, member events, and connections to fellow entrepreneurs. It is the latest in a crop of startup organizations focusing on supporting women entrepreneurs. In Houston, Carolyn Rodz founded what is now called Alice, a software platform that uses artificial intelligence-related tools to connect women entrepreneurs with resources needed to develop their companies at any time or anywhere. Juliana Garaizar, the CEO of the Houston Angel Network, is also part of Portfolia, a venture network that invests in women-run businesses. And, three years ago, Kerry Rupp co-founded True Wealth Ventures in Austin, which also invests in women-led startups.

Even with women in the decision-making seat, female entrepreneurs can still be overlooked, Rupp said Wednesday at a Startup Grind event. Women investors display similar biases to men, as a recent Harvard Business School study has shown. “It’s culture versus women,” she says.

To that end, Rupp says True Wealth makes it a point to seriously entertain meeting requests they get from female entrepreneurs via their website. Typically, venture firms won’t meet with founders unless they know them or a “warm introduction” made by someone they do know connects them to the founder.

But, she says, if you don’t have the right network—like, say, going to Harvard Business School (which also happens to be Rupp’s alma mater)—“you’re stuck at the door.”

Brand, of Brazen’s North Texas branches, says she hopes to help women founders be prepared for those conversations. “We are targeting programming that moves the needle for your business,” she says. “A marketing master class will have a traditional panel, but then we will break it down to very targeted lessons like email marketing, social media strategy, event strategy.”

That was the kind of practical advice Brand says she wished she had when, following a layoff a decade ago, she went out on her own. One company she was doing marketing consulting for asked her to offer a price for her services on a project. “He said, ‘Oh, is that it?” And I knew I should have asked for more,” she says.

A community like Brazen, she says, would have been a valuable resource. “We’re at the place where we don’t need women’s empowerment; we need women’s advancement,” she says.