Is there a lack of funding for women entrepreneurs, immigrants, people of color, moms, people over 40? If so, why? Soulaima Gourani, CEO of Happioh discusses her new startup, pivoting during COVID, Zoom-fundraising, and how she overcame barriers to fundraising by not making excuses and pushing herself to constantly beat the odds.
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Soulaima Gourani discusses Happioh
Right before the pandemic, Soulaima was pitching a startup concept focused on women flocking to virtual communities, but met some resistance. “Who would want to meet virtually, when people can meet in person?” During the pandemics, she pivoted to a more pressing model. The company is called Happioh. (Happy-Oh)
She explained that due to lack of organization and planning, 56% of actions items and learning opportunities are lost after in-person and virtual meetings. This is one primary reason people are ghosted so often, because people are overwhelmed and struggle to keep action items and critical information organized. This is what Happioh is being built to address. Currently, Happioh is fundraising.
Investment barriers for women and immigrants
Investment is sluggish for women, minorities, immigrants, moms, and people over 40. Soulaima fits in all of those categories, meaning her chance of success in Silicon Valley is 0.2% . Focusing on women only, only 6% of VC money goes to women. Although we aren’t sure what is truly driving this number, Soulaima guesses some bias could be a factor. With this realization, however, she doesn’t let it discourage her, she chooses to be motivated by beating the odds.
If you don’t have a rich network, build one!
One important aspect to her success is building and maintaining an incredible network. Because the first round of funding, she calls it the Hustle Round , relies on the wealth of your friends she explains this doesn’t have to be a non-started—you can build this network with hard work, being kind always, honesty, maintaining your integrity, de-risking as much as possible, and not being an asshole! Her first Hustle Round was around 700k.
How to do virtual fundraising
Due to the COVID pandemic, she explained how pitching investors has changed and how she prepared for zoom fundraising . She sees zoom fundraising saving founders time and money, BUT also increasing the diverse pool of talent for investors to meet more companies, and make more returns.
There are challenges to zoom fundraising of course. Soulaima explains why it’s so important to carefully craft your background , use great lights, audio and a polished background.
Check out Soulaima’s Video Pitch
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