How Kate Anderson Is Creating Resources for Women-Owned Businesses to Thrive
Kate Anderson, co-founder and Vice President of Operations at IFundWomen, is working to close the funding gap for women-owned businesses through access to capital, coaching, and connections.
Kate and her co-founders were inspired to start IFundWomen in response to the limited options that were available for women to launch and scale their businesses. Since it was founded in 2016, IFundWomen has empowered their members to raise more than $100 million in capital. Today, Kate continues to champion women founders by providing valuable resources and opportunities to set their businesses up for success.
We asked Kate about the hardest and most rewarding parts of her journey, the impact IFundWomen has had so far, and the leadership traits she considers to be most valuable as an entrepreneur.
Q: What problem does IFundWomen solve?
Our mission is to close the funding gap for women-owned businesses. There is a complete lack of debt-free funding options for women-owned businesses. Karen Cahn, Sarah Sommers, and I started IFundWomen because we wanted to help women get access to the capital they needed to launch and scale their businesses while connecting them with other entrepreneurs and business coaches who could help them level up.
Q: What are some of the most meaningful impacts IFundWomen has had so far?
Since our founding, IFundWomen has empowered our members to raise over $100 million in capital and has created thousands of jobs. This is such an incredible step toward closing the funding gap for women entrepreneurs.
Q: What’s been the hardest and most rewarding part of your entrepreneurial journey?
Dealing with people is both the hardest and most rewarding part of growing a company. Interpersonal issues are unexpected, unpredictable, and time sensitive. Your initial response is critical. I work really hard to understand how to handle these issues in a graceful, respectful, and productive manner. However, it is a constant learning curve.
Having children has really helped me improve in this area because the needs of kids are also unexpected, unpredictable, and time-sensitive. The similarities of growing a team and growing a family are so strong to me. When my child needs something or demands something, I have to be able to respond in a way that is thoughtful, that my husband would agree with, that doesn’t set a bad precedent, and vibes with our other children. Employees' needs are exactly the same. I need to respond in a way that is thoughtful, that my co-founders would agree with, that doesn’t set an unfair precedent, and that also vibes with our other employees. I am fortunate to get a lot of practice in my off-work hours.
Q: What’s the biggest misconception that others have around entrepreneurship?
I think the biggest misconception around entrepreneurship is that it equates to freedom. I have found the opposite to be true. I believe entrepreneurship can lead to a lack of freedom since the buck stops with you. Most entrepreneurs I know are working early mornings, late nights, and weekends. If you love what you are doing, that makes it a bit easier, but it can also be really disruptive to your personal life. You have to find a balance and a team that can help you to distribute the workload.
Q: How do you celebrate successes along the way?
It is really important to celebrate successes and accomplishments along the way, especially the small ones. Unfortunately, we often spend a lot of mental energy focused on the problems, which can be draining. As a former athlete, I’m used to celebrating small wins: a goal, a great play, etc. I encourage my team to really relish in the small victories and allow them to soak it in so that they can stay positive and focused on our larger mission, which is closing the funding gap for women-owned businesses.
Q: Have you discovered any underappreciated leadership traits or misconceptions around leadership?
Respect, trust, and a good sense of humor are underappreciated but key leadership qualities. If you want to motivate people, you first have to show them that you respect them. Respect can be a core component of building trust and you cannot lead a team if you do not trust each other. Trust is created in small moments when you show up for people, do what you say you are going to do, and keep your word. You cannot have trust without respect nor respect without trust. Lastly, having a sense of humor in both work and life brings levity and can help diffuse heavy situations.
Q: How would you describe the journey you’ve had in a few sentences? Would you do it all over again?
The journey I have had has been really exciting and unexpected. I had the fortuitous opportunity of joining a startup at a moment when I was looking for a job in commercial real estate development. During my time at IFundWomen, I have had the awesome responsibility of growing a family and growing a company. I get to work each day with some of the smartest people who are all committed to closing the funding gap for women entrepreneurs. In a heartbeat, I would do it all over again.
Kate is a member of Dreamers & Doers, a private collective that amplifies the entrepreneurial pursuits of extraordinary women through thought leadership opportunities, authentic connection, and access. Learn more about Dreamers & Doers and subscribe to their monthly The Digest for top entrepreneurial and career resources.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.