10 Ways Female Founders Find Money

Venture capital isn't the only game in town. Look at the amazing breadth of creative ways these women entrepreneurs have financed their firms. Which one is right for you?

By Caroline Smith

1. Credit Cards: Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, used her personal credit card to purchase the trademark for Spanx for only $350. She is the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire and continues to own 100% of her company.

Print2. Personal Loan: Carolyn Rafaelian, pictured on the left, launched her exotic jewelry company, Alex and Ani, and takes pride in offering a positive message in its designs.

She opened her first retail store by taking out a mortgage on her home, and sales have grown to $200 million.

3. Loan from family or friends: Melissa Kieling, CEO of $ $11Melissa Kieling million PackIt, showed a few friends her prototype of an insulated lunch bag that actually kept worked. They put $200,000 behind her idea, and she is now projecting $16 million in sales this year! (Pictured left, with coffee.)

4. Kickstarter: XOCOLATL Small Batch Chocolate makes single-origin dark chocolate from bean to bar, and chocolate maker Elaine Read utilized this funding solution for creative projects. Funding is all or nothing. Over 8 million people have pledged $ 1.5 billion for 78,000 creative projects. Check it out!

xocolatl on kickstarter

5. Self Financed: Patricia Gallup, co-founder of PC Connection, invested her savings of $8,000 to begin the direct marketing powerhouse for computer products and technology solutions. PC Connection has surpassed $1 billion in annual sales and now trades on Nasdaq.

6. Crowd Equity: Brook Eddy, founder of Bhakti Chai, looked to CircleUp crowd funding for financing of her Chai Company. She was able to raise $ 850,000 with the assistance of CircleUp.


7. Angel Capital: Stella Ma and Amy Norma are the founders of Little Passports, a children’s edutainment company that introduces children to a new country or two new states each month. They received angel capital from Golden Seeds, one of the nation’s most active early-stage investment firms. They focus on “vibrant opportunities for women-led businesses”.

8. Venture Raise: Jennifer Hyman & Jennifer Carter Fleiss, founders of Rent the Runway, received $54 million in venture capital from Bain Capital Ventures, Highland Capital, Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers and American Express to start their designer clothes rental company.


9. Small Business Grants: Ashley Phelps, creator of GLOB, an arts and crafts products company, funded her start-up by receiving a grant from The EILEEN FISHER Women-Owned Business Grant Program.

Recipients are chosen from applicants of 100 % women-owned businesses that are founded on the principles of social consciousness, sustainability and innovation and are ready to move to the next phase of development. Eileen Fisher started the program in 2004 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of her $300 million clothing company. Fisher says, “I know how important it is to have someone believe in and validate your work. I want to encourage women entrepreneurs.”

10. Kabbage: Grand Loft Events owners Kathleen and Brandi Light pursued their dream of owning a wedding business. They took a risk on a 15,000 square foot facility slated for apartments and transformed it into a fabulous wedding venue with funding from Kabbage. Kabbage has fast approvals–and high rates. But when you can’t use typical credit cards, it’s a useful unsecured loan tool thousands of ecommerce and retail companies rely on.

So what’s stopping you? If your idea needs some capital behind it, take some inspiration from these female founders and figure out a way to get what you need.Let us know how it’s going!

–Caroline Smith is a contributing writer. Want to submit articles? Check out our guidelines.

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