Accidental Entrepreneurs - Musemio's Kaitlin Fritz & Olga Kravchenko

In this episode Nikol talks to co-founders of Musemio - a VR edtech platform where culture meets curriculum - Kaitlin Fritz (COO) and Olga Kravchenko (CEO) about their entrepreneurial journey, unconscious bias in the startup world, and the importance of finding your foil.

Like Comment

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/episo...

iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/...

SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/user-69...

Google Podcasts: https://podcasts.google.com/?feed=aHR0cDovL3RoZWdvb2RsZWFkZXIubGlic3luLmNvbS9ncG0

Don't forget to follow, subscribe and share! #TheGoodLeader


Description: 

MusemioThis week Nikol talks to Kaitlin Fritz (COO) and Olga Kravchenko (CEO) - co-founders of the VR edtech startup Musemio that is set to make children's arts & cultural education accessible. Olga and Kaitlin discuss their entrepreneurial journeys, what it's like to be young international female co-founders in the tech startup world, and the importance of finding your foil. 

Musemio has won numerous highly-regarded awards such as the £10,000 UCL Launch Award and Queen Mary’s Engagement and Enterprise Awards for social impact, and it has been named UCL’s ‘Most Promising Startup’ at the 2019 UCL Awards for Innovation and Enterprise. The startup secured over £30,000 in funding, from angel investment and being in Bethnal Green Ventures.

Find out more about Musemio: Website, Twitter

Connect with Kaitlin: LinkedIn; Kaitlin's talk at 2019's Laidlaw Conference "Leadership in Entrepreneurship"

Connect with Olga: LinkedIn

Send us your thoughts at contact@laidlawfoundation.com

Image


Transcript: 

NIKOL CHEN: From the Laidlaw Foundation, I’m Nikol Chen and this is The Good Leader - a podcast where we talk to remarkable individuals in all sorts of fields to learn more about how to lead with integrity and explore what the next generation of leaders is doing to solve the world’s most intractable problems. Our first season is all about the ins & outs of navigating the world of leadership as a woman.

Imagine if you could walk through pharaoh tombs and explore Ancient Egypt, or roam amongst the dinosaurs in the Jurassic period only using your smartphone and a cardboard headset. This is exactly what our guests today are trying to achieve - they have made it their mission to make arts & culture accessible to children.   

Kaitlin Fritz and Olga Kravchenko are co-founders of Musemio - a virtual reality edtech platform aimed for children between the ages of 7-12 that bridges culture with curriculum. I met them at the UCL Hatchery to discuss the origins of their entrepreneurship journey, what it’s like to be female co-founders in the startup world, and the importance of finding your foil.

Before we begin, just a quick note that you can find the transcript of this episode, further reading suggestions and a list of references on the Laidlaw Scholars Network.

NIKOL CHEN: Kaitlin and Olga, welcome to the podcast.

KAITLIN FRITZ & OLGA KRAVCHENKO: Thanks for having us!

NIKOL CHEN: So, I’d like to start with something that you, Kaitlin, told your dad when you were leaving for graduate school in the US. You said: “Dad, I’m going to make arts accessible”. And I just wanted to ask - where did that mission originate in the first place?

KAITLIN FRITZ: So, I’m originally from a rural part of America, in Pennsylvania. And arts education was something that was truly more of a luxury than something that every child had access for. And it wasn’t until my late teens and twenties that I truly fell in love with art. And I thought about how different my life could have been if I was exposed or had this education at a younger age. So, it was ingrained in me since I was growing up and I wanted to make that difference for a small kid in a town like mine, or you know, rural UK. 

NIKOL CHEN: Musemio began when Olga and Kaitlin met at a hackathon at Kings College London back in 2018. Kaitlin had moved from Pennsylvania to do a Masters in History of Art at UCL, and Olga, originally from Ukraine, was completing a Masters in Arts and Cultural Management at King’s College London. Both extremely passionate about democratising education and empowering the public through cutting edge technology.

Now, two years later, Olga is the CEO and Kaitlin is the COO of Musemio. They have won numerous highly-regarded awards such as the £10,000 UCL Launch Award and Queen Mary’s Engagement and Enterprise Awards for social impact, it has been named UCL’s ‘Most Promising Startup’ at the 2019 UCL Awards for Innovation and Enterprise, and secured over £30,000 in funding, from angel investment and being in Bethnal Green Ventures.

NIKOL CHEN: And then, in the conference talk that you gave in October to our Laidlaw Scholars, called Leadership in Entrepreneurship, you said that one of the most important things is finding your tribe. So, finding that network of people who help you excel, and who you don’t see as competition. So, you came from Pennsylvania to London, and Olga you came from Ukraine. So, how did you go about finding your network, so talk a bit about how you found those people who support you.

OLGA KRAVCHENKO: I think for me it was really important to find someone who is one step ahead. So, when I started this journey around 3, 3.5 years ago or something like that, I would look for people that can answer my questions and I kept asking more difficult questions and sometimes people would be puzzled like “Why are you even asking that?” and then I would explain them my idea. And usually how it works is you ask the questions, people are interested in why you are asking this question and then they get excited about the stuff you are building and this way it formulates a bond, and together you start growing as a tribe indeed.

KAITLIN FRITZ: I think, as an international student, it wasn’t easy at first. It took a lot of confidence and putting yourself out there time and time again. And I actually believe that success is 99% showing up. So, I would show up to you know University of London-wide hackathons or events here at the UCL Hatchery to try to meet people who had like-minded interests and it was through going to that events that I met other international students, other women founders and people who were travelling the same journey - either they were one step ahead or one step behind.

NIKOL CHEN: And you also talk about the importance of mentorship programmes, so could you talk a bit about your experience with those?

OLGA KRAVCHENKO: Well mentorship programmes are very interesting - you can either get really good ones or really bad ones. And we’ve been to multiple accelerators and incubators, trying to find our way into the world of business because neither me or Kaitlin have any formal education in business. So sometimes we have really good mentors who would give us ideas and who would be fascinated with what we do, so they would really try to give us advice outside of the box. But occasionally we would have mentors who would try to persuade us to do something else and for all the emerging entrepreneurs - I really urge you to be careful with all advice you receive and all advice you take on board because at the end of the day it’s one person’s opinion and that’s very very important to keep in mind.

KAITLIN FRITZ: And I think one thing both of us took advantage of was actively finding the right ones. Not always using the ones that came to us, like you can get mentor whiplash - you know, too many opinions at once. But finding the ones who you can call when it’s 11 o’clock on a Tuesday night and everything is bugging to give you advice and also the support you need at every stage of your journey - from the idea to where you are now.  

OLGA KRAVCHENKO: I think also regarding mentorship - mentorship is about supporting you on your journey but also helping you open the door that you wouldn’t have been able to open otherwise. So, if a mentor is suddenly being very hesitant about introductions or any kind of actionable help they can provide I would take it as a red flag because either the person is not sure that you’re the right leader in this case to deliver on your vision or they have their own hidden agenda why they wouldn’t want to do it. 

NIKOL CHEN: And in your talk you also mentioned the importance of diversity, saying that your team doesn’t need another you. And how important it is to find your foil - someone who is complimentary and someone who will act as a balance. And you said that Olga is a foil for you and Kaitlin is your foil. So, could you talk more a bit about your co-founder relationship - how do you work together and how that kind of manifests in your work?

KAITLIN FRITZ: So, Olga and I are from two opposite ends of the world - she’s from Ukraine and I’m from the US. And we have had two different paths to entrepreneurship but we have the same mission and vision that led us together to create Musemio. So, she is my foil because we have two very different working methodologies but the same hustle that you need as an entrepreneur. So, Olga sets the vision and the path to where we’re going and I’m very much the one who helps pave that beautiful yellow brick road. And with our team we actually come from all different parts of the world, different educational backgrounds, some of us are upskilled in the field as non-traditional kind of entrepreneurs but we have that same singular mission which binds us all together and I think by having those diverse backgrounds and different ways of thought, it produces a culture of you know positive challenges that made our product honestly the best it would possibly be. 

OLGA KRAVCHENKO: I completely agree with you Kaitlin, and I think another thought I would add to it that our differences make us fight a lot, in a good way, in a productive way. So, whenever we would set to discuss our strategy it would take us not an hour but 5 hours because we would disagree on some points. But because we are open to the discussion we usually find the best solution that would suit us both and at the end it would serve our end user - our kids - that are the reason why we’re doing everything here, in the best way.

NIKOL CHEN: And, I’m just curious - do you think your cultural backgrounds affect the way you communicate and the way you work with each other?

[both laugh]

KAITLIN FRITZ: So, what I think is interesting is by having a team from all over the world, we have different strengths and weaknesses, so Olga is very clear on how to get things done and she communicates with very non-fluff, which is great because when you’re on a tight deadline and you’re on a sprint, things need to get done. Whereas, as an American I’m very like approachable and friendly, so when I work with students and teachers, that level of communication is more played up and works to our advantage. So, I think it works for us, not against us. 

OLGA KRAVCHENKO: Yeah, I completely agree - I think that the biggest issue we had was  around the communication and making sure that sometimes I don’t come as too strong because occasionally I would say something and that’s truly what we are striving for but then the way it was communicated might put the other person off and we are in London and so everyone is very very polite and occasionally this passion and this strength come across in the wrong way  and that’s when Kaitlin helps to put everything in a kind of beautiful wrapping, So, we get what we want but in a way that no one gets upset about it. 

NIKOL CHEN: It’s funny because I think we grew up in a very similar environment and then when I moved to London when I was talking to people, people would always say to me “you know, you come across as a bit rude and like very direct and very straightforward” but I guess that’s just how we were raised you know like no fluff, no small talk...

NIKOL CHEN: Just to give some context, I was born and lived in Kazakhstan until I moved to London when I was 18. Both Ukraine and Kazakhstan are ex-Soviet countries, so Olga and I were raised in pretty similar settings and cultures. 

OLGA KRAVCHENKO: It took me a while to come to terms with the small talk. You know, you enter the negotiation room and both sides know what you are here for but then you still need to dedicate 15 minutes to discuss how’s weather, what is happening with the politics in Great Britain and some other stuff that is not related to the business. It took me a while to get to terms with that and usually I let Kaitlin start and take the kind of small talk ..

KAITLIN FRITZ: Yeah, I actually have done a course in communication and effective communication, so that kind of plays up on the wonderful rainy weather conversations. 

NIKOL CHEN: And have you ever experienced prejudice in regards to your cultural backgrounds?

KAITLIN FRITZ: I think we are in a unique position to be international female founders, which puts us at a minority to begin with. Most startups rarely have mixed gender teams - we are a female-founded team and we’re not British, so that comes with its own unique adventures, I would. I hope it would not affect you know people’s decisions on our business and on investment. But we’ve had, you know, unique struggles with registering a company as foreign people, and gaining those things that people maybe take for granted. 

NIKOL CHEN: So could you talk a bit more about your experiences with unconscious bias in relation to your gender and your nationality?

OLGA KRAVCHENKO: I do feel very strongly about this topic because we have had a lot of experience, a lot of negative experience in the last year, and it’s not about people being bad or deliberately trying to put female founders down but that’s something that unconsciously unfortunately comes up in the conversation. In the first half year of running the business, whenever I would say to someone that I am running Musemio, or a startup, a virtual reality game for kids. People would look at me - investors, mentors, advisors - and ask “Oh, so what do you do full time? Is it a side gig? And whenever I would try to explain that no, I am doing it full time, they would expect that I would have a male cofounder, so when I would bring Kaitlin into the equation, it would cause even more puzzled eyes.

KAITLIN FRITZ: I think on top of that we’ve been to events where male teammates have been there and you know parents or people interested would address them as the founder and that was something that was very...that took me aback, you know, that it was our research, our business and it’s just the assumption that the male in the room was the founder. And I don’ think you realise that until you’re at the other end of the table and that happens to you. 

OLGA KRAVCHENKO: Also, one of my favourite episodes was at a big networking event with investors and a couple of times they said “Oh, you’re a bit too young to be the CEO” and I looked at them, being very puzzled, thinking about all the great CEO that we could think about that started their company in their 20s, so I’m 25 now, for the record, and that happened when I was 24, so for me it took a while to get over any negative feelings I had and just accept it, and make sure that whenever I notice that there is any unconscious bias being thrown at me from the other side of the table, I actually raise my voice and I say that you wouldn’t say it if there was a male colleague sitting next to me or if you were talking to a male CEO. 

But what is very interesting and worth mentioning, Columbia Business School has done incredible research on potentially why women raise less investment, and we know that less than 2% of all the venture capital investment is allocated towards women, and everyone is actively fighting the issue. So, apparently they did a study during TechCrunch and female entrepreneurs would get questions that would bring them down and male entrepreneurs would get questions about their vision, about how better they are in the market and what would put them at strength. It would be the same questions such as “What makes you unique?” towards “How do you make sure that Facebook doesn’t eat you?” - it’s the same question but because it is being positioned from very different perspectives, women are forced to answer it and defend themselves rather than elevate what they do. 

NIKOL CHEN: Olga is referring to a study by Dr Dana Kanze and others at Columbia Business School called “We ask men to win and women not to lose: closing the gender gap in startup funding”. They looked at 6 years worth of footage from TechCrunch Disrupt pitches - for those who don’t know, Tech Crunch Disrupt Startup Battlefield is a highly regarded competition during which early stage startups pitch their ideas to venture capitalists in front of a live audience, here is a clip from the show Silicon Valley to give you an idea: 

[clip]

So, the study found that women are treated differently than men when seeking capital. Men tended to receive promotion questions – questions that focused on gain-oriented elements like hopes, achievements, and advancement, such as “How do you intend to acquire customers?”. And women tended to receive prevention questions that focused on loss-oriented elements like safety, security, and responsibility, such as “How do you plan to retain your customers?”. In terms of the numbers - for men, 67% of questions were promotion-oriented, and for women, 66% of the questions were prevention oriented. And these prevention-oriented questions significantly hinder the entrepreneur’s ability to raise capital - for every additional prevention-oriented question put to the entrepreneur, the startup goes on to raise almost $4 million less in capital investment.

As Olga mentioned, only 2%* [2.2% in 2017, which rose to 2.7% in 2019] of U.S. VC financing is allocated to female founders even though female-founded firms constitute nearly 40% of all privately-held companies in the U.S. In the UK, less than 1 per cent of all venture funding is awarded to all-female teams. Here are some more facts for you: 

  • Female-led businesses struggle to grow past early stages, with 40% of those that raised equity remaining in seed stage, compared to 28% of their male-founded counterparts. 

  • Out of 16 British unicorn companies in recent times – those that achieved a valuation of $1bn or more –  only one that has a female founder.

Yikes. Clearly there is an issue with unconscious gender bias when it comes to investment. But there’s also a gender ‘enterprise gap’ when it comes to entrepreneurialism. Men are nearly twice as likely to be entrepreneurs, with 10.4% of men running their own business versus 5.5% of women. So, how do we encourage more women to become entrepreneurs? That’s after the break.

[BREAK]

NIKOL CHEN: Welcome back to the Good Leader and our interview with Kaitlin and Olga - the co-founders of Musemio - a virtual reality edtech startup that is set to make arts & cultural children’s education accessible. Let’s get back into it. 

NIKOL CHEN: Do you think that there’s a lot of age discrimination....

OLGA KRAVCHENKO: Yes.

NIKOL CHEN: ... in your industry?

OLGA KRAVCHENKO: I think it’s not just age, it’s... everyone is very excited about you being young and running a business. Everyone thinks it’s a very inspirational and aspirational thing to do but when it’s about them putting down their money or having any kind of real dedication apart from just meeting with you for a coffee every couple of months, then the question in very very different and unfortunately sometimes people are saying that you might want to get some experience in the industry, you might want to do an MBA.

NIKOL CHEN: How do you think we can encourage more young women to go into entrepreneurship and just leadership roles in general?

KAITLIN FRITZ: So, I think it starts from a younger age. When I was in grade school, on my report card I was told that I was bossy. And to most young girls that would be an insult, but I took it as a compliment [laughs]. And I think we need to rephrase the narrative from, you know, ‘the bossy’ to ‘the leader’. And it starts, you know, 6,7,8,9,10 - these girls need to be empowered to pursue their vision and pursue what they’re passionate about. And sometimes you know there aren’t modern day role models who are women in these fields but we need to start breaking these norms now. I have a 5 year old niece and I want her to grow up in a world where everything is possible and it’s through that constant encouragement and building that confidence from a young age...because I didn’t think, you know, even at 18 I could be an entrepreneur. That was something...you know, in my country that’s the Elon Musks. And I didn’t look like him, I didn’t have a degree like that and I didn’t really want to go to space but I fell into it because I was passionate and driven and more women and young women need to see that and be exposed to hackathons, and educational events, you know, coding. But also utilising their talents, you know, my talents are arts, English, education and communication, and I became an entrepreneur out of those skills as well. 

OLGA KRAVCHENKO: I think my background is a little bit different and generally in Ukraine you have a lot of strong opinions towards strong female entrepreneurs and indeed when someone is saying you’re ‘bossy’ it’s not a good thing to say. And my mum loves me and she’s very excited that I’m a entrepreneur but when I was growing up she told me that because I was being too bossy I might never get married, and it was one of her biggest concerns and then when I was doing my Bachelor’s degree, I had a boyfriend who would tell me that there is no way I could possibly do a business and it was just a very fun idea to discuss. I never had any business skills developed specifically to run a business until I was doing my Master’s degree and the only reason why I manage to get myself elevated to be the CEO of the company is because I’m never afraid to ask questions, and within my family, within my culture it was always very much encouraged to ask difficult questions. The skill of asking the right questions and not being afraid to hear difficult answers helped me to get where I am now, and I think more girls should be encouraged to challenge people.  

NIKOL CHEN: And have you always known that you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

KAITLIN FRITZ & OLGA KRAVCHENKO: No.

KAITLIN FRITZ: I am a flat-out accidental entrepreneur. I came to London and I told my dad I was going to make arts accessible, thinking maybe I was going to go more corporate social responsibility or a charity, and it wasn’t until one snowy day in February that I was like “I have the potential to actually make something from the ground up.” From an idea to what we have now, which is a commercial product, selling in multiple countries. And for me it was about embracing that risk  with two feet first, and just devoting myself to it and then, you know, throughout the process, I was uncomfortable to be called an entrepreneur at first. Until, a mentor of mine sat down with me and she’s like “you are a woman, building an incredible business, that is sustainable and has a social impact, thus you are an entrepreneur. Embrace it. This is what you are.” And it wasn’t until I had that a-ha moment that I embraced it.

OLGA KRAVCHENKO: I never thought I was going to be a businesswoman. I never thought I was going to be an entrepreneur. For me, it was just a fun journey to get engaged with when I started thinking about building Musemio that initially there was a project called Museum 2.0. It is very different to what it does now. I was doing it because it seemed to be fun - I was surrounded by these amazing  people who had done some many incredible things, and I was endlessly inspired. I still refer to the very first year of me trying to found a startup as the happiest year of my life, because the amount of inspiration, the amount of gratitude that you are surrounded by these incredible people who are doing impossible things on daily basis. It’s something that makes me feel alive. I would have never met Kaitlin, I would never had enough confidence and strength to pursue my dream of making arts & culture accessible for every child across the globe. 

NIKOL CHEN: And so, what advice would you give to young women who feel like they keep hitting the glass ceiling and facing gender bias in the workplace? 

OLGA KRAVCHENKO:  There are two pieces of advice that I would give. First one - raise your voice. But as soon as you raise your voice, have the guts to walk out of the room. Because there is a lot of unconscious bias and unfortunately as just one single female individual you wouldn't be able to find it all. But you can already make an impact. You can stand up and say that this is not the behaviour you will accept. And that you believe that it is caused by unconscious bias. But you need to have enough confidence to leave the room because just raising the voice and not making an action happen would not result in anything. This is the first piece of advice.

And the second piece of advice is that keep trying to break the glass. Keep trying to break the glass ceiling. Or think creatively and try to figure out how to get around it. 

KAITLIN FRITZ: Yeah, I think knowing your own self worth and who you are as a human being and as a person - that for us has been something that has given us the strength to have difficult conversations with people. Or like Olga said, maybe we break through the stained glass and make it a nice little mosaic on the floor. But also, recognise who you are and if it’s something you’re combatting with day in and day out - know your worth and know when to leave. I think  that’s something...know when to fight and know when to leave. But I think we need to start having these difficult conversations not only as employees, founders, but as a women’s society as a whole. 

OLGA KRAVCHENKO: I think one more thought I would like to add to this conversation is the difference between absolute truth and relative truth. So that’s something that my coach helped me to understand and this made my life much easier I guess to some extent. An absolute truth is something you know definitely - if you drop a pen, it will fall on the floor. This is an example of an absolute truth. Relative truth can be changed - so whenever you think you are hitting the glass ceiling, or there is a wall in your way and you can’t figure out how to get around it - think again. Because probably what you see in front of you is caused by so many issues - your upbringing, imposter syndrome, society, everything - is just the relative truth. And you can fight it, you can really make it work. 

NIKOL CHEN: And what is the worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

OLGA KRAVCHENKO: Go to B2B market and start selling to schools. 

KAITLIN FRITZ: I think for us, yeah, I think one of my...besides B2B market, which Olga has said...was you know “you can’t do this, you can’t apply for this, you’re not ready for this, your company is not at the stage for this, the application says XYZ”. We’ve gotten into a mindset where we go for it. We have applied for competitions where we're the youngest in the room, the only women in the room, but it’s...listening to someone tell you that you can’t. That’s honestly the worst piece of advice. We’ve gotten a lot of terrible advice. I think for us, we’ve been told, you know, not to wear certain jewellery in an investment meeting or you know to wear something...Like when we pitch I always wear a dress because you know what, I am a female founder - I don’t need to wear a suit to blend in with everyone else. So, I think...there are many examples.

OLGA KRAVCHENKO: Another amazing piece of advice...oh, yes, I know the worst piece of advice that I have been given. So, sometimes people  will tell you “do not share your idea with anyone” because they’ll steal it. This is bullshit. Because you need to share your idea with as many people as possible - the value of your business is not about the idea but about the execution. So if suddenly you told your idea to someone and within a month someone made it come to life, then probably you weren’t the right person to do that. 

KAITLIN FRITZ: That is the truth.

OLGA KRAVCHENKO: Don’t be sacred, keep talking about it. And when people are telling you that you need to file a patent immediately, it will take you 2 years to get a patent and it will cost you £7000, so don’t do it straight away until you’re sure your idea is going to work. Make sure you’re not scared to bring it out. Because there is a very strong energy about the leader who can share and inspire and that’s how you can find your own tribe at the end of the day. 

KAITLIN FRITZ: Yeah, and I can’t tell you because we’ve kind of went against that trend - we told everyone what we were doing, whether it was a networking event to the coffeeshop or a cafe because you don’t know who knows who or what people’s skills and backgrounds are, and because of that we’ve met incredible mentors and people have helped propel our business just by sharing.

NIKOL CHEN: And this is a big question but one of our Laidlaw Scholar values is being brave. So what do  you think is the bravest thing that you have ever done in your life?

OLGA KRAVCHENKO: We started selling. For us, so, Musemio is a product that is designed for children, so for a year it was very important for us to make sure that it works, it does what it says it does. We have invested so much time and resources into research, and it takes a lot of courage to actually roll out a product that you know can be improved. I think it’s the bravest thing that we’ve done and actually on Saturday, the second bravest thing I’ve done was to go to a Christmas fair market and speak directly to my customers and make them buy. Not to be afraid to put the questions “Would you like it, would you like it for Christmas?”.

KAITLIN FRITZ: I think mine is more self-reflective, I think for a company, yeah, that was one of the most difficult days. But I think taking the risk on myself and just keep on going. I’ve been through different trials of adversity but then next day I keep on going - I put myself on a plane with 2 suitcases to a University I’ve never seen before and you know what, I showed up and I kept going and I took a risk on this business where, you know, in the States people had very comfortable jobs. And we showed up and we kept going. And even after the day we launched and you know, we didn’t even have single sale but for us, we kept going and now, you know, it;s Christmas and we’re sold out of 80% of our stock. And it’s just that inner “you have to wake up and you have to keep going”

NIKOL CHEN: We recorded this interview with Kaitlin and Olga in December. Since launching their first Dinopacks in Christmas 2019, they have sold out. Musemio has since produced their first AR/VR storybook with a partner AR Market, and they are proud to be providing children accessible avenues to culture this spring, starting with their gamified narrative of computer history with the Hellenic IT nMuseum.

NIKOL CHEN: And to conclude, if there is someone listening to this podcast episode who has a cause that they are passionate about and they have something they want to change but they are a bit uncertain about leading that change, what is the one thing, one sentence you would say to them now?

OLGA KRAVCHENKO: Give it a go. 

KAITLIN FRITZ: I think...besides giving it a go, find someone who is 2 steps ahead, buy them a coffee, and get inspired because after that I think you will get inspired and give it a go.

NIKOL CHEN: Okay, well, thank you very much Kaitlin and Olga for coming on our podcast, I think you have been very inspirational to all of our young listeners.

KAITLIN FRITZ: Thank you, I have had the pleasure of meeting many Laidlaw Scholars and truly these are the people that will embrace it and make those changes.

NIKOL CHEN: You can find out more about Musemio at www.musemio.com, and connect with Olga and Kaitlin on LinkedIn. Follow the Laidlaw Foundation on Twitter and LinkedIn to find out when we release our new podcasts episodes, and if you would like to find out more about our programmes visit www.laidlawfoundation.com. Once again, you can find all the references, further reading suggestions and the transcript of this episode on the Laidlaw Scholars Network. Our music is by Broke For Free and Tours. 

This episode is in memoriam of Professor Kathy Phillips, whom we mentioned in our first episode in which I interviewed the CEO of the Laidlaw Foundation - Susanna Kempe.   Professor Phillips was the Faculty Director of the Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Center for Leadership and Ethics and Reuben Mark Professor of Organizational Character at Columbia Business School. She sadly passed away on January 15, 2020. Here is an excerpt from Columbia’s website: “[Kathy] was highly regarded for her research and expertise on diversity in the workplace, she was equally devoted to teaching and mentoring her students, collaborating with colleagues, and creating an inclusive community.”

More about Professor Philips and her work on diversity: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/13/business/katherine-w-phillips-dead.html

Thanks for listening.


References & further reading:

Kanze, D., Huang, L., Conley, M. and Higgins, E. 2018. We Ask Men to Win and Women Not to Lose: Closing the Gender Gap in Startup Funding. Academy of Management Journal, 61(2), pp.586-614. [PDF]

VC funding for women in the US: https://pitchbook.com/news/articles/the-vc-female-founders-dashboard (National Venture Capital Association. Pitchbook-NVCA 4Q 2016 Venture Monitor, 2016)

"Female-founded firms constitute nearly 40% of all privately-held companies in the U.S." - AMEX. 2016. The State of Women-owned Businesses Report. 

"Less than 1 per cent of all venture funding is awarded to all-female teams"https://www.ft.com/content/330b7904-2638-11e9-8ce6-5db4543da632

"Female-led businesses struggle to grow past early stages, with 40% of those that raised equity remaining in seed stage, compared to 28% of their male-founded counterparts" - https://growthinvest.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Beauhurst-Report-Equity-Investment-in-the-UK-2018-7.pdf

Six Statistics That Highlight The Challenges Facing Britain's Female Entrepreneurs https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidprosser/2019/08/27/six-statistics-that-highlight-the-challenges-facing-britains-female-entrepreneurs/#e0d4e73a2e15

Nikol Chen (she/her)

Digital Content Manager, Laidlaw Foundation

Hello! My name is Nikol and I look after the Laidlaw Scholars Network.

I am originally from Kazakhstan and I studied Human Sciences at UCL. My final research explored the potential effects of design on patient wellbeing in hospitals, and I also took modules such as Ethnographic Documentary Filmmaking, Anthropology of the Built Environment, Art in the Public Sphere, and other less interesting-sounding things :)

Drop me a line if you have any questions about the site, or if you'd just like to chat! I am always down to meet interesting people, so let's get [virtual] coffee ☕️

2 Comments

Go to the profile of Susanna Kempe (she/her)

I love this on so many levels.

I love the idea of finding your tribe; love that Olga is so curious, constantly asking questions; love that Olga envisions the path and Kaitlin paves it with beautiful yellow bricks; love that Kaitlin is a “flat-out accidental entrepreneur".   Also frankly quite cross that “we ask men to win and women not to lose” according to the brilliant CBS study by Dr Dana Kanze.    Another great podcast Nikol - congrats and thanks.

Go to the profile of Emma Franck-Gwinnell (she/her)

Thanks so much for this podcast. I found myself having to digest this episode in chunks; it makes me so angry to see the attitudes that are still pervasive about young female founders striving for success.

Brilliant episode, and such a great reminder of the 'behind the scenes' of founding a new enterprise - the time and effort that goes into it, as well as the setbacks that we face. I am inspired!