About Astia

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Our origins | What brings us to today

In 1999, Astia was created with one mission in mind: to help female innovators succeed. We provided access to capital, business expertise and one-on-one advising opportunities, aimed at developing the entrepreneur as a whole. Fourteen years later, Astia has watched over 4,500 talented women create, float or exit their own companies, and the goal remains the same.

We are committed to the idea that female participation in high-growth industries has a positive impact upon innovation, economy and society. We also continue to believe that gender diversity is a socioeconomic necessity, without which creativity and overall economic productivity are severely compromised.

After working with female entrepreneurs for over a decade, Astia realized the best way to support these innovators involved a shift in company strategy. While business expertise and one-on-one advising was helpful, the most basic entrepreneurial need was access to capital.

Combined with tailored, startup-specific advice - such as pitch coaching - the Astia screening process evolved into a targeted funding program with a focus on the most essential items of the entrepreneurial process. This precise technique better equips Astia’s decentralized activity network, which today can be found around the globe. This change also makes the support of the 5000+ entrepreneurs, investors and industry leaders of the curated, global Astia community more meaningful for the female innovator.

Thank you for being central to this journey!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

#40Forward | Rethinking and Redesigning the Ecosystem

In the lead-up to International Women's Day we are reminded by the world’s media of the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. So, as part of these celebrations, I often take this weekend of the year to reflect on Astia’s successes, those of our entrepreneurs and the high growth ecosystem at large in advancing innovation through inclusive leadership teams.
Astia’s raison d’etre is to promote, ally and assist women high growth entrepreneurs and their ventures, one by one and by changing the ecosystem. As such, this year, we’re delighted and proud to be part of Google for Entrepreneurs’ campaign #40Forward: 40 startup communities rethinking the gender gap, a challenge issued to startup communities to increase participation by women by 25% this year.

Dramatically Increasing Women's Access to Capital
Astia and Google for Entrepreneurs are partnering to increase the frequency and city coverage of the Astia Venture Lunches. We are tripling the number of opportunities for exceptional woman-led start-ups to access capital, as well as expand our reach to include new markets outside of Silicon Valley, London and New York.  
For those new to Astia Venture Lunch, it is Astia's groundbreaking effort to increase dramatically women's access to capital. Not once a year - or even quarterly - but every single month Astia showcases outstanding woman-led companies to accredited investors in London, New York and Silicon Valley. Using Astia's Expert Sift – the proprietary community-sourcing and screening process- in our search for supernovas, each presenting start-up is pre-screened by no less than 25 industry experts before being selected to present.
And what do we know that those selected start-ups will have in common? That their founders have made a very smart business decision: to be part of an inclusive leadership team.

Inclusivity is essential to innovation and job growth
“The diverse group almost always outperforms the group of the best by a substantial margin,” according to The Difference, Scott E. Page, University of Michigan. “The key to innovation, in economic terms, resides inside the heads of people, the more diverse the better. That link may not be immediately apparent, yet any understanding of innovation's role in economic growth must focus on diversity as well as ability.”  As such, Astia works with inclusive leadership teams and actively encourages all members of the team to participate within our community, irrespective of their gender.

The importance of men’s participation in the global conversation around women’s high growth entrepreneurship
We know that high-growth entrepreneurs are similar in almost every respect. Regardless if male or female, entrepreneurs have largely the same education, economic background, needs, and challenges. This gives credence to the need for a unique offering for entrepreneurs focused on including men and women.

Women, however, place greater importance on the moral support, expertise, and financial backing of business partners, while men need far less encouragement from others. This desire of women, for community support and engagement, is what Astia offers our entrepreneurs.

Women uniquely need:
1.  Access to Networks - Around the globe, men and women are still by-and-large in separate business networks. Men are the holders of capital for entrepreneurs. Investment relies heavily on trusted business relationships. Astia is a model for creating a global network of men and women doing business together. 

2.  Access to Opportunity - Research shows that women self-assess differently than men and as a result often have lower aspirations commensurate with the lower assessment of their abilities. Astia exposes women to the opportunity of high-growth entrepreneurship and to the tools and networks needed to succeed within it. This personal growth is best achieved through exposure to the Astia community of men and women who have been there themselves and understand the challenges entrepreneurs face.

Through all Astia’s work to promote, ally and assist women high growth entrepreneurs and their ventures, bringing together men and women who are dedicated to the success of women-led, high-growth ventures is front and center.

And I ask you this. As you assimilate the many truly inspiring women entrepreneurs you will read and hear about this week as we all celebrate International Women’s Day, take one decision that will ensure that men and women are coming together to change the gender gap.

Let’s move forward.

Let’s move #40Forward.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

6 Launch Tips for Mompreneurs

October 30, 2012
Level Playing Field on Inc.com

This post is part of an ongoing series written by Patricia Fletcher, Astia Board of Trustees Member, for her blog on Inc.com, Level Playing Field. Scholar-practitioner, experienced high-tech marketer and advocate for meaningful innovation, she is passionate about leveling the imbalanced technology playing field to include all the best innovators. In addition to serving on the Astia Board of Trustees, Dr. Fletcher happily lends her research, time, and voice to enable women to change the world through high growth entrepreneurship and board service. Follow her on Twitter @pkfletcher.

The great thing about being an entrepreneur is that you have a decent shot at defining your own path.  That flexibility makes it an attractive option for moms re-entering the workforce and those looking to change careers. 

Read the full post at Inc.com...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dr. Teresa Nelson blogs about Astia

One of Astia's nearest and dearest advisors, Dr. Teresa Nelson, has joined us this week at Astia's Global Entrepreneur Program in Silicon Valley (Mountain View to be exact). She has been blogging all about the program, the companies and why you (yes, you!) should get involved with the advisory period and beyond at Astia.

Read her thoughts here: http://drteresanelson.wordpress.com/

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Never Make a Cold Call Again: 4 Tips

September 6, 2012
Level Playing Field on Inc.com

This post is part of an ongoing series written by Patricia Fletcher, Astia Board of Trustees Member, for her blog on Inc.com, Level Playing Field. Scholar-practitioner, experienced high-tech marketer and advocate for meaningful innovation, she is passionate about leveling the imbalanced technology playing field to include all the best innovators. In addition to serving on the Astia Board of Trustees, Dr. Fletcher happily lends her research, time, and voice to enable women to change the world through high growth entrepreneurship and board service. Follow her on Twitter @pkfletcher.

One of my summer jobs during college was pure cold calling. I walked uninvited into businesses, selling knockoff designer perfumes and colognes at heavily discounted prices. Success, we were told, was nothing more than a numbers game. Hit as many places as you can, and the odds are that one out of 20 businesses will yield a sale. And if one person in an office buys, others probably will, too.

Read the full post at Inc.com...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Calling all High Growth, Women Led Ventures!

The September 14 application deadline to Astia's Global Entrepreneur Program in Silicon Valley is fast approaching

September 4, 2012

Astia is currently accepting applications for its 2012 Global Entrepreneur Program, and we want everyone to know! The Astia Global Entrepreneur Program is being held in Silicon Valley this fall, and we want as many women led ventures to apply as possible. The program is more than just your average bootcamp - it is a catalyst for the transformation from start-up entrepreneur to founder-leader.

But don't just take our word for it. Here are some things that recent Astia companies have said about our program:

“The scope and depth of the Astia network, programming and organizational reach is staggering. Astia has made an enormous impact on our business and we've felt so privileged to participate.”
AJ Strosahl, CEO, DonationPay, Astia Fall 2011 Cohort 

"The Astia bootcamp completely exceeded my expectations. It was advanced, detailed and introduced us to many of the key players in the fundraising community here. There was no time wasted and it was an extremely worthwhile investment for our business."
Sherry Lomardi, CEO, Hulafrog, Astia Summer 2012 Cohort

About the Program:
The Entrepreneur Program is an unparalleled resource for success - a transformative program designed by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs who want to become dominant players in their sectors. The format? A comprehensive 5-day workshop, 3-month program of personalized advising from premier experts and the opportunity to start benefiting from the global ecosystem of angels, VCs, corporations, and entrepreneurs that is Astia.

Startups Accepted into Astia’s Program Have:
  • Raised more than $1 billion
  • Averaged a greater than 60% funding success rate, and
  • Achieved 23 exits, including 2 IPOs
Application Deadline: September 14, 2012

Who should apply:Exceptional women-led, high-growth start-ups who know that success is not just about raising money but about growing a business and thriving even in today's tough market.

To apply, please visit: https://gust.com/angel-group/astia/apply

For information regarding Astia, visit: www.astia.org

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Graduates From MBA Programs Should Look to Startups, Not Corporations for Job Opportunities

Auguest 7, 2012
by Julianna Davies

Astia Guest Blogger, Julianna Davies is a researcher and writer for the online MBA resource, http://www.mbaonline.com. She suggests that instead of looking to larger and more established corporations, recent MBA graduates set their sights on the startup community in order to find positions with growth potential and plenty of learning opportunities. Julianna picks up on a theme mentioned on Astia’s blog, namely that startups allow for more freedom for their founders to develop the skills they need to succeed. 

Though the economic conditions in the United States and throughout the world seem to be slowly on the uptick, job security for new professionals remains quite uncertain. Students who flocked to Master of Business Administration programs years ago in hopes of landing a high paying corporate job are increasingly finding closed doors: even top-performing companies have largely clamped down on hiring, leaving many wondering how to pay off their student loans.

The answer, at least for some, may lie in startups. Startups are traditionally less secure than long-standing businesses, and the pay is often a lot lower to start. A growing body of evidence suggests that entrepreneurial ventures are the way of the future, however, which means that jumping on board now may actually be the smartest thing an MBA graduate can do.

According to a number of scholars, job growth is actually more secure in the somewhat unpredictable start-up environment than in traditional businesses and corporations. A 2010 report by the Kauffman Foundation, The Importance of Startups in Job Creation and Job Destruction, claimed that startups are some of the only opportunities for job growth in the modern United States. Larger corporations are hiring, of course. According to the report, they are not actually creating new jobs, though—they are maintaining their status quo by only hiring to match losses due to resignations or retirements. In many cases, the study found, many businesses are cutting jobs by only filling a percentage of their available slots.

“The study reveals that, both on average and for all but seven years between 1977 and 2005, existing firms are net job destroyers, losing 1 million jobs net combined per year. By contrast, in their first year, new firms add an average of 3 million jobs,” the Foundation said in its official summary of the findings.

Much of this job creation is owed to the ethos associated with most startups. A startup typically begins with an idea and a small group of dedicated entrepreneurs committed to bringing it to life. The company grows almost organically, expanding as needed to meet changing goals and to keep up with demand. The culture is usually profoundly different from larger, more established corporations.

“The larger and more successful the company, the more challenging it is to innovate, not only because of bureaucracy, but also because of a perceived fear of failure,” Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, a technology advocacy group, told Forbes. “Great innovation drives the most successful companies, from old-line companies that innovate their turnaround, such as Ford, to new generation companies that innovate to lead entirely new categories, such as Google,” Shapiro said.

The focus on innovation and creativity is attracting a whole new crop of graduates, many from the top schools. Organizations like Harvard University host start-up career fairs, where students can network and learn about career opportunities in a variety of small business settings. Internships are also exploding in popularity, enabling students to get a taste of life in the startup world while still in school.

While job security is important, most MBAs and other recent graduates flock to startups not for the paycheck, but rather to be a part of something bigger. “I feel like I’m a problem solver,” Daniel Shani, a 2012 MBA graduate from the University of Chicago Booth School, told the Chicago Sun-Times. “Entrepreneurs first and foremost are looking to solve a problem. They’re much less drawn to the dream of glory and fame. It’s really not about the money. I really would like to make a difference in the world,” he said.

Shani was one of several Chicago graduates to forego high-paying corporate work in favor of following their dreams—or just keeping more control of their careers. There is traditionally much more space to share ideas and be creative in entrepreneurial settings, and the work environment is often much more casual and laid-back.

There are trade-offs, however. “You need to be OK with rapid change, not having a clear road map, not having a management program,” Scott LaChapelle, assistant director of technology platforms and new employer development at Harvard University's Office of Career Services, said of startup opportunities. “You need to be OK with the fact that your job description, if there even is one, may change as well.”

Not everyone is well-suited for life in the world of startups. For those with business savvy who appreciate innovation, creativity, and positive change, however, there might be nothing better than trading in a suit for a slot on a small team of driven workers. The opportunities in this sector are only slated to grow, and job security—though never guaranteed—seems increasingly more promising for people with ideas to share with the world.