To address the lack of available funding for women founders, PlayfairCapital created Female Founders Office Hours (FFOH). The event wentfrom an in-person to a virtual event, but this brought new challenges.
The mainstream tools they were using to host the event required too much manual work behind the scenes. Matching the right founders with the right investors was very time consuming.
The team discovered Grip and started using it as an all-in-one solution for hosting the virtual event.
The platform made it easier to host and manage bigger events, while AI matchmaking meant more relevant meetings could be scheduled between founders and investors. As a result, the event has been able to scale, creating thousands of connections and helping more women founders across Europe secure £280m in funding.
It seemed like Grip was custom built for Office Hours, with all the right branding and features we needed to run the event in its optimal state
For female startup founders, getting access to sufficient funding is a real challenge. From 2019 to 2020, VC funding for startups founded by women dropped by a massive 27%. Moreover, female-only startups only received 2.3% of VC Funding. To address these imbalances in gender funding To address this, Playfair Capital launched the Female Founder Office Hours (FFOH) event in 2019.
“Collaboration is Queen,” explains Henrik Wetter Sanchez, Playfair Capital’s Principal. “At Playfair, we believe in the power of bringing people together to solve issues and make us all stronger. As investors, we recognise the potential for entrepreneurship to improve society, but this will not be fully realised until we achieve real equality in access to startup funding. That’s why we have always been strong advocates of the power of collaboration.”
The event’s objective was to connect female founders and investors with each other. This connection would hopefully lead to an investment being made in female-led startups. This injection of cash would then help them scale, break through and increase the chances of success.
The first edition of the event, in 2019, took place face-to-face at Playfair’s offices, based in central London. “It was like a speed networking session,” recalls Jeevan Sunner, Associate at Playfair Capital. “Everyone would get up and physically move every 15 minutes. There was really good energy, but it was also difficult to logistically organise”
The event grew in popularity but, when the pandemic struck, getting everyone in the same room was no longer feasible. FFOH went from in-person to being a virtual event held on Zoom.
This worked well at first, attendees were able to go into breakout rooms for their one-to-one meetings and then come back into the main room to see everyone, contributing to a positive community feel. They were also able to expand the event beyond London for the first time, giving female founders wider exposure to VC funds across Europe. “The pandemic fuelled the realisation that actually the world is a lot bigger than just the five square miles around you,” explains Jeevan.
However, it was a difficult process. The whole team was having to constantly work behind the scenes, manually matching investors and founders and then moving them between breakout rooms. To scale the event and help more female founders, the Playfair Capital team knew they had to find a better way of hosting and organising the event.
The team was convinced there must be a solution out there that could meet all of their needs. After a bit of searching, it quickly became apparent that Grip was able to take on everything they needed to scale the event. “It seemed like Grip was custom built for office hours, with all the right branding and features we needed to run the event in its optimal state,” recalls Jeevan.
As a result, the team was able to dramatically increase the number of attendees. Whereas they previously had to cap the number of attendees based on technical constraints, Grip’s virtual events software means there’s now no limit to the number of people who can join. In addition, the AI matchmaking technology enabled the team to automatically match founders with suitable investors, without requiring hours of input and planning.
Having everything together in one platform was a huge advantage, according to Elise Congram, Founders Studio and Office Manager at Playfair Capital. “Grip’s has the AI technology, matchmaking, but it can also host the event within the platform… Coming across Grip, which could manage the whole event in one app, was a dream come true.”
For the latest event, Playfair Capital was able to host 125 venture capital funds and over 300 female founders, all managed remotely with Grip.
Playfair Capital continues to see massive demand for FFOH, with more investors and founders attending each session. “We've always known that women struggle to get funding, and that’s now being more publicly acknowledged,” Jeevan explains.
“Today, ESG (environmental, social and governance) and DNI (distributable net income) issues are at the forefront of CEOs’ minds and are being prioritised more. Every fund wants to do its bit to support women in the ecosystem, and office hours is an easy and effective way to do that. They can literally just jump on for two to three hours and meet a group of female founders relevant to them.”
“We’re definitely going to continue scaling the number of attendees,” says Jeevan. “We’ll continue to let more investors and founders be part of the event and we’ll continue to share our playbook with other funds as well, so that they can run similar events too.”
Due to Coronavirus restrictions in 2020, the challenge for Brownell was to provide their high-end event without meeting in person. Brownell looked for an alternative that would still provide workshops, training, togetherness, and networking. Grip was the answer.