Technology start-ups led by women are more likely to gain significant capital investment if they use crowdfunding campaigns to raise their initial finances.
Anastasia Emmanuel, UK director of crowdfunding platform Indiegogo, explains that the democratic philosophy behind crowdfunding means that innovative products are more likely to receive investment regardless of the background or gender of their inventors.
Speaking at the Wearable Technology Show in London last week, she said: “When you look at the investment landscape, it varies between eight and 15 per cent, depending on the US and UK, of venture capital money that goes into female-led start-ups. But when you come to Indiegogo, over 47 per cent of successful campaigns are female-led. That’s a crazy stat when you look at the two. The reason why is that the crowd is much more representative of the world than a group of investors.
“The original way you would access capital was gatekeepers, they’re the people holding the purse strings telling you whether your idea is worthy or not and essentially helping you bring it to life or not. What Indiegogo does is bring products to life that the world actually wants. That’s why you see an equal amount of women and people from different backgrounds and race, because the crowd doesn’t care. It cares about the product, and it cares about the team, but they’re much more representative than your average investor.”
Emmanuel explained how the types of projects using crowdfunding investment were a useful insight into the next big technology market. She said: “In terms of what we’re seeing future wise, there’s a real big focus on health and specific niche products that are coming to the market and also a lot in smart clothing. We started to see campaigns like Hexoskin and smart socks and insoles for testing your heartrate a couple of years ago. Now, based on the frequency of campaigns and also the way that the market is reacting you can tell that smart clothing is coming to the fore and in the next year there’s going to be a lot of smart textiles, smart clothing [that are] much more integrated.”
But Emmanuel believes that the need to integrate wearable technology into attractive design is critical for the devices to achieve mainstream popularity.
She said: “On top of smart clothing and smart textiles where [technology] is very integrated in what you’re wearing, I think we’re going to start seeing design houses and fashion labels getting into the technology market. The tech companies will enable fashion designers to use their products and help them design really beautiful products because the mass market, like my Mum and my Dad, are not going to wear a massive smart watch.
“I think design is going to be important and also [adding] more functionality. We can’t just keep developing these wearables, there’s not enough room. Everything needs to integrate with each other, everything needs to be a bit more open source and do more, because people are demanding more.”