To be serious or wear stilettos…or both?

September 14th, 2012 by Caroline Scheinfeld View Comments

Silicon Alley is quickly accumulating more companies in the fashion/retail space founded by women seeking to be taken as seriously as their male seemingly geekier counterparts! Who dictates women bearing stylish garb are automatically less intellectual or techie compared to those dressed in the Silicon Valley uniform of fleeces, jeans and tevas? The Mark Zuckerberg’s and Steve Jobs’ s of the tech world are known for their success as entrepreneurs but certainly not for their fashion sense!

To my readers, a quick disclaimer: not all female entrepreneurs are involved with fashion startups. Companies founded by women consist of a myriad of different concepts, many, which are far from fashion centered!  Female CEO’s are not all stylish, in fact, many, seamlessly fit the geeky techie mold!

When fashion focused companies start the funding process, they not only have to pitch their decks but also have to translate their concept to an audience usually far from their targeted demographic (note: the majority of tech startup investors are men).

While some men ponder why fashion can be intriguing to women, I struggle to grasp the rules and obsession men have with the NFL! Despite my effervesced to appreciate the excitement of tackles, fumble and sacs, I remain utterly perplexed why men devour this sport. On the other hand perhaps I am not making an effort to understand the rules. Don’t you think the average male investor scratches his head attempting to see the importance of a virtual closet? Of course he does, this is why the drier cycle exists for many female founded companies in stereotypically feminine spaces!  If women strive to see the importance of male-geared subjects like football perchance men in Silicon Alley should attempt to understand women & fashion?

In a recent NY Times article titled Techies Break a Fashion Taboo, Claire Miller hit the nail on the head, “Silicon Valley has long been known for semiconductors and social networks, not stilettos.” Chief Executive of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer claims, “designing software and products isn’t all that different from the design of clothes.” Perhaps if the geeky world of startups saw parallels/an intersection between the world of fashion design and technology product design, fashionistas would have more clout in the startup world.

Fashion technology is on the rise and can provide huge opportunities for investor success! Harvard MBA women such as the CEO’s of Gilt and Rent the Runway have confirmed users desire for fashion online. Speaking of runway, I believe female fashion companies face challenges taking off not because of unsound ideas but due to investors lack of understanding/knowledge of the intended their user experience! Successful female entrepreneurs need to angel invest and help their fellow females rise to the top!


About Jay Levy

Jay Levy

Jay Levy is a co-founder and principal of Zelkova Ventures. Jay focuses most of his time in working with the current portfolio company and looking at new investments in the software-as-a-service, internet media and green tech space. More »


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