3 Women Founders Share Career Obstacles They Overcame

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Today, on International Women’s Day, we’re proud to be included in Project #MovingForward, an open-source directory that highlights the ways in which VCs are creating diverse, inclusive and harassment-free workplaces. We’re one of several dozen firms participating, and we hope additional firms will consider publicly listing their policies through the project. Learn how to participate here.

We’re also celebrating today’s holiday by asking a few women Founders from the True community to share obstacles they overcame in their careers. Ayah Bdeir of littleBits, Laura I. Gómez of Atipica and Colleen Cutcliffe of Whole Biome all chimed in to give future women entrepreneurs a window into their experiences.  

What is the most difficult obstacle you’ve overcome in your entrepreneurial career?

“Being a Founder and CEO is tough. The highs are very high, the lows are very low and you are continuously oscillating in between them. It is those worst days when everything seems to be going wrong and everything is equally urgent that make you question yourself. Yet you have to stay focused on that problem you’re obsessed with solving and never give up.

Developing something new that never existed before takes time. Devote time to your passion — weekends, sleepless nights; as much time as possible. You will make progress, and when you get close to something happening you will feel it and become so energized you won’t be able to stop.

– Ayah Bdeir, Founder and CEO of littleBits

“As a Founder, I have struggled in dealing with the dichotomies of entrepreneurship: from the rewarding, life-changing experiences of creating products, value and purposeful teams, to witnessing an industry and market that generally does good but can operate outside the boundaries of ethics and respect at times.  

I am very grateful for my Founder friends (of all genders) who have been there for me. We are so hard on ourselves as Founders and women. Women, especially underrepresented women of color, experience so much in terms of microaggressions, sexism, impostor syndrome and so forth. At the end of the day, I try to focus on what I can do, not the actions of others. It is I who creates my own legacy and that of Atipica’s by making sure I focus on my own wellbeing.

– Laura I. Gómez, Founder and CEO of Atipica

Whole Biome

“I faced my most difficult entrepreneurial obstacle early on when it was easiest to give up. The challenge was my lack of business knowledge. I saw a human need and had a scientific idea of how to improve healthcare through microbiome intervention, but I had no idea how to communicate it to investors. I didn’t know what ‘business model’ or ‘value proposition’ meant, and I certainly didn’t know how to articulate it for Whole Biome.

After lots of fundraising pitches, we ended up starting the company as a consulting service because I knew how to pitch researchers and scientists. While we built our platform with the money we made from our service, I was busy meeting with people and learning a ton of new vocabulary.

Incidentally, other Founders and CEOs were my biggest teachers. It was my first insight into how unprepared anyone is when they decide to start a company. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or like you don’t know nearly enough to start a company, but you believe you can make a difference with your idea, welcome to the club! Reach out for help. I have never met an entrepreneur who wasn’t eager to spend some time and share lessons with a new startup Founder.

– Colleen Cutcliffe, Co-Founder and CEO of Whole Biome


Related Reading 

My Advice for Women Founders Seeking Funding by Ann Crady Weiss

Amy Errett Joins True’s Investment Team by Jon Callaghan