Travo Start-Up Summit: Female founded firms urged to tackle male dominance

Travo Start-Up Summit: Female founded firms urged to tackle male dominance


The investment community is still dominated by men and predominantly funds male-led businesses, according to the female founder of a travel start-up.

Speaking at Travolution’s first Start-Up Summit hosted by IBM last week, Merilee Karr, founder and chief executive of Under The Doormat, said she had not personally experienced a funding bias but claimed only around 6% to 10% of European funding was going into female-led businesses.

She said: “I cannot say I have ever felt an investor was not choosing to invest in my company because I was female but like anything in this world, there is a lot of unconscious bias.

“The reality is that the investment community is predominantly male and they are investing in predominantly male led businesses.”

She is hopeful of change as more women set up their own businesses. She added: “The statistics don’t look good and I hope some of the female-led businesses will change that.”

Under The Doormat was set up three and a half years ago and offers visitors to London stays in premium homes.

Karr was one of two female entrepreneurs running new travel businesses presenting at Travolution’s Start-Up Summit.

The other, Valerie Lopez, is co founder and chief executive of Shoot My Travel which pairs travellers with local professional photographers to capture special holidaymaker memories.

Meanwhile, Sn-ap founder Thomas Ableman said the most time consuming aspect of setting up a new business was securing funding.

But he said having investors involved was invaluable. “The process of having investors has made my business better and made me better at running my business,” he said. Sn-ap matches travellers who want to make long distance trips with family-owned coach operators.

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