Women Entrepreneurs Are Hurt by the Startup World

Women Entrepreneurs

Women Entrepreneurs in Launching new products requires early customer feedback, which males are more willing to provide than women. Ramana Nanda and Ruiqing Cao conducted the research.

Women Entrepreneurs often worry about whether their new items will succeed in the market before they release them. Entrepreneurs can submit their inventions on platforms like Product Hunt, where early consumers analyze and beta-test new apps and other goods, providing comments to help entrepreneurs perfect their ideas.

A caveat, though, is in order. A new working paper by a trio of Harvard Business School researchers found that 90 percent of Product Hunt’s early adopters are male.

“You’re missing out on knowledge from a significant portion of the population,” says Rembrandt Koning, an assistant professor at the Strategy Unit who co-wrote the article with Ramana Nanda, a Sarofim-Rock Professor of Business Administration, and postdoctoral colleague Ruiqing “Sam” Cao, a postdoctoral fellow in the Strategy Unit.

To make matters worse, women are more inclined to develop items specifically for their target market than males. It’s easy to envision them being cheap, given that guys on this site often lack the lived-in experience to assess their prospective attraction.

In the early stages of a start-up, the people who provide advice and feedback are almost exclusively men

It’s important to note that the gender disparity in Product Hunt isn’t the only place it exists. The majority of visitors to Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Y Combinator’s Hacker News are male, as well. Furthermore, they are a common sight in the boardrooms of venture capitalists and technology firms, where important decisions about new product development are made. People that give guidance and input on how to grow a startup tend to be male, according to Koning.

According to Koning, “sampling bias” is caused by a lack of female representation in the feedback sample. Even so, it has the potential to negatively impact a product’s marketability.

Female-targeted products expand more slowly

Researchers conducted a two-year study of around 6,000 products released on Product Hunt between 2016 and 2018 to see if there was a correlation. They used machine learning to classify things based on how appealing they were to female shoppers by analyzing product descriptions.

An app that allows pregnant women to request a seat on public transportation, for example, was evaluated as more than 99 percent female-focused, whereas an app that uses artificial intelligence to assist managers with diversity was scored as 75 percent. In light of the challenges, women experience in the workplace, Koning hypotheses that they’d like to see more managers use the tool more.

They observed that, after a year, typical female-focused products grew at a 40% lower rate than male-focused and gender-neutral initiatives on a platform where 9 out of 10 consumers are men. In addition, fewer women used the items, and venture capitalists were less interested in investing in them.


The gap might, of course, be explained by the fact that female-targeted items are less popular than their male counterparts. However, Koning and his colleagues put this assumption to the test using a novel technique. In its daily newsletter, Product Hunt showcases products that have already been released. On days when the newsletter highlighted products geared toward women, the researchers predicted that more women would be enticed to click on the link and be directed to the website. Female participation increases add Koning.”They might tell their pals and share it on Twitter or Instagram.”

According to their analysis of product success rates, female-focused businesses enjoyed growth and venture investment on par with their male-focused counterparts at the time. If this is the case, Koning hypothesizes that the founders who received favorable feedback on those days we’re more likely to persevere in the face of setbacks. As Koning predicts, “they’re going to keep pouring work into it.” Because they’re receiving a larger sample size, they can better assess the product’s value.

Women Entrepreneurs rely on input from their target market to improve their products and services

Entrepreneurs must acquire input from early adopters who are demographically close to their target customers to effectively measure the market, says Koning. When Product Hunt doesn’t work out, Koning recommends looking for new outlets, forming focus groups, and making sure you’re engaging with your audience.

These findings might be applied to any population that is underrepresented in test audiences for technology, including people of color and rural customers. Companies like X Factor Ventures and Harlem Capital Partners have taken the initiative to search out items that appeal to underrepresented communities, seeking an edge over competitors.

Product testing is a reflection of the larger tech industry, which is dominated by white urban professionals. Koning adds that corporations must continue their efforts to diversify their workforces to recognize the full potential of products appealing to women and other groups.

In the end, Koning adds, it’s because “all the venture capitalists and engineers and other founders are primarily males” that most of these platforms have male dominance. It’s not enough to have a platform that’s varied; you need a diversified bigger ecology as well.