#WhatWeNeedToSucceed: A Letter to the Next President on Behalf of Women Entrepreneurs


A Letter to the Next President on Behalf of Women Entrepreneurs

Nov. 1, 2016

To: Secretary Hillary Clinton / Mr. Donald Trump

Dear Madam Secretary / Mr. Trump:

We write to you today on behalf of our nation’s leading innovators, entrepreneurs and influencers regarding one of the largest untapped economic and social opportunities in our country – women entrepreneurs. If women and men participated equally in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, the United States’ GDP could rise by $30 billion[1].

While women are starting businesses twice as fast as men[2], they face unique challenges, including experiencing disproportionately high failure rates, receiving only seven percent of venture capital and being represented in only seven percent of media stories. Through leadership and sound public policy, our country can benefit from the economic and social opportunity women entrepreneurs cultivate.

Over the last month, top business leaders – from enterprise CEOs to leading entrepreneurs – developed a set of policy and leadership recommendations that we believe will help women entrepreneurs start and scale businesses. Our suggestions for the necessary elements for success for women entrepreneurs focus on access to capital, expanding and supporting networks and markets, and addressing the changing face of business through technology.

First, we believe that access to and development of financial and human capital is essential to fostering women’s entrepreneurship; this can be supported through:

  • Incentives for individuals and organizations to invest in women-owned companies through venture funds, corporate venture, private equity and social capital.
  • Modernization and expansion of existing government certification, grant and loan programs that help women-owned businesses compete to reflect changing investment models.
  • Promotion and marketing of existing government programs to encourage broader awareness and use.
  • Continuing to foster small-business lending programs, including support for bridge loans.
  • Working with innovators to create new sources of capital such as crowdfunding and impact investments.
  • Encouraging enterprise corporations, federal departments and state/local contracts to increase supplier diversity with a percentage of contracts being awarded to women-owned businesses.
  • Considering a shortening of government payment cycles from 90 days to 30 days for small women-owned suppliers.
  • Expanding access to family-friendly policies including access to high-quality, affordable child care, care-giving and paid family leave policies.

Second, as women entrepreneurs and business owners turn to each other for help, we believe that the government and business leaders can help facilitate connections by increasing access to local and global networks and markets, by:

  • Supporting trade agreements that further liberalize trade and open new markets for businesses of all sizes.
  • Promoting global and open standards, and reliable mechanisms for cross-border data transfers and business support services and networks, while providing sufficient protections for privacy and information security.
  • Supporting mentorship efforts through financial support and encouragement of multiplier platforms such as accelerators, continuing education and training programs, and facilitated networking events.
  • Encouraging conscious placement of women on boards, in venture partnerships and on executive teams.
  • Promoting positive success stories of female founders and business owners through the media, conferences and leadership movements.

Finally, as industry lines blur, we see technology-driven implications for both government and business. Government and business leaders can help women entrepreneurs thrive in the changing-face of technology, through:

  • Streamlining the process of registering businesses and applying for government resources, particularly when working with strategic offices such as the Patent & Trademark Office, the Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration and the Federal Drug Administration.
  • Emphasizing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and digital literacy in education and early training programs.
  • Working with business leaders and educators to encourage technology training programs to end unconscious biases in the STEM fields, government, corporations and institutions.
  • Enabling access to broadband in all areas of our country.
  • Increasing awareness of options women have to the hardware, software and digital resources they need to scale their companies.

Through empowering and promoting women entrepreneurs, we can help create jobs and solve some of our biggest economic and social challenges. Women put 90 percent of their income into their communities and families[3], therefore we believe their success will not only benefit our economy, but will also have a positive impact on society.  We hope that you will make fostering female entrepreneurship a domestic policy priority during your upcoming term and look forward to working with you and your administration to implement the above recommendations and fulfill one of the greatest economic opportunities of our time.


Aaron Levie, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Box

Ajay Banga, President and Chief Executive Officer, Mastercard

Alex Buck, Vice President, Uptake

Alex Chung, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, GIPHY

Alexa von Tobel, Founder, LearnVest

Amy Millman, President, Springboard Enterprises

Ana Dutra, President and Chief Executive Officer, Executives’ Club of Chicago

Anat Baron, Chief Executive Officer, StashWall

Andrea Wishom, Chief Operating Officer, Skywalker Properties Ltd.

Andy Dunn, Chief Executive Officer, Bonobos

Blake Irving, Chief Executive Officer, GoDaddy

Brian Lee, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, The Honest Company

Carol Nacy, Chief Executive Officer, Sequella

Carolyn Rodz, Founder, Circular Board

Carrie Southworth, Co-Founder, Twigtale

Cindy Whitehead, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, The Pink Ceiling

Cornell Iral Haynes II p/k/a Nelly, Chief Executive Officer, Derrty Ventures

Dan Teran, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Managed by Q

Daniel Lubetzky, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Kind Snacks

David Williams, Managing Principal, Policy, Government Relations, and Corporate Citizenship, Deloitte

Deborah Perry Piscione, Founder, Alley to the Valley, Nobiyo Freshwear

Debra Sterling, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, GoldieBlox

Denise Brosseau, Chief Executive Officer, Thought Leadership Lab

Diane Hessan, Founder and Chairman, C Space

Donna Harris, Co-Founder and Co-Chief Executive Officer, 1776

Donna M. Petkanics

Elizabeth Gore, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Dell

Erin Gore, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Gore Family Vineyards

Ingrid Vanderveldt, Founder and Chairman, EBW2020 and Vanderveldt Global Investments

Jana Rich, Founder, Rich Talent Group

Jean Case, Chief Executive Officer, Case Foundation

Jennifer Newsom, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, The Representation Project

Jeremy Burton, Chief Marketing Officer, Dell

Jeremy Liew, Managing Director, Lightspeed Venture Partners

Jesse Draper, Chief Executive Officer, Halogen Ventures

Jessica Alba, Founder, The Honest Company

Jessica Malkin, Chief Executive Officer, Chicago Ideas Week

Jessica Rovello, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Arkadium

Joanna Rees, Senior Partner, The B Team

Jon Steinberg, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Cheddar

Jules Pieri, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, The Grommet

Julia Hartz, Co-Founder, Eventbrite

Julie Goonewardene, Associate Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Strategic Investment; Managing Director UT Horizon Fund, University of Texas System

Julie Smolyansky, Chief Executive Officer, Lifeway Foods

Kara Goldin, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, hint Inc.

Karen Quintos, Chief Customer Officer, Dell

Kate Brodock, Co-Founder and President, Women 2.0

Katia Beauchamp, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Birchbox

Katrina Lake, Chief Executive Officer, Stichfix

Katrina Markoff, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Vosges Haut-Chocolat

Leah Busque, Founder and Executive Chairwoman, TaskRabbit

Lindsay Holden, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Long Game

Lisa Price, Founder, Carol’s Daughter

Maria Burns Ortiz, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, 7 Generation Games

Marie Forleo, Owner, MarieTV and Marie Forleo International

Marius Haas, President and Chief Commercial Officer, Dell

Mark Gainey, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Strava

Matt Maloney, Chief Executive Officer, GrubHub

Max Levchin, Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Affirm

Melanie Whelan, Chief Executive Officer, SoulCycle

Meredith Kendall, Marketing Partner, Lightspeed Venture Partners

Michael Birch, Co-Founder, The Battery

Michael Chaffin, Chief Executive Officer Three Commas LLC, President of Derrty Ventures

Michelle Smyth, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Pay Your Selfie

Niamh King, Vice President, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs

Nicole Quinn, Partner, Lightspeed Venture Partners

Nina Nashif, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Healthbox

Nina Vaca, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Pinnacle Group

Pamela Reilly Contag, Chief Executive Officer, ConcentRx

Rachel Haot, Managing Director, 1776

Rhonda Vetere, Chief Technology Officer, Esteé Lauder

Sallie Krawcheck, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Ellevest

Sarah Kauss, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, S’well Bottle

Shaherose Charania, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Women 2.0

Sheila Lirio Marcelo, Founder, Chairwoman & CEO, Care.com

Stacy Brown-Philpot, Chief Executive Officer, TaskRabbit

Steve Case, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Revolution and Chairman of the Case Foundation

Tiffany Pham, Founder, Mogul

Tina Wells, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Buzz Marketing Group

Trish Costello, Chief Executive Officer, Portfolia

Tyler Bosmeny, Chief Executive Officer, Clever

Wende Zomnir, Founding Partner and Chief Creative Officer, Urban Decay Cosmetics

Wendy Guilles, President and Chief Executive Officer, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Xochi Birch, Co-Founder, The Battery

Zaw Thet, Founding Partner, Signia VC

CC:  Members of the 115th Congress



Note: These recommendations are the points of view of the signatories, not of a specific corporation.


[1] McKinsey Global Institute, “The Power of Parity: How advancing women’s equality can add $12 trillion to global growth” (2015): 11.

[2] U.S. Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration, “Women-Owned Businesses in the 21st Century” (2010): 6.

[3] Phil Borges, Women Empowered: Inspiring Change in the Emerging World (New York: Rizzoli, 2007), 13.

About the Author: Elizabeth Gore

Elizabeth Gore is the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Dell Technologies, where Gore drives initiatives that support Dell’s goals around helping small and medium businesses scale and prosper, fueling the expansion of global entrepreneurship, thereby creating jobs that will drive the world economy. Gore is extending Dell’s global advocacy efforts to raise entrepreneurship to the public policy agenda, encouraging policies and practices that support and enable entrepreneurial growth globally. Elizabeth Gore is personally advising the growth of purpose driven companies such as the women’s accelerator Circular Board, ride share commuting company Scoop, online and mobile fundraising platform Classy, and innovative water company SOMA. Ms. Gore is part owner in Gore Family Vineyards. Ms. Gore is the Emeritus Chair of the United Nations Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council that builds global partnerships that positively affect the UN’s most pressing humanitarian issues. Ms. Gore previously served as the first ever Entrepreneur in Residence for the UN Foundation as well as Vice President of Global Partnerships, and founded strategic grassroots efforts such as Nothing But Nets, Girl Up, and Shot@Life. Ms. Gore is a former United States Peace Corps volunteer and served in Bolivia, South America. She previously, served in previous capacities with the Points of Light Foundation and Share Our Strength. Ms. Gore is originally from Texas where she was a financial development associate for the A&M Foundation. She holds a bachelor of science in Animal Science and a master in Education Administration from Texas A&M University. Ms. Gore was named by People as one of the top 100 Extraordinary Women, is one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business, and Entrepreneur Magazine’s Women to Watch. Ms. Gore has been featured on multiple media outlets including: ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, FOX Business, Fast Company, Fortune, Glamour, Entrepreneur, People, and Time. She is a World Champion Equestrian, a sprint triathlete, runner, and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise awareness for the global clean water crisis on behalf of the United Nations. Ms. Gore currently serves on the leadership council of the Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Ms. Gore resides in Sonoma County with her husband James Gore, a California elected official and has two hilarious children.