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At 29 years old, Lisa Wang has successfully solved the massive puzzle that is the funding gap for female entrepreneurs.

While most of us – myself included – have been talking, reading, and sharing posts across social media with friends and coworkers about female entrepreneurship, as the Founder and CEO of SheWorx, Lisa has been swiftly yet quietly gathering momentous groups of female founders and investors to finally, and truly create gender parity in entrepreneurship.

Members of SheWorx are models for the future of entrepreneurship and investment. They are given access to mentors, a network to help reach their fundraising goals, targeted workshops, and intimate roundtables and events.

One of my biggest queries for Lisa was how she sought out all these amazing, focused female founders and truly committed investors?

Two and a half years ago I had no network. I didn’t know a single investor or understand how the venture world works,” she explained. “It was diving head first into this unknown ocean. I didn’t know any of the terms or who I should know. I’ve gone from that to hundreds of investors and thousands of entrepreneurs, who see me and SheWorx as the place to be if you are trying to raise money and access the right people.

Two and a half years ago I had no network. I didn’t know a single investor or understand how the venture world works.

“There was a clear focus on the values and the environment I wanted to cultivate. Because I had seen what was out there and said, I wanted to create a place where people who are serious about building companies, about connecting with people who will add value, and about learning the right skills. When you come here, you don’t waste time.

IAWP, I AM WOMAN PRoject, THE I AM WOMAN Project, female founders, women entrepreneurs, Lisa Wang, She Worx,
Photography via Vonecia Carswell

“The second thing was, you come to SheWorx because our mission is closing the funding gap through collaboration not competition. [This] means we connect female entrepreneurs to investors,” she continued. “I think what some people do, is try to do everything. When you are disorganized and are not sure what you’re focusing on, your community certainly has no idea why they should come to you over any other group.”

It was during one of Lisa’s early morning roundtables I got to observe the SheWorx magic in action. Upon entering, I shimmied my way into an inviting circle of women, as well as a few men who were all eagerly focused on each other every word and piece of advice.


Lisa is sitting at the forefront of all these ambitious entrepreneurs she has invited to share and hear from various experts, as well as each other. Regardless of the adorned space and the perfectly laid out avocado toasts and teas, the leaders in this circle have done their homework, are studiously taking notes, and ready to network. They are not here to waste any time.

Our mission is closing the funding gap through collaboration not competition

This is the special space Lisa Wang has carved out, a platform for entrepreneurs to succeed and for investors to invest in the best female founders. She provides a tangible structure for people to learn and make next steps in their business ventures while allowing leading businesses and investors to put their money where their mouth is to authentically help close the funding gap.

After an exhausting 2017, the energy in the room is everything women are hoping 2018 will bring with Lisa, leading the way. “A lot of the women’s events I went to were unfocused, disorganized, and inspiring but not tangible,” Lisa shared with me. “I wanted to create a space where when you come, you do not waste your time. You know what (you are) coming for: high caliber investors, equally ambitious women, and to learn skills. It was that focus that started SheWorx and it was this passion project. It quickly turned into something that was really fulfilling a need in the market. I was six months in when I went full time and decided this is not just a community or project, it’s an entire movement.”

In addition to leading a global platform and event series empowering over 20,000 female entrepreneurs to build and scale successful companies, Lisa is a former four-time USA National Champion and USA Hall of Fame Gymnast, as well as an alumnus of Yale University who majored in American Studies and Literature. So how did she wind up at a hedge fund?

IAWP, I AM WOMAN PRoject, THE I AM WOMAN Project, female founders, women entrepreneurs, Lisa Wang, She Worx,
Photography via Vonecia Carswell

“Never,” Lisa told me when I asked if she ever imagined that’s where she would be working after college. “When the consulting firms and banks came to recruit on campus, I was adamant that I was not going to be going there.”

Instead, she more or less fell into a position that would end up inspiring her future career path. “I won a fellowship to study in China for a year post-grad, and thought, ‘Maybe I’ll just find myself there.’ The fellowship allowed me to study intensive Mandarin and do intensive research. I focused on ‘Shadow Banking’ which is the Real Estate market in China, and all their challenges. I ended up meeting my future boss when I came back to New York. It was a random, sitting at the same restaurant situation, and he overheard me talking about the Shadow Banking in China. It just so happened that the company was focusing on China and they needed interns.

I thought I had gotten a good grasp on the boys club and then you go to raise money, and you realize this is a whole different ballgame.

Within the first month, I had that feeling that it wasn’t for me, but I was there for two years. I realized I cared about creative ownership, being able to make a big impact, and having that freedom to choose how I did it. I ended up building my first tech company, which was a food tech app, because I went to a Hackathon and presented there and won. I then applied to a food innovation accelerator called, FoodX. I got accepted and received money to focus my time on launching my app and building out my team. When I was fundraising in Silicon Valley, that was my first foray into that world. That was when I really experienced being a female founder fundraising.”

However, surprisingly enough, it was not necessarily Lisa’s experience in the financial world where she experienced the majority of sexism she has thus far faced. It was entering Silicon Valley that vigorously shared a new breed of what the gender gap means for women in tech.

“[Silicon Valley] was completely different. I thought I had gotten a good grasp on the boys club and then you go to raise money, and you realize this is a whole different ballgame. 94 percent of the investors are men. I remember one of the meetings I went into. One of the investors walked straight over to my 35-year-old, white male COO, shakes his hand, and brushes me off as the assistant. It was that and many other small things. It was not about these big egregious stories you hear in the news – it’s about the small paper cuts that happen to women every day. Getting dismissed, talked over, assumed as inferior, and that is when the origins of SheWorx started brewing.”

IAWP, I AM WOMAN PRoject, THE I AM WOMAN Project, female founders, women entrepreneurs, Lisa Wang, She Worx,
Photography via Vonecia Carswell

There are other sides to being a female founder though. There is the constant workflow that forces one to decide what “self-care” means for them, balancing precision with productivity, and calculating what you can help with and what you need to say no to. These internal struggles are even more difficult for women across the board. We are more likely to battle with guilt, shame, negotiation, and perfectionism.

“That is definitely the biggest challenge, supporting a community where one of the biggest perks is your ability to get access to funding. And by nature of that, it is an investment itself,” Lisa told me when I asked her how she made SheWorx accessible and affordable, while still supporting herself, let alone making a profit. “Our mission is closing the funding gap by collaborating and not competing. The challenge there is we want to help the people who are having a hard time paying up front because they are seeking money.”

At what point in your career do women figure out, these are the skills that I have, this is what I can offer and this is how I’m going to figure out how to ascertain my worth via a dollar amount?

Another issue though is this balance of wanting to help other people, especially other women in similar situations we’ve been in before, while still valuing our worth in tangible ways. At what point in your career do women figure out, these are the skills that I have, this is what I can offer and this is how I’m going to figure out how to ascertain my worth via a dollar amount? I think, for a lot of women, a naturally ingrained tendency to undervalue and not put a dollar amount on your worth. There is some sort of stigma around that,” Lisa stated.

“Whether that is unspoken or spoken. I think the problem is there are a lot of women who are naturally empathetic and collaborative. We are great branders, great marketers, and great connectors. It’s easy to think of those things are intangible, and maybe I can’t charge for those things. Until, you realize at a certain point that, wow, not everyone can be a charismatic connector. Not everyone can build a huge community and execute flawless events. Those are skills in themselves that I think we need to start realizing there is a demand for that, and you need to stop undermining your ability to execute those things.”

One of the most insidious, psychological imprints that that had for me was growing up in an all-female world, where your best friends are your teammates and are also the ones competing against you for the one gold medal

A large part of who Lisa is though, her female friendships, and how her inner story developed to the present is her immense background as a professional athlete. “I was a gymnast from nine to 19 [years old], so a very formative decade of my life. One of the most insidious, psychological imprints that that had for me was growing up in an all-female world, where your best friends are your teammates and are also the ones competing against you for the one gold medal,” Lisa revealed to me. “That gave me this idea of what friendship is – it is always, no matter what, some sort of competition. What you develop is this insecurity. I grew up believing that I couldn’t really trust women which is pretty ironic, given what I do now.

IAWP, I AM WOMAN PRoject, THE I AM WOMAN Project, female founders, women entrepreneurs, Lisa Wang, She Worx, Photography via Vonecia Carswell

My watershed moment was when I met my best friend when I was 24 [years old]. That was when I got my hedge fund job. I remember she was genuinely happy, for that fact that I was succeeding and I got this great job. When I saw that she was authentically happy, I was like, ‘Wow, this is what friendship is.’ That opened these floodgates of look at how powerful being supportive and being collaborative can be versus being competitive. It’s about eliminating that zero-sum mentality. It’s not you win or I lose, it’s that if I win, that increases your opportunity for success.”  

However, one thing most major athletes don’t have on their regular schedule as Lisa told me, is time. “For most elite athletes, the moment you retire you are just like, ‘I have 6-8 more hours in my day that I didn’t have before – what do I do with myself?’ There is a period where you do a 180. You eat whatever I want, sleep whenever I want, try all these things. Then you get to a point where you think, is this all there is? Is this what normal life is?”

It’s about eliminating that zero-sum mentality. It’s not you win or I lose, it’s that if I win, that increases your opportunity for success.

Another item on that list – self-care. “I need to actively force myself to relax and take care of myself because I am so used to running myself into the ground. I come from a belief that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard – and I still believe that. It’s not trying to find a balance, it’s making decisions for yourself that will make you happy and sustainable in the long term. This idea of balance I think is totally off. There is no work-life balance, it is just choices.”

What is remarkably motivating about Lisa’s journey is that her reputation and success have been led by a series of choices. The choice to work hard and stay disciplined, the choice to step outside of her comfort zone and share her goals with the universe, and the choice to continually learn and grow. It’s through these small actions of straightforward choices that can lead to mass impact and social change.

The mentors, investors, and female entrepreneurs that have stepped into the SheWorx circle are not there by mistake. They have been led there by reputation, career advancement, and a promise that they too can do their part in shifting the world and how we work in it.

Photography via Vonecia Carswell