Silicon Valley entrepreneur Eileen Gittins’ moonshot is to create the world’s largest pipeline of female entrepreneurs with the app Bossygrl for “teenpreneurs”. She puts on the ‘Advice Wings’ to share how women can more confidently ask for – and get – the money and success they want and deserve.
Melinda Wittstock: Eileen, welcome to Wings.
Eileen Gittins: Hey, so happy to be here.
Melinda Wittstock: Well, I’m happy to have you too and I am always excited to hear what is inspiring you right now?
Eileen Gittins: Well, my big thing right now is how can we create a world where business opportunity really becomes gender blind. We’re seeing it in the news, and my take on that is from a business point of view. Creating a world where business opportunity is really gender blind.
Melinda Wittstock: I think of how many VCs miss out on amazing opportunities because they’re not gender blind.
Eileen Gittins: Yeah. We all have unconscious bias and one of the pieces, I guess, of lemonade that’s happening under the lens right now is the conversation is elevating to the point where people are at least aware that they may have unconscious biases and sometimes they’re conscious as we know, but hopefully this conversation will at least inform people to give it a second thought when they may be just automatically discounting people based on gender.
Melinda Wittstock: Well, it’s exactly why I began this podcast, to solve exactly this problem and highlighting and affirming, acclaiming the journeys of female entrepreneurs. We can all learn a lot and hopefully men too, but that brings me neatly to my next question on this Minisode segment, which is what is frustrating you right now as an entrepreneur?
Eileen Gittins: Well in general, for females, women don’t ask for enough, right? We are socialized at the young age to raise our hands in school and ask permission. Boys are not socialized that way and where that manifest itself later in careers is that women don’t raise their hands and ask for enough, whether that’s for a raise, a promotion, for additional resources, for help or fund of raising. In all cases, I see it all the time. I’ve been CEO across many companies since 1997 and I see this all the time. Women just don’t have confidence to ask for what they are worth, and that is very frustrating.
Melinda Wittstock: It is frustrating and it comes up again and again and again on this podcast. We talk about this issue all the time, so what are your three best pieces of advice for women really to change the game on that? What has to happen?
Eileen Gittins: Yep. The first thing is to step back and accept the fact that you’re worth it, just to yourself and you. Right? Then, as you’re doing business, make a case. If you need to write it out or create some PowerPoint slides or whatever it is, just make your case for what it is that you were asking for, whatever it is. I think when women are prepared and really feel confident about why they’re worth it, then their authentic voices will ring more through and they will have more authority when they speak. That’s the first one. The second one is to know that everybody, at some level, has imposter syndrome. Men too, by the way!
We although know what we’re doing half the time. Instead of that letting that get the best of you, if you just appreciate that the person you’re sitting across from, whether that’s a VC or a boss or whomever, also has had worries about their own competency, it might make you feel a little bit better that we’re all part of the human race and it is normal and natural to feel like, “I don’t know if I’m really up to this task.” Just acknowledge the humanity of all of us and going to those meetings with that confidence that you’re not alone.
Then, the third thing is … This one is super important and I know you talk about this on your podcast and I’m just going to second the emotion here. Surround yourself with mentors and people who will both support you and give you the tough love. It’s very hard to hear that kind of criticism. We all want to be perfect, but it’s really important to have people around you who you can trust to really ask, “Okay. How could I be better at X or what am I doing wrong, or listen to my pitch and tell me true, ‘Is this something you would invest in?'” Hearing that from trusted resources before you go in and raise your hand, super important.
Melinda Wittstock: Yes. You need to know that they truly do have your back and aren’t undermining you for some reason to be open to that learning because if you’re not teachable, it’s very difficult to grow on this journey. It’s a fine line, isn’t it?
Eileen Gittins: It is, and it is hard to hear. Personally, I will tell you it is hard to hear when you’re killing it. You’re killing yourself, you’re working crazy hours, you’ve got unbelievable challenges and pressures, and to hear from somebody that you could have done X better. Your natural instinct, just think, “Oh my God. Are you freaking kidding me? I have been working 14-hour days. One more thing, hello?” Actually, if those are people that you trust, pay attention because they’re telling you something important that you really do need to stop for a moment, and maybe even reprioritize your time, where you were spending your time. It may be this thing that they’re telling you about is actually more important than a lot of the other things that you’re spending your day doing.
Melinda Wittstock: I love what you’re doing, Eileen at Bossygrl. I mean, this world’s largest pipeline of upcoming female entrepreneurs. How can women and women launching startups get in touch with you and work with you?
Eileen Gittins: Sure. We have an app in the app store. It’s for the iPhone at the moment, but eventually we’ll get to Android but at the moment, if you have an iPhone, all you need to do is go to the app store and download Bossygrl. It’s B-O-S-S-Y-G-R-L, the Bossygrl app and what it is, it’s actually a starter kit that enables women to become entrepreneurs by growing a real e-commerce business via their phones. Now, we’re focused very much on Gen Z because to your point, Melinda, we’re trying to help create the next gigantic pipeline, the tsunami of young women, that when they hit the workplace, already know how to be an entrepreneur because they already are one. It will be difficult for somebody to tell them, “No, you can’t,” because they can raise their hand at that point saying, “No. You don’t understand. I’ve had my business blah, blah, blah since I was 15 and we’re growing 23% year on year.” Right?
This app is founded in a place of coaching and mentorship and education to help young women who don’t know about the world of business to learn about becoming an entrepreneur by actually being one, by doing it, by opening a store and actually making money and being part of a larger community of young women who are on an entrepreneurial journey. It’s wonderful. One other quick point, Melinda for your listeners. It’s not only for young women. I’m often asked, “Well, what if I’m 40? What can I use this too?” Of course, you can. In fact, we’re seeing a lot of women who have businesses create swag stores. Maybe you don’t have time to get a t-shirt, a bag, a phone case, a hat or whatever out there because it’s like just one more thing. You too can download the app and upload your logo.
Just say that your camera roll and use your artwork in the app to create products and then what the app does is it automatically generates a store for you or web store for you with the unique URL that you can point too and have your customers and advocates purchase swag content or you yourself can purchase it yourself for your upcoming event, whatever.
Melinda Wittstock: Okay. I’m going to check it out. It sounds like a good ‘side hustle’ for me. I’m always looking for little side hustle, so awesome.
Eileen Gittins: Yes. That’s what’s happening. When you start a business and you have a primary market, you think, “Oh, there’s some adjacent market.” I wonder how those were going to start appearing. Well, that’s what’s happening is we’re seeing a number of women already creating stores and selling goods right now. As you know, those goods are often times more about your branding than about making money on them. It’s getting other people out there flying your flag for you.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s awesome. Okay. I’m going to check it out. It’s Bossygrl, B-O-S-S-Y-G-R-L, all that will be in the show notes. Eileen, thank you for putting on your wings today and flying with us.
Eileen Gittins: Thank you so much.