The female cofounder of an Aussie startup has revealed the hidden misogyny and sexual harassment that exists within the Silicon Valley investment world. In an honest and at times uncomfortable open letter to anonymous angel investor ‘Phil’, Charlie Thompson, CEO of profit-for-purpose business The Clean Collective, exposes the manipulation and gas-lighting experienced by female-led start-ups, when raising capital in the predominantly male world of venture capital funding.
Having met angel investor ‘Phil’ at a Silicon Valley conference, Thompson found herself inappropriately propositioned when attending a follow-up lunch meeting to discuss his interest in The Clean Collective. Unknown to Thompson, the lunch reservation had been made within walking distance of the investor’s photography studio, where he expressed a desire to photograph Thompson.
“During lunch, he confessed he’d wanted to ‘capture’ me at his studio as soon as he met me at the investment conference, despite the level of business discussion he’d engaged me in at the time; that if I went to his studio, which was conveniently located near the restaurant, “he couldn’t be sure what would happen” and that my dismissive reaction was unusual, as most women become CEOs “because they want fame”.
“This well-rehearsed act and his exploitation of financial power demonstrate some of the flaws in the broken system of capital funding,” comments Thompson.
Fuelled by her experience on the investment circuit, Thompson and her business partners Charli Ferrand and Georgia Lawson are proud to be utilising new legislation around equity crowdfunding, working alongside the country’s leading platform Equitise, to raise their target of $1.5 million.
“By opening up equity to everyday Australians and the crowd, we’re looking forward to bringing in investors who are passionate about changing the future of our planet and the future of humanity, together. Equity crowdfunding provides us a way to remain a community owned by our community, rather than selling capital to a single party that doesn’t align with our ethics or purpose,” Thompson said.
“The Clean Collective’s mission is much bigger than an investor’s cheque book. We’re using technology to empower people to tackle climate change and take ownership of their health,” she added.
Thompson’s first-hand experience in Silicon Valley sent her back to Australia with next-level amounts of clarity, grit and determination to find investors that respect people and respect the planet.
The Clean Collective is the fastest-growing marketplace for sustainable purchases in Australia. The online hub brings together products and information on wellness and sustainability to empower people to tackle environmental epidemics and take ownership of their health.
Having built a new standard that guides safe and sustainable consumption, The Clean Collective sells approved personal care, cleaning and reusable products on its online shop, while publishing information on ways to create a healthier and more eco-friendly lifestyle on its personal development blog.
The team’s raising capital to grow their ecommerce operation while expanding their business with an app and personal development products, in partnership with experts in wellness and sustainability.
In less than two years, the company has earned more than $600,000 in revenue from over 10,000 transactions, attracted over 400,000 visitors, and amassed over 80,000 followers and subscribers. Now, they’re seeking investment to scale the brand domestically and overseas to drive bigger impact for humanity and our planet.
Investors will profit from The Clean Collective’s success; receive discounts, early bird access and exclusive passes; and help the company remove 37,500 pieces of plastic pollution from the environment and plant 12,500 trees when they hit their target of raising $1.5 million on the Equitise crowdfunding platform.
Read Charlie Thompson’s entire open letter to ‘Phil’ below:
You know who you are.
You stunned me into a state of gibberish that I’ll thank you for: sometimes your brain needs to be faced with an alien situation before it finds its script. Here’s mine:
You’ve got the wrong definition of ‘human capital’.
Women cannot be bought.
Women are capable leaders that become CEOs for many reasons.
Women founders do not deserve to be subjected to your well-rehearsed show.
And in case you’re wondering, the world’s still dying, and the Climate Change Clock’s still ticking.
Thank you for filling some of my precious time in the 134-month window of opportunity that we have to save the planet from a climate catastrophe with your ridiculous proposition because, you know what? No one grows in their comfort zone and you’ve just added some serious fuel to my fire.
My mission is so much bigger than your cheque book.
You sent me back home to Australia with next-level amounts of clarity, grit and determination to find investors that respect people, respect the planet, and understand that investing in our future is not only money and energy incredibly well spent, but an absolute necessity for civilisation.
The Clean Collective is now equity crowd source funding with Equitise to raise funds to fuel its mission, seeking 12,500 people to invest just $120 in the future of human and planetary health. In return, investors will profit from The Clean Collective’s success, receive some juicy rewards (discounts, early bird access and exclusive passes), and help The Clean Collective remove 37,500 pieces of plastic pollution from the environment and plant 12,500 trees when it hit its target of raising $1.5M. This is what you call a true and fair exchange, Phil.
This release and letter has been republished with Charlie Thompson’s permission. Feature image of The Clean Collective business partners Charlie Thompson, Charli Ferrand and Georgia Lawson by Aaron Francis/The Australian.
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