The Gender Gap in Venture Capital

Posted on March 24th, 2015

A gender gap in venture capital? In all honesty, this is not something I ever thought of before this past fall when I was invited to be a panelist at an event hosted by Babson College. The event was held to discuss the findings of a new study on venture capital funding and women entrepreneurs. The study, Women Entrepreneurs 2014: Bridging the Gender Gap in Venture Capital, was conducted by the same Babson professors who started the Diana Project, a program focused on women entrepreneurs and their continued growth. Two stats from that study caught my eye:

  • Over the course of 3 years (2011-2013), only 2.7% of the companies receiving venture capital funding had female CEO’s
  • If women entrepreneurs started with the same capital as their male counterparts, they would add 6 million jobs to the economy in 5 years and 2 million in the first year alone.

2015-03-24_1029The report shocked me. But then I thought about how many women have come to pitch me for funding for their companies over the past 10 years … how many women entrepreneurs have come through our doors? I realized that in fact, this percentage isn’t all that dissimilar to the 2.7% cited.

Once you see how large the gender gap is, it’s pretty hard to ignore not just the problem, but also the profound impact, both economically and culturally, that we’d all see from bridging it.

A number of challenges are cited for this disparity including lack of role models, few mentors and unconscious bias. And while there absolutely are merits to all of these, where do we start?

In my opinion, a big part of the problem and the best place to start is at the top of the funnel. The truth is, there are disproportionately fewer female entrepreneurs seeking funding to begin with. We need to get more women pitching for capital.

Even if you are more economically motivated than values-driven, doesn’t it make sense to become part of the solution? Venture capital will chase success, but it also has to breed it. There is far too much upside to continue looking the other way. This is why we’ll be kicking off a business challenge for women entrepreneurs in partnership with Babson College later this year.

Generating an open and honest conversation about the gender gap is critically important. I’m certain that many of my male counterparts are, like I was, simply unaware of the problem, as well as the opportunity. This is something we can change, and I invite you to join in on the conversation.


Read more from John Burns in The Boston Globe here

We’re hiring a VP of Ecommerce In St. Louis!

Posted on March 16th, 2015

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That’s right.  We’re recruiting in St. Louis again!

With nearly 20 years of history, built up on a solid foundation of innovation and science, our client is a leader in the health and fitness footwear space.  We are leading the search for a VP of Global ecommerce.  This is a unique opportunity with high visibility and impact,  reporting directly into the CEO.  Your mission will be to build and drive ecommerce and digital businesses across multiple direct to consumer channels as well as:

  • Overseeing the concept development, strategy, planning and implementation of all global ecommerce initiatives;
  • Partnering with the Global Marketing Director to drive consumer traffic and grow the ecommerce business;
  • Building out, scaling and managing a global ecommerce team and owning P&L across all digital commerce;
  • Collaborating with IT on the design, architecture and back end solutions of ecommerce sites so that the overall brand strategy is translated online;

This position is located in St. Louis, MO and requires up to 25% international and domestic travel.

Interested in applying?  Check out our posting on LinkedIn:

Measuring What Matters

Posted on February 27th, 2015

When it comes to the metrics that measure the efficacy of public relations, social media and content marketing, we have all fallen into the trap of reporting what’s easy, instead of reporting what matters. We like big numbers, and “hockey stick” charts. We have been conditioned to define and defend our work through quantitative measures, instead of qualitative ones.

More impressions. More coverage. Bigger communities. Numbers at any cost.

But the fact that impressions, press coverage lists, and Facebook page likes are still viewed as industry standard KPI reflects, and I’m paraphrasing Moneyball here, an imperfect understanding of where ROI comes from.

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Let’s be blunt. “Impressions” are the emptiest metric there is. “Impressions” are potential eyeballs, that’s it. It’s the equivalent of magazine circulation. It doesn’t mean anyone saw it … or that they cared, or that they did anything. It’s just a way for advertisers and marketers to show their clients a big, juicy number that they can dial-up anytime they want. It can be useful, to a point, as a directional barometer of overall market penetration, but it’s a metric that is often used foolishly as the end-result instead of the starting point.

There is a big difference between an agency reporting that they had a good month because they delivered 20MIL impressions, vs reporting that they delivered 20MIL impressions that corresponds to a 15% lift in month-over-month web traffic, and an 8% increase in lead form conversions.

If your PR firm is offering a list of coverage as proof of their value, they are failing to connect the dots between their work and your business needs. Coverage in it of itself doesn’t matter. Coverage that drives strategic results does. That doesn’t mean coverage isn’t valuable. It is. But it’s a means to an end, not a final product. Agencies and brands should prioritize outcomes over output. Better to have one press hit that drives meaningful results than a spreadsheet of coverage that functionally does nothing more than make the PR firm look busy.

Similarly, Facebook page likes or new Twitter followers can certainly be indicators of a successful campaign or greater brand engagement, but in a vacuum they don’t mean anything as stand alone metrics. It’s a vanity license plate. You need 50,000 Facebook page likes? No problem, give me a few grand and a weekend and we can get you sorted out. If what you really need is increased lead flow from social sources, or better organic reach earned through quality engagement, that is a different story. One that can’t be told simply by showing a spike in audience size.

If we step back and seize the opportunity to redefine the metrics that really move the needle, whether that is web traffic, consumptions, commerce or brand sentiment, we can hold marketing to a higher standard.

There is no cookie-cutter answer for what metrics matter. It varies from client to client, and from day to day. The answer isn’t formulaic, it’s dynamic. The important thing is for brands and agencies together to decide what they are trying to accomplish, and what metrics can best measure, even directionally, the impact of their work. We might not be able to measure 100% of the work we do with numbers and charts, but we can decide to market with a purpose, and focus on indicators and outcomes that truly reflect growth in brand capital.

We’re hiring a Head of Product!

Posted on February 13th, 2015

Our client, CoachUp, is on a mission to show the world that private coaching is the key to success in sports and in life.  They have created a marketplace that connects athletes with thousands of vetted private coaches across the country in everything from basketball, soccer and football to fitness, yoga and dance.   We are looking to hire an experienced Head of Product to drive product development across web and mobile.  Reporting directly to the CEO, you will be creating the product roadmap, defining business requirements and partnering with the development team to deliver amazing products as well as:

  • Defining and prioritizing new features and strategic initiatives across web and mobile for both coaches and consumers;
  • Leveraging data and analytics to develop new products, improvements and features;
  • Optimizing the top of the funnel so that growth and engagement are top priorities;
  • Enhancing User Experience by developing a process to generate and incorporate user feedback;
  • Developing rapid and iterative test plans;

Interested in applying?  Check out the job listing here.

Babson Breakaway Challenge

Posted on February 11th, 2015

This fall, Breakaway, in partnership with Babson College will be launching the Babson Breakaway Challenge – a first of its kind consumer business competition. The objective of the program is twofold: to help women entrepreneurs see their businesses launch successfully, and to create an opportunity for women who aspire to become venture capitalists a first hand perspective on what the career entails. The winner of the competition will receive a $250,000 investment from Breakaway as well as our services to develop a winning brand platform.

We are passionate about creating opportunities for talented entrepreneurs to see their visions become a reality.

Stay tuned, much more to come.

 

We’re hiring a Global Marketing Director….in St. Louis!

Posted on February 9th, 2015

That’s right.  St. Louis.

With nearly 20 years of history, built upon a solid foundation of innovation and science, our client is a leader in the health and fitness space.  We are looking to hire a strategic and hands-on Global  Marketing Director.  Reporting directly to the CEO you will responsible for developing and executing global brand platform and marketing strategies as well as:

  • Assuring consistent brand messaging and imaging through concept stores and with global subsidiaries and distributors;
  • Implementing a global eCommerce strategy and marketing plan;
  • Creating digital and social media marketing campaigns across multiple markets;
  • Ensuring that marketing campaigns are fully optimized to increase consumer engagement and ultimately drive sales;
  • Developing seasonal marketing tools including advertising, collateral, POS, digital and retail;

The ideal candidate will have a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing along with 10 years of relevant consumer brand experience in either retail or eCommerce.  A proven track record of developing and executing global marketing campaigns and a passion for health & fitness is a must.  You should also be local to St. Louis or be willing to relocate there.

Interested?  You can apply here via LinkedIn.  

 

We’re hiring a Product Line Manager!

Posted on February 5th, 2015

Our client is an innovative, 100 year-old technology company based outside of Boston who is a trusted partner to the world’s great luxury, apparel, footwear, accessories and consumer electronics brands.

We are looking to hire an experienced and strategic Product Line Manager that will push innovation, drive sales in the handbag and small leather goods markets and support ongoing brand transformation that includes:

  • Planning and defining category direction, go-to-market strategy, product positioning, and target customer;
  • Identifying and capturing market opportunities that will accelerate product expansion and drive revenue;
  • Becoming an internal and external evangelist for your product line working closely with sales and key global clients;
  • Leveraging your deep expertise in consumer trends, market research, competition and overall landscape of the handbag and small leather goods space;
  • Establishing well thought out plans, goals and processes so that strategies are effective and ensure long-term success

The ideal candidate will have 5+ years of product line management experience in handbags and small leather goods. Experience working with well-known brands and the willingness to travel globally is a must. Education should include a bachelor’s in Marketing or related field.  

Interested candidates can apply via LinkedIn

We’re hiring a Brand Strategist

Posted on February 3rd, 2015

Strategy is central to everything we do at Breakaway. It’s where we uncover growth opportunities in product, branding, talent, marketing, innovation and capital for our clients. And then help make them happen.

We’re looking to add an experienced Brand Strategist who will help expand and strengthen our team by:

  • Adding an expert and strategic voice to our team, providing our clients with well-researched and actionable marketing insight;
  • Researching, analyzing and interpreting information from a variety of sources and developing a strategic point of view;
  • Planning and executing qualitative + quantitative research including focus groups, surveys, usability testing and one on one interviews;
  • Creating and delivering decks, presentations, briefs, and research reports;

Desired Skills and Experience:

  • 3-5 years in a strategy / planning role at an agency or well-known brand;
  • Experienced in high-growth global businesses and early stage startups;
  • Bachelor’s Degree in marketing or relevant field. MBA or similar highly desired;
  • Strong background in qualitative/quantitative research and analytics;
  • Expert in keynote, creating presentations and writing briefs;

The role reports to our Chief Strategy Officer and interfaces with the entire Breakaway team and all of our clients. Excellent interpersonal skills are critical.

The position is based at Breakaway offices in Boston / Back Bay.

Interested applicants should apply via LinkedIn.

 

We’re hiring a Director of Brand Marketing & Activation

Posted on February 2nd, 2015

Our client is one of the world’s leading consumer brands, with a rich history in the music industry that is rivaled by few.   We are looking to hire an analytical and ROI-focused Director of Brand Marketing & Activation.  Reporting to the EVP of Marketing and Sales, you’ll be leading, developing and executing marketing campaigns across multiple channels as well as:

  • Managing the creative process and activating it with a strategic, quantifiable approach;
  • Ensuring that content is fully optimized to grow consumer engagement and ultimately drive sales;
  • Leveraging analytics to convert activities into measurable market accomplishments.;
  • Developing comprehensive marketing communications plans for multiple products and programs;
  • Partnering with global sales and marketing teams  to develop a strategic communication processes to capture branding, positioning, and key selling messages for each local market;
  • Employing all appropriate channels, including digital, traditional print, sales collateral, PR, advertising and trade shows;

The ideal candidate will have at least 7 years of experience  working with well-known consumer brands.  Education should include a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing, Communications or relevant field.  The position is based outside of greater Boston and you must be willing to travel globally and domestically.

Interested applicants should apply via LinkedIn.

Breakaway Acquires Crunch Brands

Posted on January 14th, 2015

We are excited to announce that Breakaway has acquired the agency Crunch Brands, a Charlestown-based firm founded by Ted Schlueter, who now joins our team as Chief Marketing Officer.

Our mission has always been to help drive value for our portfolio companies and clients. Sometimes that’s investing capital or placing talent. Often it’s developing a new brand strategy, building exceptional creative assets, and activating it across a community. There is always a place these businesses want to go. It might be dominating their category, exponential growth or building towards an IPO. Whatever it is, we have engineered an incredible machine to get them there faster.

We’ve worked with Ted off and on over the last couple of years through shared clients, and shared relationships in the venture space, and have always been aligned on the opportunity to bring this new business model to life. Breakaway as a partner is unique in its ability to add value wherever our companies and clients need it, and the addition of Ted and his team helps us do that bigger and better than ever before.


“I’ve spent my career building brands. And trust me, there’s more to the great ones than meets the eye: artistry, alchemy, and a whole lot of hustle. Today, most brands operate with their eyes firmly planted on their navel. I’ve always preached looking forward, to where what makes your company unique meets its audience. There sits the new ground brands can move towards and dominate. I’ve always stressed the importance of making the decisions necessary to pursue a vision, accelerate growth, build and exploit momentum and create disruptions and differentiation. Now I’m taking my own advice and joining Breakaway.” – Ted Schlueter