Serial entrepreneur Michele Romanow started five businesses before her 33rd birthday, earning spots on both Forbes’ Top 20 Most Disruptive “Millennials on a Mission” and the list of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women, as well as being named the Canadian Innovation Awards’ Angel Investor of the Year in 2018. Maybe best known for her role on Dragons’ Den, the Clearbanc co-founder shares her story, advice, and encouragement for young women in business.
Mediaplanet: Why do you think it’s important for women to take charge of their careers?
Michele Romanow: Successful people do what unsuccessful people aren’t willing to do. You are your best career accelerator. You’re the only one who can find your superpower combination of what you’re good at, what the world needs, and what people will pay for. And finding your superpower allows you to find great opportunities where you’ll thrive. It was finding my superpower that allowed me to build a caviar fishery, Buytopia, SnapSaves (acquired by Groupon), and Clearbanc. At Clearbanc, we’re big believers in female entrepreneurs and we’ve backed eight times more women than the VC industry average. I want to fund the women who have taken charge of their careers.
What kind of challenges do you and other women in your industry face? How have you worked to overcome that?
I look at this question differently. This is the best time to be a woman in tech or a female entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is never easy, and there will continue to be setbacks. But this is the strongest spotlight we’ve ever had on the issues women face in tech and entrepreneurship, and it’s easier to start a company than ever before with the rise of technology. I wouldn’t have the career I have now if I had started out 20 years ago.
What would you tell the younger version of yourself?
Make reversible decisions quickly. It’s one of our core values at Clearbanc and it’s what allows us to move fast even though we’re now over 200 people. If you have an idea or a process change, and it’s something that can be undone painlessly if things don’t go as you hope, make the decision and flip the switch as quickly as possible. You still have to be aware of the repercussions of reversing a decision, but the sooner you make a change and measure its impacts, the sooner you can learn and get ahead.
What advice would you give to young women who may lack confidence in themselves?
Don’t wait until someone gives you permission or a green light. If I’d waited until I was “ready” or had the qualifications the experts said I’d need, I wouldn’t have been able to launch five startups or build a global fintech company. It’s terrifying to take a leap before you have all the answers, but I’ve learned it’s the only way to grow. Remember, the most successful people also fail the most — it’s how you learn.