Why You Should Fund Women: An Interview with Vanessa Bruce, CEO of Dough

Despite making 80% of all consumer decisions, women are severely underrepresented in startup funding, both as investors and founders. According to Crunchbase, less than 3% of all venture capital (VC) dollars go to companies led by women and less than 13% of VC decision makers are women. Yet businesses founded by women ultimately generate higher revenues; more than twice as much per dollar invested, than those founded by men, according to BCG. For investors, women-owned businesses present a largely untapped opportunity.

Netcapital Advisors recently hosted a panel of women founders and investors to discuss women in private equity. One of our panelists, Vanessa Bruce, co-founder and CEO of Dough, also spoke with Netcapital Advisors about how her company is making it easy for women entrepreneurs to sell their products and how founders and investors can support women-owned businesses.


Watch a replay of the full discussion panel on the Netcapital Advisors YouTube channel


An Introduction to Dough: 

“At Dough we’re all about empowering our communities to support women-owned businesses with their dollars. That means we believe that our wallets are powerful and that the consumer decisions we make everyday make an impact on the businesses we see in the world, and what businesses are thriving and flourishing. 

We believe in supporting these small, independent woman-owned businesses because the fact is women only get 2.7% of venture capital. I’ve recently read a stat that said this number went down to 1% during Covid, which is awful. And that worsens and widens for women of color. So we believe that with Dough we can bring that power back to the consumer to fund these businesses with our everyday purchases.”

Vanessa Bruce headshotVanessa Bruce, Co-Founder & CEO of Dough

On the Power of Your Wallet 

Wallet power is all about [the fact that] every time you swipe your credit card you’re making a statement about what you value. Our big wallet power statistic that we have is that if everyone in the U.S. spent $20 a month at a women-owned business, we’d drive $5bn to women-owned businesses monthly. When you hear that you can spend $20 — and that can be on your face wash, your soaps, your granola bars — a month, [you realize] the impact we can collectively make is huge. So wallet feminism, at its root, is all about shopping at women-owned businesses. It’s putting your dollars where your values are.”

Vanessa Bruce Quote 1-1

How to Use Transparency to Support Women and Gender Equality

Our belief is that transparency can help close the wage and opportunity gaps that exist. We believe in paying at what the position is valued at ... Buffer was one of the first [companies] to publish their salaries online, and we took it out of their playbook and formed our own transparent pay system. Internally, all of our employees, all of our team, they know our runway. They know when our cash out date is as a VC-backed company and that’s powerful...Everyone has a seat at that table of knowing how their everyday work is impacting the company existing on the day-to-day. 

Three women meeting around a table

Transparency is completely threaded in everything we do. Right down to even our supply chain of the software we use —  we evaluate our software based on what their values are, if they’re a woman-owned or woman-backed company. Planoly, for instance, is women-owned, we use them for our scheduling... All across the spectrum, this is how we’re building Dough, and this is how you can build an equitable, inclusive company from day one.”

How Investors & Entrepreneurs Can Support Women-owned Businesses 

Write! Us! Checks! There’s so much buzz about building resources for women-owned businesses, which is great! But at the end of the day, what women-owned businesses need to thrive are our dollars. Be that you are using a woman-owned software company, be that you’re using a woman-owned agency for your accounting, for your content, for your PR… At the end of the day, money is power, and money is what allows women-owned businesses to grow and thrive and be on an equitable playing field. I’d say, make the pledge to hire more women, and support more women with your supplier costs.”

Advice for Founders 

Woman business owner taking notes

“Build the company you want to see in the world. We just talked about transparency at Dough — that was something I wanted early-on in my career. Find out what your superpowers are and lean into them. Understand what aren’t your superpowers and where you should surround yourself with wonderful humans who have those superpowers. 

Last, but not least, don’t be afraid to lean in and stick with your values. We’re living in a space now where customers want authenticity, and want to know that you’re walking the walk. So lean into your values and build them into your company.”

How You Can Invest in Women Entrepreneurs Today

Woman drafting a website on a whiteboard

If women and men around the world participated equally as entrepreneurs, global GDP could rise by approximately 3% to 6%, boosting the global economy by $2.5T to $5T (BCG). Start making that a reality today, by investing in women entrepreneurs. You can invest using a site like Netcapital, where you can see the founders you’re supporting and fund emerging women-owned businesses like ChipBrain for as little as $5.

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Paige Robinson

Paige Robinson · Author

Paige is the Assistant Content Marketing Manager at Netcapital Advisors. She is a graduate of Wellesley College, with a double major in American Studies and East Asian Languages and Cultures. Outside of her work at Netcapital Advisors, Paige pursues creative writing and keeps up with the latest cultural news.

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