Rhona Togher knows how to tell a good story and that’s exactly what she did at last Friday's May Brekkie.
Her company Restored Hearing are raising money at the moment and Rhona is at the coal face of it all.
Too young, too female, too ambitious, sums up a lot of the feedback she’s receiving from VCs here in Ireland and internationally. She thinks the environment is improving for female entrepreneurs, but prejudice is obviously still pervasive.
And some of that prejudice is unconscious to the investors themselves.
A prolific angel investor here in Dublin, of whom I’m a fan, told me recently that he hadn't invested in a female founder because he never met any. Are you blind? I asked him in disbelief. You're surrounded by them!
But maybe we are invisible. We're certainly too silent. Rhona told her rapt audience on Friday that she wished she had shouted from the rooftops when she secured her first $500K of funding. Back then she didn't know why to shout. Now, she wants to join forces with other female founders so that they can raise their voices together.
Rhona didn’t just talk about the challenges of being a female entrepreneur. She shared her wonderful story, from growing up in Sligo, to the BT Young Scientist exhibition, to briefly studying physics, to winning awards and patents, to growing a thick skin in business.
She talked about creating disruption, about running a company that is reengineering acoustic materials and inventing new ones. Disruption is an exciting place to be, but when you’re sitting in front of a VC, the burden of proof is all in your hands.
"We have global clients in the aviation, automotive and construction industries who see what we’re doing and know the market is worth billions" Rhona said. But, finding a truly venture driven VC to translate that into funding is a very different challenge. And, likely, even harder for a woman.
Suffering from Tinnitus set Rhona and her co-founder Eimear on a mission to mitigate sound. A mission of global proportions that they started 7 years ago at the age of 15.
Their deep bond and friendship has strengthened their business and I’m guessing seen them through many tough times.
It's pretty inspiring stuff. As is Rhona, the lady boss herself.