Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation

From scientist to entrepreneur: Amy Millman helps to ramp it up

May 4, 2009

Years ago, when Shaman Pharmaceuticals founder Lisa Conte was ready to take her company public, she experienced a case of mistaken identity.


Walking into a room of all-male investment bankers, she was startled to hear one of them say, “Oh, great, the woman with the coffee is here!”


Some women executives might have taken offense at such a comment. Instead, says Amy Millman, “She had to make that an asset for herself.” So Conte left the room, returned with the coffee, and proceeded to sell the financiers on her company.


The moral of that story, says Millman, founder of Springboard Enterprises, is that success is not just about hard work and merit. It’s also about overcoming preconceived notions.


Millman spoke this March at the Women in Leadership workshop at Discovery Park. Through her company, she’s helped more than 380 women-led businesses like Shaman raise $4 billion in the last eight years. She does that in part by helping these entrepreneurs polish their business presentations.


Start-up companies sometimes draw investors simply on the merits of their products. But, “You can raise certain amounts of money, then you get into the big leagues, and all of a sudden, you have to change the way you present to attract bigger pockets,” she says. “You have to ramp it up, and what we do is try to help people ramp it up.”


View an excerpt of Millman’s speech on our Facebook page.

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