FFA x Simplicity: Sponsorship in action
2019 was transformational for the Female Founders Alliance (FFA).
The organization tripled its membership, launched its programming on a national scale, inked a deal with WeWork, honored an incredible group of women and allies at the Champion Awards gala, and successfully completed its second Ready, Set, Raise Accelerator cohort—which collectively raised $2.7M and counting.
We’ve been proud to sponsor FFA as it works tirelessly to support female and non-binary founders of venture-scale companies. To show our support, we funded a marketing resource—the talented and values-driven Sara LeHoullier—for 2019 to help FFA expand its reach. As the year rapidly winds to a close, let’s take a look back at all the organization accomplished in 12 short months.
But first, what does FFA want you to know about FFA?
“We are #ActionLeaders laser-focused on accelerating the growth of venture-backed companies founded by women and non-binary individuals,” says Divya Kakkad, FFA's Director of Marketing.
“FFA is more than just a group you join to say you're in it. It's a real, action-oriented community of women and non-binary founders.”
Sara LeHoullier, FFA marketing manager, via Simplicity Consulting
And beyond that, membership isn’t just something to pad your LinkedIn profile.
“FFA is more than just a group you join to say you're in it,” says Sara LeHoullier, a Simplicity consultant who’s supporting FFA’s marketing efforts as part of our sponsorship. “It's a real, action-oriented community of women and non-binary founders … and they're so open to talking, helping, connecting with each other—it’s clear that this isn't a zero-sum game.”
And for Sara, that’s exactly why she loves this work.
“Some people are able to separate their work and their personal life completely. I have never been able to do that … I want my work to reflect my values as a human being,” says Sara. “With Simplicity, I've always been able to be myself—and with FFA, I’ve felt the same. We all have different communication styles and personalities, but instead of feeling like I had to conform, I felt like I could bring something a little different to the table. And I believe in the mission of FFA so strongly that it was a natural fit for me.”
“We are #ActionLeaders laser-focused on accelerating the growth of venture-backed companies founded by women and non-binary individuals.”
Divya Kakkad, FFA, Director of Marketing
Expanded Access on a national stage
“We really grew into a national organization,” says Samantha Agee, FFA’s Vice President of Business Alliances. That growth to new markets enabled the organization to meaningfully connect with founders across the country.
The organization received press from Forbes and Fast Company to Cheddar and Tech Crunch, the latter of which dubbed FFA’s accelerator the “Y Combinator for female founders.”
And FFA’s Access Tour, which exists to foster meaningful connections to help female founders move their businesses forward, travelled from Seattle to Portland, LA, and New York. The tour combined panels, AMAs, and 1:1 meetings with an impressive lineup of investors, leaders, and coaches like the Riveter’s Amy Nelson, Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan, Dreambox Learning’s Jessie Woolley Wilson, and HBS professor and WeWork board member Frances X. Frei, to name a few.
“FFA couldn't exist without the support of our partners, so we couldn't have hit any of our milestones without support from our partners, including Simplicity.”
Samantha Agee, FFA, VP of Business Alliances
Ready, Set, Raise! No, really
One of the most tangible effects of FFA’s work is its Ready, Set, Raise (RSR) accelerator program.
The second RSR cohort represented a diverse range of industries, as summarized by TechCrunch:
- Echo Echo: AI-powered tools for podcasters.
- Give InKind: Coordinates support through major life events.
- Honistly: A provider of extended auto warranties to help with short-term cash needs.
- Juicebox It: Modernizes erotica with a chatbot that is arousing and educational.
- Panty Drop: A personalized intimates shopping experience for women sizes XS-6XL.
- The Labz: A platform that protects and memorializes creative content development in real time.
- Tougher: Functional, well-fitted workwear for women in the skilled trades.
Collectively, the cohort’s 8 founders raised nearly $3M as a result of the 6-week accelerator program, says Divya.
“FFA couldn't exist without the support of our partners, so we couldn't have hit any of our milestones without support from our partners, including Simplicity,” says Samantha. “The accelerator is the easiest place to point to: Two of our companies have closed their rounds.”
One of those companies is Give InKind, a smarter giving platform founded by Laura Malcolm of Tacoma, WA. The startup tripled its pre-seed round goal, bringing in $1.5M from Seattle investors.
Pay it forward
It’s FFA’s ambitious goals and meaningful results that attracted us to the organization in the first place.
“I’m committed to FFA’s success because its mission is SO vital: enabling female founders to make their mark and literally change the world,” said Lisa Hufford, Simplicity founder & CEO, in an earlier post detailing why she committed to funding a marketing resource for FFA in 2019.
And for Lisa, supporting FFA is about paying it forward: “As we find success in our careers and learn from the inevitable failures along the way, it’s the responsibility of us all to pay it forward, again and again. Take the meeting. Lend a hand. Teach a lesson. Share your expertise. Those little actions add up to big change in our community.”
Simplicity’s support—funding Sara as a marketing resource for 2019—was critical to FFA’s growth.
“Her passion for women-founded companies and the community at large was apparent in her work,” says Divya. “She helped us move the needle on key metrics like growing our community, newsletter, and social following.”
FFA’s founder and CEO, Leslie Feinzieg, sees Simplicity’s support as the embodiment of a key theme of her message.
"I talk a lot about the importance of sponsorship over mentorship, and Simplicity's support for FFA is exactly what this should look like,” says Leslie. “2019 was only our second year in existence, but it was also a transformational year, one in which we went from a regional community with a single employee using trial and failure to figure out what works, to a national community with proven success stories and a six person team. We could not have done that without Simplicity and without Sara.”
FFA in 2020
The team is energized by the growth they’ve experienced in 2019—and what’s on tap for 2020.
“It’s been amazing to see how the entire community, including Simplicity and investors and all our partners, have come together in that united mission to move these companies forward,” says Samantha.
In the new year, the organization plans to continue its growth into new markets like Boston, San Francisco, and Atlanta, with a goal of being in each major VC hub.
Ultimately, FFA wants to be the biggest community of female and non-binary founders. If this year is any indication, the organization is well on its way.