Women are quickly becoming the face of entrepreneurship. Studies show that in recent years the percentage of the growth rate of female entrepreneurs is at least double than that of men. Though the number of female entrepreneurs is beautifully increasing, women are more likely to be denied for loans by venture capitalists, compared to a man. Though this is troubling, Just Fearless CEO Kisha Mays is working to change the narrative and help female entrepreneurs reach their goals.
Mays is a self-made businesswoman who has built a multimillion-dollar enterprise and is now looking to invest and fund other women business owners. The recently launched Just Fearless Angels Network is a multimillion-dollar fund exclusively for female-founded and led businesses.
“I just want women to succeed and I’m putting my money where my mouth is to back it up,” said Mays.
Just Fearless is also set to host the inaugural Just Fearless Women Rising Festival in Miami, March 2018.
Rolling out caught up with Mays to discuss her initiative, investment, and what female founders of startups should know.
Tell us about Just Fearless.
It is a business development firm. Most of my team is based in Hong Kong, Dubai and Dublin, and we’re opening a fourth office in Miami to enter the South American market. What we do is work primarily with [female]-owned businesses, and help them scale into new markets. So say [a business] is based in mainland China and they want to take their product or service into Australia, New Zealand, or even western Europe. My team helps them do that — strategy wise and revenue wise.
What’s your backstory?
Believe it or not, I did not finish college. I went [because] my mother wanted me to go but I did not go for myself. I knew back when I was 18 years old I was going to be an entrepreneur. I was never going to work for anyone else. My background would be PR and marketing. That is pretty much what I had done working for different pharmaceutical companies and airlines. From there I started, almost 10 years ago, Just Fearless. The name came about because people who knew me would call me “just fearless.” They would say “you’ll try anything. There’s no fear there. You’ll’ go to Hong Kong and not know anyone but think you can go into business simply because you can.” That’s where that fearlessness came from and just building it and watching my business evolve. I like working with woman. It’s something I’m passionate about and drawn to. I just wanted to do it in a way that’s on an impactful scale.
What made you form the Just Fearless Angels Network?
About a year and a half ago I set the goal that I wanted to help one million entrepreneurs. I physically couldn’t do that one-on-one in a lifetime. But I [wondered] how could I do this. Then I started seeing a bunch of articles about venture capitals not really funding women, especially minority women. [We] are getting about .2 percent of total funding from venture capitalists. [I realized] that was my angle because if the need is not being met, I can do that to reach my goal. It was a dream I couldn’t shake. I had to do this.
What should female entrepreneurs have before they approach a business like yours?
It needs to be more than an idea. It needs to be something that’s been tested. It needs to be already started, incorporated with a website, and promoted. It needs to show there’s a need [for the product or service]. Show that it works. When it shows that it works, there’s so much more flexibility.
Tell us about the One Million Strong Campaign.
I want one million profitable female entrepreneurs generating at least one million each in revenue by Dec. 31, 2025. It will contribute one trillion dollars to the global GDP. [Women] have the spending power so why not invest it in ourselves and help other women scale up. It’s meant to facilitate the Angel Fund and also the support systems to make sure it’s not just us spending money. It’s also like an advisory so business can be done the right way.
In order to participate, what percentage of your business needs to be female owned?
It has to be 100% female-owned. I [also] like to see female executives. I want to see women in management. Does that mean we will turn you down if you don’t have a woman in management besides yourself? No. But it would really help to see growth not just on the entrepreneurial side, but also on the career and professional side, because that’s needed- more women in leadership.
What can we expect at the Just Fearless Women Rising Festival next March in Miami?
That is a series of three events. The first one will kick off March 8, which is International Women’s Day. That will be an economic empowerment summit that brings together not just professional speakers but entrepreneurs who are well-known and successful. The second night, [March 9.], is a celebration of women that will be honoring women like Sheila E. Then, March 10 is the finale and that will take place at Marlins Park and that will be the actual music festival. It will be 100% female artists. We will have A-List headliners and opening acts. It’s just all about women- women economic growth and empowerment. It will be positive and impactful.