Siún Ní Raghallaigh, CEO TunePresto, on Pitching like a Professional

Siún Ní Raghallaigh is CEO of TunePresto, Ireland. In 2003, Siún co-founded Abaltat, a software company that developed a radical new application that composes original royalty-free background music to match a video. After becoming a Regional InterTrade Ireland Seedcorn Competition winner in 2004, the company was successful in attracting funding and started development in 2005. Since then, the original concept has turned into a range of commercial products. An online version of the music maker has just launched as Tunepresto. You can find Siún on Twitter @SiunNI & TunePresto @tunepresto.

Pemo: Could you tell me briefly about your past history in sourcing venture capital?

Siun: Yeah ok, I suppose I could go back to my television production days because I was having many ventures to set up every time I did a production. So you’re going out & you’re pitching basic concept & you’re raising money from different funders & you’re putting together co-production deals. When I founded this company TunePresto & we set about to raise funding for this, it didn’t scare me.

I was used to pitching & I was used to rejection.

Pemo: So you were pretty much a professional when you started then?

Siun: Yeah but it was a whole new world all the same because you have different people. Basically that’s what it’s about, it’s about people & it’s about networking.

Pemo: Brilliant that’s fantastic!

Pemo: What personal lessons being a woman have you taken out of your successes &/or failures in that regard?

Siun: Yeah, probably just have as ‘hard a neck’ as the men.

Pemo: Ok and of course in Ireland they call it a ‘hard neck’ but for the rest of the world it would be something like a thick skin, correct?

Siun: Correct, that too! And just perseverance, stamina. I think whether you’re male or female it’s the same.

If you really, really believe in what it is that you’re doing & of course you’re going to get rejections. But you should learn from it, why it was rejected & adjust your pitch & move on.

Pemo: Very good!

Pemo: What attitudes towards you being female have you noted from venture capitalists when you have been sourcing venture?

Siun: Not being a man, I don’t know how they’re treated. I don’t think it matters.

I think it’s just if your idea is good, your pitch is good & they believe in you & you have enough passion for whatever it is you’re doing, you have to get that across. It’s a sales job!

I haven’t noticed anything different that I would imagine. Talking to men who’ve raised money, I don’t think it’s anything different.

Pemo: Great well that’s really good news.

Pemo: What qualities do you think women entrepreneurs need specifically for sourcing venture?

Siun: I think it helps to be confident. I don’t want to generalize either, because there’s tons & tons of confident women. Sometimes when you’re starting out whether you’re male or female, it takes a while to build up that confidence. And sticking with what you’re saying so people will question you. That’s what it’s about, it’s a two way process. But believe in what you’re saying & of course it should be able to stand up to scrutiny.

Pemo: Fantastic!

Pemo: In your opinion what percentage of women would qualify then as regards having these qualities? Could they be developed? If so what are your ideas about how this could happen because the amount of women who do achieve funding in comparison to men is very low? This is really a question about how we can start to change that.

Siun: Yeah you’re right, the statistics are there, there are less that achieve funding. But that’s because there are less women that set up businesses. That’s another statistic. So maybe if we looked at it in the proportionality of that, maybe it wouldn’t be as bad.

I think the question should probably be, how do we encourage more women to get into entrepreneurial roles to set up business, to bring forward the ideas. And I think that is something that can be taught.

Pemo: Brilliant, & of course we have to backtrack & maybe even backtrack even further. Some of the people in the valley say we need to get more girls into technical studies. I guess it goes back even further.

Siun: And it goes back even further than that because it’s a social problem. It’s how society is structured & how we are educated. Do we make a distinction between the male & female education system? Are girls getting equal opportunity to boys at the primary level, at the secondary level & so on.

Pemo: Do you think that the challenges that women entrepreneurs/startups have historically faced, mean that we will always be under represented sourcing venture?

Siun: No, I think that even in the past 10 years, you can see, probably not my generation but the next generation. My generation in Ireland anyway we weren’t as confident in terms of women, weren’t as encouraged in that way but now everybody is encouraged regardless of sex. I think it is changing, I can see it changing. I can only imagine that it’s going to get better.

Pemo: You are a non-technical CoFounder, do you believe that it is easier for technical women founders to achieve venture funding than non-technical? If so what are your reasons for this?

Siun: I think raising funding is about the people, the team, the idea of course & the belief in the people that you’re pitching to in your ability to execute the idea.

So I think that there is a level of confidence that funders will get if they see that there’s a good strong technical base & theres equally a good strong managerial base that can execute the whole idea to get into a business. So I think that whether its a male or a female that has the technical ability, I don’t think it matters.

Pemo: Ok so as long as you’ve got a technical cofounder on your team or someone on your team that can execute as far as delivering the service, you think that it shouldn’t hold you back?

Siun: Yeah & that you & that person, me perhaps the CEO & the CTO have a common vision & you can see that we work well together. That’s the type of message that the potential funders want to see coming across in the pitch.

Pemo: Could you list some of the advantages of gender diversity in a startup? Are there any disadvantages?

Siun: I think a mix of gender is the way. I think if you walk into a startup & it’s all men, it’s very one sided. Equally if you walk into a startup where it’s all women, it’s very one sided. So basically men & women are different, it’s probably proven in lots of studies or whatever. Women tend to be very practical about getting things done. I think it’s all about balance. I don’t think it’s good for it to be all male or to be all female.

Pemo: And of course a startup needs to represent the community that it’s targeting & there are men & women in the community so I guess that it would help you?

Siun: Most definitely.

Pemo: That’s great, thank you so much for your time today. I know that you’ve just launched your service & you’ve been incredibly busy. I really appreciate it & I wish you all the best.

Siun: Thanks very much.

Thanks to Alexander Blu for music ‘Moderato’

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