Inspiring Women in Tech: Interview with Helena Murphy

Helena Murphy, Founder and MD of Raising Partners, talks about the dangers of bad advice, her passions, and the need for men to encourage their female peers to join them in the boardroom.

Our ‘inspiring’ series of interviews continues as we talk with dynamic women who make a difference in the UK’s exciting tech industry.

Helena Murphy is Founder and Managing Director of Raising Partners – a Glasgow-based investment firm – and Raising Partners Angels, a syndicate that invests in companies making a positive impact.

Helena Murphy, Founder and Managing Director of Raising Partners

After experiencing first-hand the dangers of bad advice when raising capital, she founded Raising Partners in 2017 to level the investment playing field and demystify the fundraising process, helping over 155 companies raise over £40 million to-date

How and where did you start your career in tech?

My career in tech started somewhat unusually, as it was the result of a catastrophic failure to raise money for my first business venture. After following poor financial advice in my early twenties, I was left with £100,000 worth of personal debt and suffering from stress-related alopecia. It was this financial devastation and the dissolution of my company that inspired me to learn more about how businesses can raise capital. After three years of working as an investment consultant for businesses looking to raise early-stage funding, I started my own company – Raising Partners – to prevent other business leaders from making the same mistakes that I did. It’s the company that I wish had existed when I was a young founder navigating the world of raising capital.

What sectors are you most passionate about investing in?

Our angel syndicate, Raising Partners Angels, looks specifically for three main criteria in the businesses we back – positive impact on people, the planet and processes.

As an example, we recently invested £200,000 in Zero Petroleum, the British tech company producing net-zero synthetic fuels, because we believe in backing creative, climate-friendly ventures. I am also looking to expand our involvement in other innovative sectors, such as FemTech and EdTech, and hope to play an active role in diversifying the ethical entrepreneurial ecosystem in the UK.

What’s the most pressing issue for women in fintech today?

Despite some progress, fintech and investment are still largely male-dominated fields. Currently, only 13% of investors in the UK are women, and Diversity VC revealed in 2019 that only 10% of senior VCs roles in the UK were taken up by women. These statistics reflect how lonely and competitive it can feel for a woman working in a male-heavy and historically macho sector.

It’s simple: women need to be playing a larger role in deciding where investment goes. But for this to happen, the male leaders of the venture capital and fintech worlds need to lower the drawbridge and encourage women to have equal representation at the table.

How can men in fintech support gender diversity in the sector?

It is not enough for male CEOs and business leaders to simply bring more junior women into their fintech companies. Men must also encourage their female peers to join them in the boardroom. The fintech sector needs influential women’s voices in order to reflect the world we live in and give everyone equal opportunity to advance their financial health.

On top of this, I would also like to see women represented more in the fintech media – podcasts, newsletters, earnings calls and so on. There is still a lingering macho presence in the sector, one that can be exorcised only by the men who summoned it. By backing women in the boardroom and behind the microphone, men can contribute towards creating a more equal and diverse – and thereby richer – sector.

How do you think fintech solutions can help advance women’s financial health?

Fintech is the future – from digital payment platforms to online investment consultancies, these solutions have the power to advance anyone’s financial wellbeing. Advanced and complicated financial technology can be exclusionary, whereas online and user-friendly solutions are an equaliser in many respects, and can help give women both financial visibility and independence.

Have a read of the previous ‘Inspiring Women in Tech’ interview – with Olga Beck-Friis, COO and Co-Founder of PocketLaw – here.

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