Local female entrepreneurs shared their experience and expertise in a panel Thursday night.

The panel, hosted by University of Wisconsin student organization Transcend, discussed the restrictions they’ve experienced in a field lacking in women leaders.

Alexandra Suprise, technology investment associate at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, said  representation is vital to entrepreneurship and a lack of female investors negatively impacts entrepreneurial ventures.

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“One disadvantage women face is that so many investors are men. Companies that have more women-focused products or services, there’s a disconnect,” Suprise said. “In my previous company we were in fashion and … a lot of funds are run by men who just don’t understand the worlds of cosmetics and fashion as much, so they’re not as likely to invest because they don’t realize the opportunity.”

It is necessary for women to be represented in the field of entrepreneurship because they think differently and can bring a different perspective that often balances projects, Gretchen Gilbertson, CEO and co-founder of the technology company Seura, Inc., said.

Panels like the one held Thursday night and mentorship are key to promoting and advancing women in the field, Gilbertson added. 

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Imposter syndrome plays a huge role in discouraging women from the field and making them feel as though they don’t belong, Richelle Martin, managing director of the Madison venture capital fund Winnow Fund, said.

But everything is new in this field, Martin said, and women should be encouraged to be fearless and explore the opportunities in front of them.

Despite being told her business would never work in Madison, Gilbertson said location didn’t really matter. What mattered was her ability to work with the resources she had, Gilbertson said. 

Gilbertson advised the audience to celebrate victories big and small and to recognize the success of your business on a daily basis. 

Taralinda Willis, CEO and co-founder of Curate Solutions, a market intelligence company, said being an entrepreneur has prepared her for any challenge and helped her become more comfortable with failing. Learning from her failures moves her and her business forward, she said. 

“Finding people and believing in them is really important,” Willis said. “Helping [women] develop their career and staying committed to that development is what’s important.”