Rachel Pendered discusses raising finance as a female CEO following BGF's recent investment in Media Zoo – Business Leader

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James Cook
September 23, 2022
In this guest article, Rachel Pendered,  the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Media Zoom, discusses raising finance as a female CEO following a recent investment from BGF.
Over the past 20 years, I’ve definitely tackled more obstacles than I ever could have imagined. From launching Media Zoo in 2003 to growing a successful team of talented individuals, to raising capital during a global pandemic – it has been a bumpy yet extremely rewarding ride.
In April 2022, Media Zoo – an award-winning creative comms, film and digital agency – received substantial growth capital from the British Growth Fund (BGF). Partnering with BGF has enabled us to expand into two new territories, make a raft of acquisitions and increase organic growth, whilst continuing to promote our ethos of using creativity as a force for good.
One of the things I care most passionately about is improving opportunities for other female entrepreneurs. According to The Rose Review, only a penny in every pound of investment goes to female-led businesses, and whilst things are improving, it is still far from being a level playing field. Female entrepreneurs are not invested in as much as our male counterparts and the gender gap in the corporate landscape is a battle that persists daily.
I’ve always been ambitious and keen to drive positive change and break traditional stereotypes. I strive to turn all the bias against women in leadership into my inspiration to make Media Zoo an environment undefined by gender, but defined by the hard work and creativity put forward by employees on every level.
Thanks to the pioneering work being done by leaders such as Alison Rose, the CEO of NatWest bank, and phenomenal entrepreneurs around the world such as Sara Blakely, Whitney Woolfe Herd and Sara Murray OBE, successful female business leaders are showing that if you can see her, you can be her!
Rachel Pendered
When it comes to raising finance as a female entrepreneur – it is tough, but it is possible. I’ve learned that as much as it’s important to do your research and know your stats, it is essential to surround yourself with people who inspire and motivate you to do and be better. Being part of truly inspiring networks such as EY’s Winning Women has opened doors for me and provided a springboard for my ideas, as well as the opportunity to meet some truly inspiring women.
It’s true that investors aren’t only interested in your business, they need to be confident that they are the right investor for you. So, invest in yourself and consider all of the investment options available – from crowdfunding to growth capital, to private equity and angel investors. They all offer something unique that may be right for your business depending on the stage you are at.
I found that it helps to define what makes you and your company unique and have a clear three to five-year plan of how you intend to use the investment to grow your company.
The media industry has long been male-dominated but change is happening, and the world is nothing like what it was when I first began my career. Increasingly, women are supporting women and male allies are calling out bias whenever they can. We are starting a new chapter filled with female empowerment and equality in the workplace and need to make sure this legacy is carried on by future generations.
I now see it as an obligation to support as many women as I can through being the mentor I once needed as a young entrepreneur. We need to continue to break the bias and show our value in the industry and ensure that all female entrepreneurs continue inspiring and supporting each other along with our male allies.
It’s not always smooth sailing, and there will be those people who doubt your ability to succeed. But that’s why it’s critical to have a laser focus approach to all your goals. Although it has been proven that gender diversity often leads to higher financial returns, a tiny portion of venture capital today is awarded to female-led businesses.
However, this is changing. More diverse investors opens the opportunity for diverse investment in the next generation of female entrepreneurs, whatever age they are!
Investment is definitely a huge step forward, but it would mean nothing without the support, collaboration and drive of all our employees here at Media Zoo who hone these skills at the core of our culture. To the next generation of female entrepreneurs, my biggest piece of advice is to have the courage to take the first step, and always remember that the worst anyone can say is no. As harsh as it may sound, every no is closer to a yes.
Always be true to yourself, stay focused on your vision and walk away from any opportunity knowing that you’ve given it your all.
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