For women entrepreneurs (and anyone sick of the status quo), this smart, unapologetic collection delivers fifty proven hacks to leapfrog over obstacles and succeed in business.
"A must-read for any woman who has a great idea and the nagging thought that doors are closed to her; Molina Niño helps to blow them open."--
Think the most critical factor for becoming a great entrepreneur is grit, risk-taking, or technical skills? Think again. Despite what every other business book might say, historical data show the real secret ingredients to getting ahead in business are being rich, white, and male.
Leapfrog is the decades-overdue startup bible for the rest of us. It''s filled with uncompromising guidance for winning at business, your way.
Leapfrog is for entrepreneurs of all stripes who are fed up with status quo advice--the kind that assumes you have rich friends and family and a public relations team.
Refreshingly frank and witty, author Nathalie Molina Niño is a serial tech entrepreneur, the founder and CEO of BRAVA Investments, and a proud daughter of Latinx immigrants. While teaching budding entrepreneurs at Barnard College at Columbia University and searching the globe for investment-worthy startups, she has met or advised thousands of entrepreneurs who''ve gone from zero to scalable business. Here she shares their best secrets in the form of fifty "leapfrogs"--clever loopholes and shortcuts to outsmart, jump over, or straight up annihilate the seemingly intractable hurdles facing entrepreneurs who don''t have family money, cultural capital, or connections.
“A must-read for any woman who has a great idea and the nagging thought that doors are closed to her; Molina Niño helps to blow them open.”—
“No-nonsense strategies for starting and growing a business, especially if you don’t have deep pockets.”—
“We are the leaders we have been waiting for, and with advice from this incredible guide, I believe we will win the fight for gender equity.”—
Bob Bland, national cochair, Women’s March on Washington
Leapfrog’s scrappy yet sophisticated advice helps aspiring entrepreneurs from all backgrounds understand how to be the CEOs of our own lives and the creators of our destinies.”—
Jamia Wilson, executive director and publisher, Feminist Press, City University of New York
“A must-have for every woman, budding entrepreneur or not. [It’s] packed with practical and relevant advice—you can’t help but be emboldened to take that first step toward making your business idea a reality.”—
Jacki Zehner, president of the Jacquelyn and Gregory Zehner Foundation, chief engagement officer and cofounder of Women Moving Millions
“For those of us who don’t have an MBA or a million-dollar network to pave the way, we have Nathalie’s helpful hacks to catapult us into the C-suite and beyond.”—
Ruthie Ackerman, deputy editor of Women@Forbes
“There is hidden money and opportunity in America. Nathalie provides the shortcuts to solve the puzzle and go get it! No excuses—
Leapfrog is the how!”—
Nely Galán, author of
New York Times–bestselling
Self Made: Becoming Empowered, Self-Reliant, and Rich in Every Way
Leapfrog is a shot of founder/CEO/executive know-how into the bloodstream. I have never had starting or running business explained to me like this. Not only do I feel like I have to launch my business, I feel like I deny myself a world of experiences, community, philanthropy, self-love and self-knowledge by not launching my business.
Leapfrog is a
major key guaranteed to unlock your entrepreneurial spirit and convert any aspiring CEO from a dreamer into a doer."—
Melani Douglass, Founder, Family Arts Museum & The Well Nana
“Filled with practical advice for real women on everything from funding to finding a network; Nathalie understands that women want to build from the heart, and that how you get there is just as important as where you’re going.”—
Danielle Kayembe, CEO of GreyFire Impact, and author of
The Silent Rise of the Female-Driven Economy
“It’s the future of entrepreneurship. I couldn’t put it down!”—
Rakia Reynolds, founder and CEO, Skai Blue Media
“I believe everyone has the entrepreneurial spirit within them—the information and inspiration within
Leapfrog will serve to empower all women for generations to come.”—
Nina Vaca, founder, chairman, and CEO, Pinnacle Group
“A blueprint for women like me, who have the will, but need the way.”—
Erika Alexander, writer, actress, and cofounder, Color Farm Media
“Brash, ballsy, brilliant.
Leapfrog is packed with practical wisdom from the front lines of entrepreneurship.”—
Gloria Feldt, cofounder and president of Take the Lead, author of
No Excuses, and former president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America
“With Nathalie Molina Niño’s help, maybe we can finally thwart the system that has kept women from thriving.”—
Marie C. Wilson, honorary founder and president emerita, Ms. Foundation for Women, founder and president emerita, The White House Project, advisory board chair, VoteRunLead, Athena Fellow, Barnard College, senior advisor, Brava Investments
“The new playbook for the modern entrepreneur who is redefining success on her own terms, and Nathalie is clearly rooting for all of us.”—
Tiffany Dufu, tiffanydufu.com
“What made my soul reverberate was Nathalie’s total and complete abandon to the fact that she could do something if she thought of it. Bring your best game—the road map is in your hands.”—
Lola C. West, managing director, WestFuller Advisors LLC
“A definite must-read for any woman entrepreneur serious about scaling.”—
Melanie Hawken, Lionesses of Africa
Leapfrog cuts through the typical ‘lift yourself up by your bootstraps’ advice (applicable only to those with privilege) and peels back that onion to get to the delicious truth of the hustle that is possible for entrepreneurs often locked out of the system.”—
Kat Cole, COO and president, North America, Focus Brands
“If you have this book, it will change your life, whether you are on an entrepreneurial path or just dreaming of taking the leap.”—
Whitney Smith, principal at Whit and Wisdom Consulting, chief of strategy and brand at The Dream Corps, and strategist at Magic Labs Media
“I cannot recommend
Leapfrog too highly—it’s the secret weapon we all need in the face of rich white male privilege to help level the entrepreneurial playing field.”—
Cindy Gallop, founder and CEO, MakeLoveNotPorn and AllTheSkyHoldings
“Nathalie Molina Niño has finally given us the book we’ve been wanting about women entrepreneurs in the twenty-first century.”—
Jimmie Briggs, cofounder, Man Up Campaign, NYC Gender Equity Commission
Nathalie Molina Niño is the CEO and founder of BRAVA Investments, investing in high-growth, innovative businesses that deliver a measurable economic benefit to women. A technologist and coder by training, Molina Niño launched her first tech startup at the age of twenty. Molina Niño is also the cofounder Entrepreneurs@Athena at the Athena Center for Leadership Studies of Barnard College at Columbia University. She has served as a business and global growth advisor to industry leaders in the for- and non-profit sectors, including Disney, Microsoft, MTV, Mattel, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Most recently, she stepped in as CRO of PowerToFly and led the launch campaign for Nely Galán''s
New York Times bestseller and company,
Women receive just 2.5 percent of venture capital (VC) funding— and of those, about 0.2 percent are women of color. Women simply don’t have access to the capital that men do.
I recently spoke on a panel of women investors to a packed room of both women and men eager to talk about how to get to gender parity in business. As we talked about market trends we’d been seeing, I mentioned one that seems at odds with the stats just mentioned: Black women and Latinx are starting companies at a faster rate than anyone else in this country. In fact, 78 percent of new women-owned firms are started by women of color. When we got to the Q& A period, a wise woman in the front row directed a question to one of my co‑panelists, a woman who runs a fund that invests in early-stage, women-led businesses, largely in tech.
“You said today that you’ve invested in more than sixty companies,” she said. “Nathalie was talking about how women of color are starting companies more than anyone else in this country. How many of your sixty- plus companies are led by women of color?”
If you identify with what I’ve written so far, I doubt you’ll be surprised to hear the answer: Big. Fat. Zero.
Big fat zero is a big fat problem. Women—and women of color in particular—are starting businesses like crazy, but they rarely grow beyond supporting their owner, too small to court investment. In the case of my co‑panelist who funds women- owned startups, the problem is more complex than simply turning down women of color. She has a pipeline problem that goes beyond race. The entrepreneurs making it into VC conference rooms represent a tiny, privileged sliver of women. They are mostly white and well-off, with institutions like HBS, Goldman, or Google on their résumés.
They’re still kickass founders, and funds like my co‑panelist’s are doing important work. But if you’re like most women, you have no idea how you’re going to get into any investor’s office. You probably haven’t grown beyond solopreneurship or the side hustle because you’ve got one or all of these problems:
· You don’t have personal capital—tens of thousands of dollars in a rainy-day fund —or the spare time to spot opportunities, strategize, and think big.
· You don’t have friends or family who can invest their money or contribute key resources, like time with the family lawyer or a rent-free place to live.
· You didn’t go to fancy schools, so you don’t have ready-made networks and cultural capital to create the client and marketing relationships that would help you jump to the next level.
Without these assets, many bright, entrepreneurial women get stuck in what I have started to call the Valley of Death—that long stretch between a one-woman show and a scalable business that becomes a household name. Many women never make the shift to entrepreneur at all. We’re too busy paying rent or putting food on the table.
This opportunity gap is why I founded BRAVA Investments. We invest in companies not based on whether they have women founders but on whether they can prove that they will economically benefit as many women as possible. My goal isn’t to find a woman and make her into the next Zuckerbergian billionaire so much as it’s to find companies that can level the playing field for a billion women. I want companies that can change systems, by putting money and power in the pockets of many women so they can be armed with those bootstraps everyone’s so fond of romanticizing. Only then will we see women begin to rival men in building companies that change the future of their families and the world.
But I’m impatient, one of my better qualities. So one day I started thinking: BRAVA is important because it attacks the systemic problem, but how do I help the women who are ready to be entrepreneurs today? How do I help all of them make it past the Valley of Death?
I started thinking about something I had seen in South America. In the Andes, where my family is from, indigenous farmers who never had a landline now walk around with two smartphones in their pockets, a technological advance that has allowed them to bank, shop, and even sell their products and services to anyone in the world. They have leapfrogged what outsiders would have thought were absolute limitations on their potential.
And so I started to ask myself—and soon, every entrepreneur I knew—a question: What would be the equivalent of two smartphones in the pockets of every woman in this country who wanted to beat the odds to build and grow a business?
From there Leapfrog was born, a compilation of the best hacks I’ve come across to work around, leap over, or straight‑up annihilate the seemingly intractable hurdles facing those of you trying to cross the Valley of Death, or bootstrap without bootstraps. I’ve called upon everyone I know who has gone from zero to scalable business to share their best secrets. People like:
· Arlan Hamilton, who was sleeping on the floor of San Francisco’s airport when she finally signed the first investor to Backstage Capital, her fund focused on women-, people of color–, and LGBT- led businesses.
· John Henry, a black Latinx doorman who started a dry-cleaning delivery service, grew it to fifteen employees, built an app, and then was acquired for $1 million by one of his vendors—all by the age of twenty-one.
· Kat Cole, who started her career as a Hooters waitress and became the president of Cinnabon and now the COO of Focus Brands, the parent company to Cinnabon, Auntie Anne’s, and Carvel, among others, which together have supported thousands of new entrepreneurs by offering affordable franchise business opportunities.
You’ll learn about their personal experiences with loopholes and shortcuts that work even if you aren’t starting with money, cultural capital, or connections. Use this book to support you as you leap higher and faster than anyone—including we ourselves—thinks possible.