Leslie Feinzaig knows how hard it is to let go of a failed startup idea. In 2016 she launched Venture Kits, a tech company that helped introduce entrepreneurship to kids. Even when it became clear that the business wasn’t taking off as planned, Feinzaig admits that she held on for too long. It was hard to give up.
“For women especially, it’s really scary to fail,” she said. “It feels like you’ll be punished and not given another chance.”
Feinzaig wants to pass her lessons learned to other entrepreneurs and encourage them to “fail fast.” That’s why the Seattle-based organization she heads up, Female Founders Alliance (FFA), is partnering with Seattle startup studio Pioneer Square Labs (PSL) for the FFA Founder Challenge.
The new initiative welcomes any entrepreneur to test a hypothesis within 30 days. The idea is to talk to customers and get market validation for your startup idea — or move quickly to something else.
The challenge starts Sept. 3. Members of FFA, a startup organization Feinzaig launched in 2017 to help women entrepreneurs land funding, are encouraged to participate, but it’s open to anyone with an idea — all genders, all stages, all geographies. PSL and FFA will provide support during and after the challenge.
“I”ve seen so many women-founded companies make incremental progress for very long periods of time,” Feinzaig said. “They never really push it so much to the point where it can grow, but they also don’t push it to where it can fail.”
Rapidly testing potential new businesses is in the DNA of PSL, which has spun out 15 companies since launching in 2016 — and killed hundreds of other ideas in the process. PSL also has a venture capital arm.
“We are so proud of how PSL’s unique approach to testing wild, bold ideas has empowered a diverse set of local founders to take swings that are not only big, but also driven by in-depth, real-time customer learnings,” said PSL Managing Director Julie Sandler. “We’re psyched to do this with Leslie, the FFA team, and aspiring founders at even broader scale over the month of September.”