The Transformative Role of Boards of Directors and Advisory Boards for Women Founders

Women founders have been increasingly making their mark in the entrepreneurial landscape, creating innovative businesses and contributing to economic growth. However, the path to success can be challenging, filled with uncertainties and complex decisions. One powerful tool that can significantly benefit women founders on their journey is the formation of a board of directors or an advisory board. In this article, we’ll explore why having these boards can be a game-changer for women-led startups, using examples from successful companies. We’ll also delve into how these boards help secure funding from investors and accelerate growth and traction.

The Power of Collective Wisdom

  1. Strategic Guidance: Having a board of directors or an advisory board brings together a group of experienced professionals who can offer valuable strategic guidance. Consider the example of Airbnb, a company that faced rapid growth and complex challenges. By having seasoned executives on their board, they received critical insights on expanding their global footprint and navigating regulatory hurdles.

    Funding Impact: Having a well-structured board with influential members can instill confidence in potential investors. Investors are more likely to support companies with a clear and strategic approach to growth.

  2. Access to Networks: Boards often come with extensive networks. When Stitch Fix, an online personal styling service, formed its board, they brought in executives with connections to the fashion industry. This network facilitated valuable partnerships and collaborations, essential for their success.

    Funding Impact: A well-connected board can introduce startups to potential investors and strategic partners, making it easier to secure funding and grow the business.

Building Credibility and Attracting Investors

  1. Investor Confidence: Investors often look for startups with a well-structured board. Take the case of The RealReal, a luxury consignment company. They attracted prominent investors due to their board’s expertise in fashion, e-commerce, and sustainability. This investor confidence played a significant role in their growth.
  2. Funding Impact: An experienced board can be a persuasive factor when pitching to investors. It shows that the company has access to valuable insights and guidance, reducing perceived risks for investors.\
  3. Risk Mitigation: A board can help mitigate risks by offering diverse perspectives and providing a system of checks and balances. Tesla, an electric vehicle pioneer, faced numerous challenges. With a board featuring automotive and technology experts, they could navigate complex issues and maintain their market position.Funding Impact: Demonstrating effective risk management and oversight through a board can make a startup more attractive to risk-averse investors.

Strategic Decision-Making and Mentorship

  1. Mentorship: A board of directors or advisory board can also serve as a source of mentorship. Many successful founders have benefited from the guidance and mentorship of seasoned advisors. Consider the example of Slack, a team collaboration platform, where advisors with extensive experience in the tech industry played a crucial role in shaping their growth strategy.
  2. Funding Impact: Mentorship from experienced board members can help founders refine their pitch and growth strategies, increasing the likelihood of securing investment.
  3. Fostering Innovation: The diversity of thought within a board can foster innovation. For example, Glossier, a beauty and skincare brand, established a diverse board to drive innovation in the beauty industry. This diversity of perspectives helped them create unique products and experiences.Funding Impact: Innovative companies are often more appealing to investors. A board that fosters innovation can help attract investment from those seeking disruptive and forward-thinking ventures.

Enhancing Accountability and Transparency

  1. Accountability: Boards ensure accountability at various levels within a company. Take the case of Beyond Meat, a plant-based meat producer. Their board, which includes experts in sustainability and nutrition, contributes to their accountability in delivering environmentally-friendly and healthy products.
  2. Funding Impact: Accountability is a key factor in building trust with investors. Boards that promote transparency and accountability can help attract investment by demonstrating a commitment to ethical and responsible business practices.
  3. Transparency: Transparency is vital for building trust with stakeholders. Salesforce, a customer relationship management platform, has a board that focuses on ethical business practices. This transparency enhances trust among customers and investors.Funding Impact: Transparent communication about ethical practices can be a significant selling point for impact investors and those seeking socially responsible investments.


Boards Empower Women Founders

In the dynamic world of entrepreneurship, women founders face unique challenges and opportunities. The journey can be significantly enhanced by establishing a board of directors or an advisory board. These boards provide strategic guidance, access to networks, credibility, and mentorship. They also play a crucial role in risk mitigation, accountability, and transparency.

Examples from successful companies like Airbnb, Stitch Fix, The RealReal, Tesla, Slack, Glossier, Beyond Meat, and Salesforce illustrate the power of collaboration and guidance. By fostering the formation of boards in the startups they support, women founders can excel, innovate, get funded, and make a lasting impact.


Since 1998, Coco has been on a mission to align business purpose with profit. As a serial entrepreneur and a consultant to founders, Coco has built five companies and supported hundreds of businesses. She is the Founder of Allume Home Care, Co-Owner and board member of All Pointe HomeCare, and creator of A Force for Good. Coco currently serves as the Chair of the Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home, Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee for WorldWide Orphans, Trustee of the Oliver Wolcott Library, and on the Campaign Committee of Kimball Union Academy.

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