Can Estrogen Fuel Our Global Economy?

When I was 24, I raised a $4 million round of venture funding from Sequoia Capital. I was arrogant and self-involved, so I felt like I fit in pretty well with all those men over on Sand Hill Road. Until, one day I disagreed with one of the partners over the firing of one of my employees.

“You little bitch.” He screamed at me over the phone.

“Consider your company bankrupt.”

The rest of the drama was only healthy for the lawyers.

Pretty quickly I got out of the business I had co-founded and ran off to the polite, considerably more well-mannered enclave of business school. And, after that, to stay-at-home motherhood.

And now as I dip my toe back into the entrepreneurial world I see a very different landscape, a landscape that helps me keep my faith in the global economy.

Here’s what I see: Women can save the day.

The latest evidence:

A 29 year-old entrepreneur Demet Mutlu, founder and CEO of — a private Turkish shopping site, just raised a record breaking $26 million from venture capital firms Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) and Tiger Global.

This is the first time a woman has raised this much money in Turkey. It is KPCB’s first investment in Turkey. And it was done by two female partners from KPCB, Mary Meeker and Aileen Lee.

Can you hear the glass shattering?

This was despite the fact that studies show only 3-5 percent of women who run businesses get funded, and less than 10 percent of those working in the VC field globally are women.

But recent deals like Mutlu’s show a very different environment in Silicon Valley, where women VCs level the playing field for women entrepreneurs one deal at a time.

Mutlu’s Istanbul-based shopping site has exploded to 4 million members in just 16 months. This customer-service driven company has employed many unique business strategies: no offices, rotating desks, private label products and allowing customers to vote on what new fashions it will stock.

“We are a customer obsessed team. Every area of the company, even finance, thinks about customer service,” Demet told me in a phone call from Istanbul.

And they are not selling burquas. “Conservative doesn’t sell on Trendyol,” Demet says when I ask about selling clothes in an Islamic country. “Right now shorts and high heels are our top sellers.”

Taking advantage of women’s global purchasing power, Turkey’s growing economy and its high level of Internet usage, Mutlu, Aileen Lee and Mary Meeker are creating new statistics. And it is happening here in the U.S., too.

Media outlets are taking notice of this trend. The Mercury News reported on a similar investment:

“The deal hinged on the long-term relationship between the founder, a serial entrepreneur, and a venture capitalist who has become a leading figure in e-commerce startups… In other words, it’s the kind of thing that happens every day in Silicon Valley — except for one crucial detail: They’re both women. And that makes the story of Joyus founder Sukhinder Singh Cassidy and Accel Partners’ Theresia Gouw Ranzetta worth highlighting.”

Although women are leaving the VC field at a much higher rate than men, the power of those few women VCs remaining and their growing network of women CEOs is having an enormous impact on women who run startups and, as a result, on our global economy.

“Firms with women investment partners are 70 percent more likely to lead an investment in a woman entrepreneur than those with only male partners,” said a recent report from Illuminate Ventures.

This presents a gigantic disruption of one of the last bastions of old boy networks. And hopefully a change from the testosterone driven, cut-throat world I entered 14 years ago

It’s about time, not just for social and cultural reasons, but because of hard economic fact.

“Between 1997 and 2006, businesses fully women-owned, or majority-owned by women, grew at nearly twice the rate of all U.S. firms (42.3 percent vs. 23.3 percent).”

And it is not just about our business savvy, but it is also about our purchasing power.

“Women oversee over 80 percent of consumer spending, or about $5 trillion dollars annually.” KP venture capitalist and Tryndyol investor, Aileen Lee, wrote on Techcrunch. “Women control the purse strings when it comes to disposable income. That’s long been the case.”

“But what’s different now is that there is an exciting new crop of e-commerce companies building real revenue and real community, really fast, by purposefully harnessing the power of female consumers. One Kings Lane, Plum District, Stella & Dot, Rent the Runway, Modcloth, BirchBox, Shoedazzle, Zazzle, Callaway Digital Arts, and Shopkick are just a few examples of companies leveraging ‘girl power.’ The majority of these companies were also founded by women, which is also an exciting trend.”

How encouragingly far away that is from “little bitch.”

This column first appeared in Huffington Post Women