Springboard’s Amy Millman
Leveling the playing field for women, by women
One of the biggest obstacles for women entrepreneurs is securing funding, as women-founded businesses tend to start with less capital and receive less funding. But Springboard Enterprises is changing that. Conceived in 1999 and launched in 2000, Springboard is dedicated to levelling the playing field and advancing women entrepreneurs’ access to capital.
And they’re succeeding mightily. Since Springboard’s beginning, the non-profit organization has helped 684 women-led companies raise $8 billion — yes, that’s a “b” — in capital. What really sets Springboard apart is its commitment to helping women long-term. It’s not just about getting these businesses access to money, but also getting more women in leadership positions.
In fact, some of the metrics Springboard uses to measure its success are the number of alumnae and advisors that team up to form new businesses or invest in each other. It’s exciting to see how women are encouraged to build relationships with one another and share their knowledge.
It’s unsurprising, though, when you hear how co-founder Amy Millman speaks of Kay Koplovitz, another Springboard co-founder and the founder and former chairman and CEO of USA Networks.
“My North Star is Kay,” said Amy. “She’s one of the first women I ever met who had the drive, talent, and gumption to build a business in a new industry that became a $5 billion enterprise and changed the media business forever.” The two have worked together at Springboard for 18 years and another three when Amy was Chairman of the National Women’s Business Council, a federal statutory commission.
There’s no doubt that the women working with Springboard find inspiration in Amy’s own attitude. “I can’t say that I’ve ever felt daunted by circumstances or opportunities,” she said. “Once, when I asked my mother how she was able to manage her life for 30 years after my father passed away, she said she didn’t think about the past and kept her eyes on the horizon. And so that’s what I do.”
What’s interesting is that while Springboard supports women entrepreneurs, Amy doesn’t think of herself as one. “I consider myself an intrapreneur and not an entrepreneur,” she said. “I work with amazingly talented and brilliant entrepreneurs — women who leap without safety nets, something I don’t believe I have the fortitude to do. What I’ve learned from them is not to fear the unknown, but to embrace the opportunities new experiences will offer.”
Springboard has been a success since it was created, but that’s not something that Amy takes for granted. Instead, “it was an idea whose time had come and we had the right team to pull it off,” she said.
What’s better than starting your own business? Creating an organization that invests and supports in other women-led, high-growth companies. Springboard Enterprises is empowering women and accelerating their growth, one company at a time. Read more.