Charu Sharma has done more in her 24 years than some people do in a lifetime. Sharma founded two startups while attending Mount Holyoke College before being recruited by LinkedIn.
She’s also written three books and recently produced a documentary called “Go Against the Flow.” The film is being screened in major cities internationally including New York, San Francisco, London and Singapore, as well as at a number of universities and high schools. The documentary features about a dozen female entrepreneurs from the United States and United Kingdom who share their stories of success, failure and what they’ve learned along the way.
Sharma tells me in the video above that the inspiration for her film began at home. Growing up in Mumbai in a conservative Indian household, Sharma says the women in her family never worked outside of the home.
Sharma took her entrepreneurial spirit and came to America on a scholarship. She quickly learned that while women make up roughly 50% of the US workforce, they hold just 4.2% of CEO positions in America’s 500 biggest companies, according to the 2016 Fortune 500 List.
Sharma says women need to overcome what she calls a “confidence gap.” She says when women apply for jobs, they look at the required qualifications and typically do not apply unless they meet eight of the 10 qualifications. Men, on the other hand, typically apply for the job if they only meet three of the 10.
Confidence is important, but entrepreneurs also need capital to build a business. Raising money is a big challenge for any startup, but even more so for women-led companies, says Sharma.
For example, companies with all-male management teams are over four times more likely to receive venture capital funding than businesses with even one woman on the team, according to a 2014 study by Babson College.
Kellee Khalil, founder and CEO of the virtual wedding planner Lover.ly, is one of the women featured in Sharma’s film. “There aren’t a lot of women writing checks,” Khalil says. “When you’re pitching investors, they’re looking for people [with whom] they can identify with, and there are just not a lot of female investors.”
Sharma hopes to help change that narrative. She says “Go Against the Flow” is more than a film, she calls it a movement to help women reach their full potential in the workplace. To that end, Sharma is developing an app that matches mentors with women looking for career guidance.
Click here to learn more about Sharma and Go Against the Flow.