Based in Hong Kong, Nicole Denholder is the Founder of Next Chapter Ventures, where she is redefining partnerships for Female Entrepreneurs, Investors and Funds. An advisor to female entrepreneurs and a regular speaker on investing and crowdfunding, Nicole has successfully launched the Next Chapter Crowdfunding platform as also Next Chapter Raise – a digital community connecting female founders and the investor community and financial institutions.
Having started her career at one of the big four accounting firms mainly in advisory around capital markets – the experience she gained at the firm for over 12 years really helped her understand how companies are valued and what makes them attractive investment opportunities.
Sadly, it also highlighted just how few women there were on both sides of the table. She kept meeting these bright and highly capable women with big ideas that failed to be realised and it was then that she decided that’s what she wanted to do next – help these women get funded.
It all started when Nicole became a mother of two. With a job that required her to travel more than 30 weeks a year, managing a work-life balance was becoming tough by the day. With a zeal to empower budding entrepreneurs, Nicole knew that true guidance meant helping these entrepreneurs with funding too. That is when she decided to commence her first venture, Next Chapter Crowdfunding, which has now become a great success with 95% of the members reaching their funding goals. Nicole knew this was just the beginning though. Her true passion lay in creating a space where founders were exposed to many more opportunities and were simultaneously getting more investment savvy; which is when Next Chapter Raise was born.
Next Chapter Raise is now a small team of various specialists that range from graphic designers to business developers to PR managers. Nicole takes pride in being at a position where she now delegates the work that she would once do all by herself. Though such micromanagement has its own cons, she truly believes that her role as a leader is to oversee, encourage and to learn.
The hurdle race
Just like any other journey, this one has seen its own share of ups and downs. Between deadlines that can’t be always achieved and tech power that hasn’t been supportive, things aren’t always in control.
At a business proposition level, Nicole’s biggest challenge has been explaining to investors the need for such a venture and identifying and working with female founders in order to create a more diversified deal flow. A lot of bias against female founders is also something that has to be constantly dealt with. Investors trying to skew questions that are challenge-based and not growth-based is of a major concern as it affects monetization and makes the founders revolve their mindset around credit-worthiness. Nicole ensures to overcome these hurdles on a daily basis and work towards empowering female founders regardless of the obstacles that are being thrown at them. It is their hard work that inspires her to keep going each day.
It brings immense joy to her when she looks back at how she launched Next Chapter Crowdfunding; leaving behind a conventional safe and secure corporate life. She feels enormously proud to look at all the women transition under her umbrella from having a hobby-business to becoming full-fledged entrepreneurs.
When asked to define success, Nicole says, “It is a very personal thing for me. I don’t define it either in terms of sales, revenue or amount raised. For me it’s about making women reach their full potential. To see them grow. I want investors to see value in female founded businesses. It’s all about bringing that change in these industry mindsets when it comes to supporting female entrepreneurship.” She further adds that she wants to see more women on boards, more female venture capitalists, more women in tech and so on. To her, success means witnessing this constant change take place.