Meet Julia Elliott Brown – CEO & Founder, Enter The Arena
Julia Elliott Brown is CEO and Founder of Enter The Arena, the UK’s leading equity fundraising expert and specialist coach, working exclusively with female founders.
Having successfully raised millions of pounds in equity finance and built her own high-growth business – The Upper Street – Julia is now sharing her expertise with the female founders on successful equity fundraising.
Enter The Arena was born from Julia’s passion to help women achieve the investment they deserve and level the playing field for female founders.
As a strategic advisor, she helps clients to navigate the challenges that come with scaling a business, and the investment process, helping female founders to develop their fundraising and leadership, and improve business acumen.
She will soon publish her first book RAISE: The Female Founders’ Guide to Securing Investment, which covers all the steps to help women successfully break into the investment ecosystem which traditionally has been run by, and for, men.
Julia also runs the Fundraising Stories with Female Founders podcast.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I’m Julia Elliott Brown, CEO and Founder of Enter The Arena. I’m an equity fundraising expert, specialist advisor and executive coach, working exclusively with female founders. Having built my own high-growth start-ups and raised millions of pounds in equity finance, my purpose and passion are to bring my expertise to support female founders on their journeys to fundraise successfully.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
From a very young age, I knew I wanted to go into business. I started working at Reuters, looking after investment banks, but even a long time before that I had felt a real pull towards the exciting world of start-ups and took the leap in the early days of the internet.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
Throughout my 25-plus years of building, funding and scaling start-ups, I’ve faced many challenges. One of the toughest was deciding to close my last business, which was really tough as it was my ‘baby’ and I’d poured my heart and soul into it; but it was the right decision in the end. I also faced a huge shift as I pivoted from being a start-up operator to a start-up advisor when I launched Enter The Arena over seven years ago, which was like starting all over again. My key leap into the unknown was, however, a decision to focus exclusively on supporting female founders when everyone kept on telling me that was madness. But deep within me, I knew, I had a mission!
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
My biggest achievement so far has been funding my previous business Upper Street, the design-your-own shoe brand, to the tune of £2m. Raising investment for a female-focused brand as a female founder in a male-dominated investment world was extremely challenging!
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
I’ve always been very optimistic and have a real can-do attitude. If someone is going to tell me something can’t be done, then I’m definitely going to do my utmost to prove them wrong!
What has also supported me along the journey was the self-awareness and knowledge of what I’m good at and what I’m NOT good at. know how to delegate tasks to experts in their field wherever possible while focusing on being a visionary leader, which is my strength.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
The coaching and advisory work I do at Enter The Arena supports female founders every step of the way as they progress through their investment and growth journey with their start-ups. As a strategic advisor and executive coach, I help them to navigate the scaling and investment process effectively, develop fundraising and leadership skills, and business acumen. I also share my knowledge on how to speak investors’ language, prepare appropriate financial information and investor pitch, build a high-calibre investor network and confidently negotiate their investment deal. I find it incredibly rewarding to be able to empower women in this way and to see them flourish as a result.
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?
Enter The Arena was born out of the realisation and the data, that explicitly shows women are not being afforded an equal opportunity to shine in the investment space. Less than 2% of venture funding goes to women-led businesses, while more than half of female founders experience gender bias in the fundraising process – it’s truly unacceptable. We’re working hard to level the playing field by empowering those women with the strategy, skills and support they need for success.
I would like to see more gender equality measurements in place in the investment industry. Every investor should be tracking their performance at every stage of the pipeline and be held accountable for improving diversity.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
I’d tell myself to learn that not everything is within my control, but the universe would bring me what I needed when needed it. I’d also say keep putting positivity into the world, and the rest will take care of itself.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
In September, I’ll be publishing my first book, RAISE: The Female Founder’s Guide To Securing Investment, which provides the tools and guidance for female founders to help them improve their skills, knowledge, mindset and confidence on their fundraising journey and give them the very best chance of a great outcome. This advice runs alongside the inspiring stories of dozens of female founders who successfully funded their start-ups. But most importantly, the book covers all the steps to help women successfully break into the investment ecosystem, which traditionally has been run by, and for, men.
I won’t rest until we have 50% of high-growth start-ups run by women, so I have no doubt there’ll be many more challenges ahead!