“Ready to Burn It Down”: Founders Talk Sexism, Money, and Politics

Starting any fast-growing business is difficult. Starting one while female, as the flood of headlines about #MeToo and VC funding shortfalls illustrates, can seem nearly impossible.

“I was told I was too female, too old, even too blond: ‘You do not look like a CEO,’ ” says Jules Pieri, co-founder and CEO of the Grommet. Yet Pieri, who started her product launch platform in 2008 and last year sold a majority stake to Ace Hardware, is one of countless women to ignore naysayers, forge on—and find success.

Inc. and Fast Company, our sister publication, asked women who have started all kinds of businesses just how they do it. The 279 respondents to our first State of Women and Entrepreneurship survey have seen it all: internal doubts, external harassment, subtle bias, and blatant discrimination. But

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