Innovating for People Like Me: Evidence from Female-Founded Consumer Packaged Goods Startups
41 Pages Posted: 24 May 2019
Date Written: May 29, 2019
Women are under-represented among startup founders, patent inventors, and venture capitalists. This paper investigates how different consumers may be affected by women's under-representation among innovation leaders. Using scanner data for consumer-packaged goods linked to databases on startups, patents, and venture capitalists, we find that female consumers are significantly more likely to purchase products from startups that were founded by female entrepreneurs, hire female inventors and/or are backed by a female venture capitalist. Within narrow product categories, the share of sales to female consumers is about 20% larger for a company founded by a female entrepreneur, relative to a male-founded startup. These findings suggest that an entrepreneur's gender matter for the direction of entrepreneurship/innovation, in contrast with standard models of entrepreneurship. We suggest various channels that can account for the observed patterns. Our findings suggest that unequal access to entrepreneurship may have substantial distributional effects. In a simple calibration based on love-of-variety in a CES framework, we find that, compared with a male-led startup, a female-led startup generates welfare gains for female consumers that are 27% larger than for male consumers. Beyond gender, we document that consumer characteristics are systematically related to other socio-demographic characteristics of founders, including parent income and age.
Keywords: Entrepreneurship, Innovation, New Goods, Product Variety, Economics of Ideas
JEL Classification: O30, L26, J16
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation