104 CLEARING THE HURDLES: WOMEN BUILDING HIGH-GROWTH BUSINESSES
and at MCC, Hammer had been involved in the develop-
ment of products that she thought were perfect for the cus-
tomers, but the organizations showed lack of enthusiasm
for them and would either kill them or shelve them. She
was not going to let that happen to this project. She was
willing to reinvent herself, again!
In fall 1991, Hammer
attracted an initial investment of $250,000 from Admiral
Inman, a business angel. Following 200% growth in the
next ﬁve years, a West Coast venture capital ﬁrm, VC1,
also invested $1.25 million.
Hammer’s story is not unusual. She used her academic experience
and education in literature and language as a basis for developing new
capabilities in computer programming. This knowledge and experience
inspired the idea for her new venture. Her human capital formed the
basis for the venture idea, and the seed for the unique technology pro-
viding market differentiation. Importantly, she was willing to learn, to
improve her human capital, and in her words, to “reinvent herself.”
Unlike Kay Hammer, most women do not have a Ph.D., a back-
ground in computer science, and the backing of Texas Instruments. The
big question here is this: How can women who want to lead high-
growth businesses address questions about their human capital?
Assessing Your Education and Experience
In the ﬁrst place, consider the link between your educational back-
ground and your business. For instance, someone with only a high
school education might be less likely to found a technology-based
company than someone who has some type of technological education
or training. Although formal education and clearly related technical
experience provide the most common ways to gain education, there are
many other ways to develop this knowledge. Take the example of Ann
Price, founder of Motek, a provider of supply-chain executive systems.