In the words of Keo Sar: “My advice to women entrepreneurs is simple: Just go for it”


Keo Sar, Chief Operating Officer & Partner at Matter Product Studio, and mentor within Women’s Entrepreneurship EXPO. Photo: Courtesy of Keo Sar.
Keo Sar, Chief Operating Officer & Partner at Matter Product Studio, and mentor within Women’s Entrepreneurship EXPO. Photo: Courtesy of Keo Sar.

Keo Sar is a startup operator and angel investor with over 15 years of experience in strategy, go-to-market tactics, business development, sales, and operations. Currently, he serves as Chief Operating Officer and Partner at Matter Product Studio, a technology consulting and product development firm specializing in AI solutions to enhance client efficiency, productivity, and return on investment. Since 2023, Keo Sar has been actively involved in Women's Entrepreneurship EXPO, first as a judge for EXPO Capital Quest and now acting as a mentor to aspiring women entrepreneurs under Women’s Entrepreneurship EXPO. In this interview, Keo Sar shines a light on the unique strengths that women bring to the entrepreneurship landscape and how he supports them in navigating male-dominated industries.

“I firmly believe that talent is equally distributed, yet opportunities or access to them are not. This belief propelled me to become a mentor, especially for women who aspire to become agents of change in the business world. I am fortunate enough to meet amazing people and mentors along my life journey who helped me tremendously and I want to pay it forward. The data tells us female entrepreneurs outperform male entrepreneurs, but there is a massive opportunity gap between the two. On average, women founders only receive roughly 2% of venture funding. So I ask myself, what kind of loss to humanity do we experience because we’re not empowering women who want to be change agents in the world? That motivates me to stay involved. 

Some of the distinctive strengths that women bring to entrepreneurship include their ability to multitask. Data tells us that women are better multitaskers, and I’ve observed this first-hand repeatedly. My experience also leads me to believe that women tend to have a more holistic view, resulting in a comprehensive approach to business building. Lastly, women have a tendency to be more empathetic, which I view as a strength because in business you’re dealing with people in often challenging situations. I help women entrepreneurs navigate male-dominated industries by continuing to highlight the work that they’re doing, the results they’re achieving, and the impact that they’re making. And I stress the importance of continuing to be yourself because you can’t get truly blessed for being someone that you’re not. 

However, common challenges faced by women entrepreneurs are the lack of financing, lack of entrepreneurial support, and lack of a network. There are often multiple approaches to solving these challenges, so the first step is trying to understand what we’re trying to solve in each of these areas. From there, we try to answer the question of, if we’re able to solve these challenges what will the outcomes be? Then we develop an action-driven tactical plan. For financing, it could be exploring available financing options and how to find the right investors. For entrepreneurial support, we might cover how to source groups or programs that they could get involved in. For lack of a network, I typically cover where, when, and how to network and connect with people. 

Therefore, my mentoring approach is personalized to each woman entrepreneur’s needs and aspirations. It is not a one-size-fits-all approach. I like to get to know the person, their story, and their heroine’s journey. I focus on understanding their why and what motivates them to take on the extreme challenge of entrepreneurship. I like to have a clear understanding of what they’re trying to achieve, the outcomes, and a timeline. From there we game plan and put a roadmap together to get specific with the strategy and tactics. I also recognize I can’t help with everything, so I do my best to connect the mentees with people who can help in other areas. 

When I think about the key skills that are essential for women entrepreneurs to develop, they are key skills that all entrepreneurs should develop. No one person or group has a monopoly on these skills. They’re storytelling, sales, and financial fundamentals. For the storytelling skill, I ask them to pitch me their story and then their business. I ask them to pitch me as an investor and then as a customer. I also have a storytelling template that I share. A lot of this is practice; it will never be perfect but it can be excellent. As it relates to sales skills, I advise every founder I meet, whether they look at themselves as a salesperson or not, that it is a skill they have to develop. You’re selling to investors, to customers, to employees or potential employees, and sometimes even to yourself. I tend to share my sales experience and do the best I can to provide guidance, but nothing beats the learning velocity of actually doing it. And the last one, financial literacy and fundamentals, are critical. Finance is the language of business.”

My advice to women entrepreneurs is simple: Just go for it. Everything that we see around us was created by someone, so they too can speak and turn their dreams into reality. Ask, why not me and keep going back to your why? It’s either going to work or it isn’t. If it doesn’t work, you would have gained tremendous experience from it that could be applied to the next venture. If it does work, you will likely be leaving a legacy and example for other women to follow. I think there’s magic in that.”