Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

A Full Circle Moment / SCale: The Future of Tech & Entertainment

March 23, 2017 Entrepreneurship, Startups, Technology, Uncategorized, Venture Capital

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Yesterday was a special day for USC and the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, as it held its first full-day tech conference at Shutters in Santa Monica. It was also a special day for me. You see, when I was 14 years old I confidently announced to my parents that I would be heading West for college to study entrepreneurship at the University of Southern California.

My announcement caught my parents off-guard because: 1) in Indiana, my hometown, the expectation is that you go to IU, and 2) studying entrepreneurship was not commonplace at that time. It was my sophomore year and I had gotten my hands on the college rankings edition of U.S. News and World Report. I was fascinated by a lengthy spread that discussed a new type of business track, called “entrepreneurial studies,” that was only offered at two schools – Babson and The University of Southern California.  A family trip up the California coast as a child had sparked a love affair with the West Coast so USC became my #1 target.  And a campus visit with my Dad (a Notre Dame football fan who was not thrilled to be on enemy grounds) sealed the deal.

Cut to almost exactly 20 years later (yikes and shhhhh!) and I consider my decision to go to USC to study entrepreneurship the most important and impactful decision of my life to date. I have spent my entire career working with entrepreneurs in the early stage tech space.  Having held just about every role (operator, consultant, advisor, investor, coach), I truly could’t imagine doing anything else.  And as a bonus, I get to co-teach one of the entrepreneurship classes I took two decades ago.

This past year, working on the SCale event, has been surreal and also an incredible honor. With only a small team of amazing Trojans, we pulled off a tremendous day of content and community that perfectly highlighted both the university and the city I love.

SCale covered entertainment, digital media, gaming, esports, AR/VR, and more.  We were fortunate enough to get Bob Iger (Disney), Sarah Harden (Otter Media), Adam Cheyer (Siri, Viv), and Brandon Beck (Riot Games) to join us – to name just a few of the amazing folks we had on stage.  And Eric Garcetti,  the most tech-forward Mayor in the country, also stopped by.  It was truly surreal to have it all come together so wonderfully.  Thanks to all the amazing founders, investors, techies and media & entertainment folks who spent the day with us.

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Yesterday was no doubt the kickoff of what will be an amazing yearly event. USC, with its world-class schools (business, engineering, film, gaming and beyond), has a tremendous impact on the talent and innovation here in Los Angeles. I am both #LongUSC and #LongLA. I cannot wait to see what the next 20 years brings.

#FightON

PS – David, Jeymi, Anthony, Suzy – you are the best! #dreamteam

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PSS – Thanks, as always, to my mom & dad for always supporting me.

The Tech World Mirrors The Ad World (despite being more Richard Hendricks than Don Draper)

October 6, 2016 Entrepreneurship, Gender Equality, Startups, Technology, Venture Capital, Women in Business

If you have not read the New York Times article, “Brands to Ad Agencies: Diversify or Else,” you should. The similarities between the Startup and Ad industries are pretty uncanny, except the fact that Silicon Valley looks like this…

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And Madison Avenue looks like this…..

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In reference to major brands demanding that agencies diversify their teams, the article states, “The efforts reflect a growing concern among marketers that Madison Avenue’s largely white, male leadership may be hindering their efforts to connect with American consumers.” Kudos to Verizon, HP Inc. and General Mills for taking a stand!

In the startup world, there should be (and I hope is) a growing concern among LPs (the folks that fund VCs) that Silicon Valley’s largely, white leadership may be hindering their efforts to connect with – and fund – entrepreneurs/founders. Of course, LPs are mostly white men themselves, adding another layer of complexity to diversifying the startup ecosystem.

Hopefully, the statistics coming out of recent studies will help impact true change. Here are a few:

• Women led startups receive less than 3% of VC funding, yet we know from a Babson study, among countless others, that women women-led, VC-backed tech companies bring in 12 percent higher revenue than similar male-led companies and have a 35 percent higher return on investment.

• Only 7% of VC partners at the Top 100 firms are women, yet a recent study in partnership with PE Hub, VCJ, Women VC, showed that the overall performance of female VCs’ portfolio companies is 3.78x, ahead of the overall industry average. In addition, having more female investors is important, as they are 3x more likely to invest in startups with a woman as CEO.

The NYTimes article also states that, “In order for us to create work that’s more connected with the consumer, it needs to come from a deeper connection to what’s going on in society and what’s going on in culture.” Nothing has the potential to be more transformative to society and culture than technology innovation. Funding and supporting a diverse set of founders and investors (women and people of color) is imperative. The same goes for hiring women and people of color at the big tech companies. By improving diversity across the entire technology ecosystem, we will facilitate more, and better, innovation across the board.

The good news is that both industries have been under intense press scrutiny for the last few years and now seem to be taking action. With major brands leading the way in advertising and folks like Melinda Gates tackling diversity in tech, we are certainly moving in the right direction.

May both industries learn from each other and move forward quickly to impact change. We will, as a society, be better for it.

My 30 Day Self Work Challenge / 5 Ways to Recharge and Realign

September 9, 2016 Company Culture, Entrepreneurship, Female investors, Self Work, Startups

If your summer social feeds were anything like mine, you saw lots of folks enjoying sun-filled beach vacations. You also saw lots of “30 Day Challenges” (Whole 30, 30 days of Push-ups, 30 days of Rose, etc.). I dig challenges, so I decided to do one of my own, dubbing it “30 Days of Self Work.”

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Why did I decide to prioritize “self work” this summer?
You may be guessing that I was unhappy, but I wasn’t. The convergence of a great many things (turning 40, illness/loss experienced by friends and family, attending the United States of Women Summit, several amazing travel experiences, this election) had begun to really impact the lens through which I view the world, myself and my purpose. As happens over time, my passions, perspectives and priorities were evolving, and I realized I needed a “tune-up”.

Over the course of August, through various activities I will share later, I began to solidify what I needed to work on to be the best version of myself I can be, and to serve myself and the world in the best way I can. They are:

1) Dialing back my “doer” and “thinker” and nurturing my “be-er” and “feeler”
2) Giving time to all the dimensions of life that are important to me
(which entails learning to say “no” without feeling like a horrible human)
3) Focusing on Fulfillment, as opposed to Achievement

Why am I writing about my experience and why, on earth, am I sharing it?
I am writing this 1) for me (and to hold myself accountable), 2) for anyone with whom this may resonate and help on any level, and 3) because my dear friend, and badass startup founder, Kat Markov, suggested I share my experience (particularly when I told her I made an appointment with a numerologist).

What I did?
Disclaimer: I am fully aware that creating a Self-Development Summer Intensive is exactly how a “doer” and achievement-obsessed person would tackle growth. Baby steps folks;) In this case, the ends justified the means.

Since I decided to embark upon this journey, I also decided to be completely open to any suggestions that came up along the way. As my friend , the wise soothsayer Ara Katz, said to me, “It doesn’t matter what type of work it is, it only matters that you are doing it. Whatever works for you, is a good thing for you.” So now, without further adieu, I am sharing my “Toolbox for Getting Real and Growing.” Take some of these practices or leave them. Everyone has their own path:

1) I did brand work. Yup, you read that right. When is the last time you wrote down your (not your company’s) core values, mission statement, and vision statement. Other great questions to ask yourself: What do you stand for? How do you define who you are? How do you want to impact the world? This is a challenging and powerful exercise. If you are not doing things – in either your professional or personal life – that align with your values and goals, it is time to make changes. Thank you Liz Heller and Robin Fisher Roffer of Big Fish Marketing for showing me the way.

2) I cut back on the countless articles, books, podcasts, and videos on the tech /startup space I consume daily. I supplemented my reading with content on personal growth and development that I read in 30-45 minute allotments in the morning and evening.

In the age of the Internet, social media and the smart phone, this is VERY hard to do. Nuzzle, Pocket, Facebook, Twitter, TechCrunch, Pando, The Information, The Verge, Upload VR… I read them all, often. I love reading about tech and innovation and, of course, it is part of my job. I didn’t stop reading about my industry altogether, I just checked myself from doing it incessantly. Like when I wake up at 2 am and read for an hour, which I put the kibosh on for good!

In addition, I deliberately re-visited impactful content I had consumed in the past, as well as sought out new information from people I know to be experts in the self-development space. Interestingly enough, I found that shifting my focus opened me up to discover (or at least pay attention to) all kinds of amazing pieces relevant to my “challenge.” I consumed so much important, impactful content that I cannot share it all. Below are some of the folks that helped me get in touch with what I wanted to improve upon and how I might do so.

James Altucher
I stumbled upon an amazing Medium post by James Altucher a few months back. James is a hedge fund manager, entrepreneur, writer, and podcaster. To be honest, I had no idea who he was at the time I read the post, but I knew it spoke to me so I followed him. During my 30 days, Medium suggested other posts by James, as well those under the topic of “Personal Growth” (thank you, Medium!). At this point, I have devoured an insane amount of Altucher content, all of which has been super helpful.

One of my favorite posts is called “I Miss Nothing.” You can read it here. Best quote of the article: “Stillness ultimately creates, Doing often destroys.”

I also read a great post titled “13 Things I learned from James Altucher.” They are all gems but the first one will stick with me far beyond these 30 days:

“Acknowledge that it’s not your external life that needs to change (you have little control over that), but that external changes flow from the inside.”

I also suggest reading James’ books, “Choose Yourself” and “The Power of No.”

Brene Browne
I revisited Brene Browne’s Ted Talk on vulnerability. It resonates with me on so many levels, as Brene is a self-proclaimed Type A perfectionist. This is a Ted Talk I will visit frequently as I am working on allowing myself to be more vulnerable. If you also need to work on this, watch and bookmark this video NOW.

Tony Robbins
Admittedly, I have never quite understood the phenomenon of Tony, but his documentary hit Netflix the first week of my “challenge.” In addition to being a sucker for a great documentary, I figured it was time to learn why millions of people, including many successful business leaders I revere, swear Tony helped them better their lives. Watching “I Am Not Your Guru” blew my mind. It helped me to recognize that to better understand myself I’d need to go deep into my childhood. This exercise is not to place blame, but to understand some of the driving forces of your life and to release what is not working for you. I had never really done this in a concerted way so this took some real work, which ended up being real helpful.

With my newfound admiration for Tony Robbins, I sought out more from him. I came across this podcast he did with Tim Feriss. So much of what he says really hit home for me. The gist is that “We get the science of Achievement, but don’t pay enough to the Art of Fulfillment…… its an art because it is different for everyone.” He also says, “the principal that makes us fulfilled is growth because we are most alive when we are growing and growth gives us the ability to give and feel like we are making a contribution to the Universe.” Amen Mr. Robbins.

3) I made a pie. No, not that kind – I cant’ bake (or cook for that matter). More specifically, I made a pie chart. It consisted of the things in my life that are most important to me. Mine were: Family, Friends & Dog, Job/Career, Love Life, Fitness & Health, Travel & Fun, Service, and Learning. I first drew the chart according how I have spent my time in the past. No surprise here that the career slice of my pie was exceedingly large. I then drew my chart according how I want to allocate my time going forward. I now have a visual in my head , and on paper, to check myself if/when I fall out of balance.

4) I went to a Numerologist. Don’t really know what a numerologist is? No worries, I didn’t either. The fact that it floored several of my friends when I revealed I was doing this should tell you that I am not a numerologist kinda gal. That is, I wasn’t. But I am now.

I have since learned folks like Pythagoras and Gallileo believed in numerology. Seem like smart dudes, right?

I met my numerologist, Josh, at Le Zinque – a hot spot in Venice, not a tie-dye gypsy tent. He came highly recommended from my friend Leslie, who assured me he was not “hippie dippie” and that I would like him. She was correct. Josh is a math and science guy, who became obsessed with numerology 20 years ago. After exchanging pleasantries, Josh asked for my full name and birth date, which he wrote at the top of a plain sheet of paper.  He then went to work, like a mad scientist (err… numerologist). He began calculating numbers all over the sheet and then circled many of them, drawing lines across the paper to connect like numbers. It was all quite fascinating. Then, he looked up and proceeded to tell me all about myself. It would be apt to say, “he had my number.” He even called out certain years in my life that were years of transition/transformation. And he knew I was in one of those years right now.

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Of course, visiting a numerologist isn’t going to magically change you. But anything that helps you get real and examine your personality traits and behaviors can certainly be helpful in making decisions and changes.

I have now referred a number of friends to Josh. All have been blown away by their experience. If you are open to trying it, message me.

 

 

5) I spent time with myself and nature.  Even as a single person, it’s tough to get alone time – at least quality alone time. Time where you can sit in stillness and just breathe and be present. In LA, we have alone time in our cars, but that is usually filled with planning the day ahead, business calls, road rage, and the occasional 80s rock song sing-a-long. The same goes with gym time. While I am a fitness nut, and love what it does for me physically and mentally, the group classes I take don’t really provide for peaceful introspection. During my “challenge”, I cut back on my group classes and opted for walks along the ocean and hikes in the mountains by myself. At some point along my scenic route, I would pick a peaceful spot to sit and meditate. Now, I have tried to meditate before and it has never stuck. So I am trying again and will keep doing so until I am the girl pictured below realizing all of the many great benefits of the practice.

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Special thanks to Headspace for making something so difficult a little bit less so. Wish I was an investor!

During my “30 Days of Self Work,” I also did a bunch of other things that made me happy, made me feel grateful and made me….just feel. Things that involved the heart over the head. This included family and friends time, attending a wedding on an estancia in Argentina, dancing, and spending lots of time with babies and small kids (admiring their endless curiosity and excitement).

My challenge is now complete. I feel grounded, recharged, and more creative. Most importantly, I feel more in tune with what is important to me both personally and professionally.  It was an amazing 30 days, but the hard part begins now – with how to continue the work and sustain my current peace of mind and perspective. The key is to make it a priority and to make myself, and becoming my best self, a priority above all else. There is nothing more important than continuing to grow and to focus on living a fulfilled life. As the saying goes, “you only get one shot, make it your best!”

Less Talk, More Action (My Trip to DC)

December 29, 2015 Company Culture, Entrepreneurship, Female investors, Technology, Venture Capital, Women in Business

I have been in the startup community (NYC and LA) for nearly 20 years, first as an operator and now as an investor. There has always been a diversity issue (a very big one) so I am, of course, thrilled that it has been getting so much attention as of late. Though I am eager to move from talking about it to ACTING to eliminate it.

I am a strong believer that each of us is responsible for putting into the world more than we take out. That each of us can, and should, make a positive impact – whether that means on a community, industry, state or global level. Obviously, it is easiest to make a difference locally, in an area that you are passionate about and familiar with. Starting out in early-stage tech in the late 90s, I have countless stories about being the only woman in my company, at a party, or at a conference. Because of my experience, I dedicate a good deal of my time to advising and mentoring both my female colleagues as well as the many existing and aspiring female founders I meet. I want more women to join / start / invest in tech startups. The more women that do so, the more that will follow in their footsteps (see my post “Choose Possibility”). Of course, we should all want this, not just women, as the numbers show that companies with women in management report higher returns on equity and better net income growth than those lacking female leaders.

Last year, I had the good fortune of meeting a “soul sister” by the name of Shelley Zallis. Shelley built and sold an online research company and, for the past few years, has been producing “The Girls Lounge”, a destination for female executives to connect and inspire one another, at a handful of major industry conferences. As everyone does, I immediately fell in love with Shelley. I believe our meeting was kizmet, as we met right at the time I began to think about gender equality on a national and global (not just tech ecosystem) level and right at the time Shelley was just beginning to think about how to build her Girls Lounge into a much bigger initiative.

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 4.23.35 PMJust before Christmas (and exactly one year after our first meeting), Shelley invited a group of 35 female executives to join her on a trip to DC. This was a venerable crew of badass women from Fortune level companies including IBM, Viacom, iheartmedia, Unilever, The New York Times, and Caterpillar (to name a few). I was honored and elated to be invited.

 

The purpose of the trip was to bring women from the public and private sectors together to begin to formulate a plan for moving beyond articles and studies and into creating an executable corporate roadmap for achieving gender equality. The first day we met with Megan Smith, the CTO of the USA, and discussed/brainstormed topics ranging from STEAM education to how to involve big media companies in bringing greater visibility to workplace diversity. The second day was spent with US Treasurer, Rosie Rios. She is the woman behind the initiative to get a female on our currency (if they see it, they can believe it!). Rosie had McKinsey & Company come in and present to us. If you don’t already know, McKinsey has a partnership with LeanIn.Org and, together, they produced a study called Women in the Workplace 2015.

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The study is a short read, chock-full of charts and to-the-point summaries – definitely worth 15 minutes of your time. Check it our here. I will provide you with the take-away sentence that is most important: “Based on the slow rate of progress…it will take 25 years to reach gender parity at the senior-VP level and more than one hundred years in the C-suite.” 

This is absolutely NOT OK. That’s four more generations of our daughters being passed over for high-visibility projects/promotions, feeling like they cant take reasonable maternity leave without it impacting their performance reviews or career trajectory, and working just as hard (if not harder) than the guy next to her while earning 77 cents to his dollar.

The good news is that workplace diversity and gender equality are hot topics today. You can’t peruse the tech pubs on any given day without an article on this topic. And there have been a multitude of high profile articles on diversity (or lack thereof) in Hollywood this past year. These are the two industries in which I play – I am hoping, and assuming, the same goes for all industries.

The bad news is that we are at a stage where many companies are just providing lip service when they are publicly claiming diversity is a priority. In fact, according to the McKinsey study, “74% of companies report that gender diversity is a top CEO priority, but the message is not reaching the majority of employees. Less than half of workers believe that gender diversity is a top priority of their CEO, and only a third view is a top priority for their direct manager.”   One example here is Twitter. Twitter joined alongside several Silicon Valley heavyweights in releasing their diversity numbers (which were beyond dismal) and proclaiming that diversity was a key priority. Recently, an employee (now ex) posted this resignation letter that went viral stating that he was leaving the company because he believed its diversity initiative was more talk than action. To be fair to Twitter, tackling diversity in the workplace is a huge task and one that won’t happen overnight.  The company did release an apology letter and just this past week announced that they hired away Apple’s Worldwide Director of Inclusion and Diversity.

There have been lots of folks hired in the last year with fancy titles like the one above. But what can and will these people actually do to implement change. That’s where we are back to the good news. There are action items that can be taken – and companies like Facebook (go Sheryl), Salesforce, Netflix, Goldman Sachs, and Intel are leading the way. What we need is for these major companies to be transparent about what is and is not working – and to track and report their progress – all the way down to the bottom line.  We must prove to CEOs (and shareholders) that diversity strengthens a company in every aspect, including financially.

And this is where The Girls Lounge (consisting of leaders across multiple industries) and Megan & Rosie come back in. Having corporations and organizations tackle this issue in silos is a sure way to get to 100 years before we create the change we want to see. I will not share the plan for more unified action here – as it is still under construction and it is not mine to share. But it includes bringing together companies, organizations, and the government to evaluate, promote, and enact best practices for eliminating the gender/race wage gap, building corporate practices that promote diversity and eliminate discrimination (including changing Family Leave Policy – for more on this, watch this TED talk), and tackling the very difficult subject of unconscious bias.

As Shelley likes to say #TogetherWeCan  
As I like to say, let’s #GetShitDone   

Stay tuned….
And be sure to follow The Girls Lounge: Twitter / Instagram / Facebook

Notes:

 

Media Coverage of Women in Tech – #choosepossibility

May 14, 2015 Entrepreneurship, Female investors, Gender Equality, Startups, Technology, Women in Business

Last month, I participated on a panel at The Milken Institute Global Summit (watch it here) where the moderator asked if the recent attention on the low numbers of women in technology and investing was a good or bad thing.  Both Melody McClosky, founder of StyleSeat, and I agreed that, although the spotlight is mostly a good thing, we would both like to see less articles bemoaning the stats/struggles and more articles highlighting people/organizations making impactful changes towards creating more diversity. In addition, we would like to see more articles featuring the women leaders of today. There is nothing more impactful than young women seeing female leaders on the covers of magazines so they think “I can do that / I want to do that!”

I gave the example of Lynda.com, which was a “unicorn” level exit of a Southern California company founded by a woman (appropriately named Lynda;).  Her story is a terrific one.  A woman who taught herself computer skills and became very adept at web design.  The earliest version of Lynda.com focused on teaching design classes and then grew into a site offering hundreds of web, creative and business courses online – in multiple languages.  Lynda.com was really at the forefront of EdTech before we were even calling it EdTech.  But I didn’t see much press about Lynda upon the $1.5B purchase of her company by LinkedIn.  And I certainly didn’t see her on any magazine covers. I can’t help but think Lynda had two strikes against her: 1) she is a woman and 2) she is in her sixties.  The poster child for the tech scene is a white millenial male in a hoodie (a la Mark Zuckerberg), and Lynda didn’t fit the bill.  Seeing is believing and one cannot underscore the impact that stories like Lynda’s can have on our young women. IMHO the media should make a concerted effort to feature the stories of founders and investors that represent diversity of all kinds.

I am hoping that with the numerous articles over the past 12 months highlighting the stats we all know too well – just 2.9% of startup CEOs are women, just 6% (and by some accounts 4%) of partners at VCs are women – we are now moving into a period where more articles are discussing actual ideas and tactics for entrepreneurs, investors and companies to help improve diversity in the technology/startup ecosystem.

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I have come across three such articles in just the last week.

1)  Kudos to Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, founder of Joyus, for posting a letter on ReCode which includes survey results from 200+ top female founders. It also provides a great list of ideas for increasing the rate of progress for women in tech entrepreneurship, stating “some ideas will succeed, others will fail, but we know that iteration matters in building momentum behind any large vision.” Her letter was signed by many top women in the tech ecosystem.  A big thank you to all of them!

Her list of excellent action items is below.  Be sure to check out the full article here.

*Entrepreneurs seeking to enhance their startup’s performance can choose today to add their first qualified female board member or investor. Diverse thinking can benefit private tech boards potentially even more than public ones, and there is no reason to wait.

*Startups seeking to attract women could choose today to create best practices in the areas of family planning and leave policies early and proactively. We can make this as easily understood as cap tables and free lunch programs among first-time founders.

*Venture capitalists (and their LPs) looking to understand their own biases and also their progress could choose today to track female versus male stats (pitched to funded) in their deal pipeline, and even publish it proactively.

*Venture capitalists seeking to attract the best entrepreneurs could choose today to be explicit in their term sheets on their own zero-tolerance policies for sexual harassment and other discrimination, as well as demanding the same of their portfolio companies. This is a simple signal, and it goes a long way to both genders of top-tier entrepreneurs.

*Investors and board members looking to grow the best companies can choose today to vigilantly treat female founders and CEOs with the same level of candor, directness, expectation and measurement that they would any other CEO or founder, rather than operating from a latent fear of “female emotion.”

*Women who are starting or working in a tech company can choose today to oversell their vision rather than underselling themselves, as they are competing for resources and mindshare with people who pitch big ideas.

2) Two amazing tech reporters at The LA Times (both women) then did a follow up story about the above letter (read here).  The below echoes my thoughts precisely.

“There are lots of women rising and succeeding in technology,” said Ruzwana Bashir, CEO of Peek, who co-signed the letter. “Instead of saying the challenges they face are insurmountable, why not focus on the women who have succeeded and understand what they did so we can have more people succeed?”

3) And this piece on Pandodaily is the type of story I really love to see.  It features a badass woman I had never heard of – CyPhy Works CEO Helen Greiner – along with the title “First Lady of Robots.”  I want every young woman out there to learn about this woman!

“I saw Star Wars when I was eleven and I wanted to build robots ever since. So I really went to MIT to learn robots, and I learned a lot of great things there. But it turned out, at the time, they really didn’t know how to build robots so I had to start a company to do that.”

I truly hope that these recent articles are an indication that we have turned the corner from focusing on the negative (like the article titled “How Companies Crush Womens’ Ambitions” in NYMag.com) to highlighting the positive and the possible. Discussions about proactive ways to improve diversity and articles/covers featuring the successes of not just women, but anyone who does not look like the poster child of tech, are the way to truly impact change.  I am optimistic we are moving in that direction:) #changetheratio #choosepossibility #choosepositivity

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

September 3, 2012 Business, Entrepreneurship, Internet, Startups, Technology, Venture Capital, Women in Business

The topic of the dirth of women in technology has been written about ad nauseum for the past few years.  But that’s a good thing, as bringing the issue to the forefront is finally leading to a good deal of action.  And actions, as we all know, speaks louder than words.

I came across an article on TechCrunch today, entitled “Twitter bets on Girls Who Code,” that literally made my day (and it’s Labor Day so that means a lot!)   Huge props to Reshma Saujani, who founded  the New York-based initiative to help teach girls ages 13-17 how to code so that they can pursue careers in technology and engineering.  The most exciting part is the number of businesses, including Google, GE  and eBay, that are helping to support Girls Who Code.  The big boys are finally stepping up to the plate after acknowledging that women programmers are few and far between, and realizing that they can have an extremely positive impact on their predominantly testosterone tech teams.  Women bring a different perspective and style to the table, and often approach problem analysis, solution discovery, and general communication in ways different than men.  Many studies have proven that teams with a mix of both sexes are often more successful than teams dominated by one sex or the other. Gender diversity, not just ethnic diversity, is important. Period.

Kudos to Twitter for recognizing this.  Twitter is one of GWC’s biggest supporters, having provided both volunteers and financial support to the organization.

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Below are some important stats pulled for the Girls Who Code website:

Today, just 3.6% of Fortune 500 companies are led by women, and less than 10% of venture capital-backed companies have female founders. Yet females use the internet 17% more than their male counterparts and represent the fastest growing demographic online and on mobile, creating more than two-thirds of content on social networking sites. Technology companies with more women on their management teams have a 34% higher return on investment.

The numbers speak for themselves. By 2018, there will be 1.4 million computer science-related job openings, yet U.S. universities are expected to produce enough computer science graduates to fill just 29% of these jobs. And while 57% of bachelor’s degrees are obtained by women, less than 14% of computer science degrees are awarded to women.

Accolades to Girls Who Code for taking action and targeting young women.  I believe making changes at the youth level is key to making progress overall.  I certainly hope to see this organization grow its presence on not just a national scale, but a global one.

This is an exciting time for Women in Tech and Female Founders.  A time where individuals, organizations and businesses are in action mode so that we can start to see the percentages above steadily increase.  Stay tuned for my next post, as I will be creating a list of more folks that are making a significant impact.

 

 

Business Development for Startups – Coloft Academy Workshop

August 26, 2012 Business, Business Development, Entrepreneurship, Sales & Marketing, Startups, Technology, Women in Business

coloft

Last Thursday, I led a workshop on BD for Startups at Coloft as part of their new Coloft Academy initiative. I have spent my career launching and growing businesses, so I was thrilled to be invited to share my learnings with the community.  I had a terrific time and would like to thank all the folks who packed the house to spend 2 hours with me.  I have always loved mentoring young entrepreneurs, and have considered teaching in a more formal way at some point.  I now know that it is something I absolutely want to tackle!

I have received a great deal of positive feedback on the workshop, and lots of requests for my presentation.  Here it is:


Business Development for Startups

Business Development for Startups 101 – Aug 23rd Workshop

August 6, 2012 Business, Business Development, Entrepreneurship, Sales & Marketing, Startups, Technology, Women in Business

I love talking about startups, and I really love talking about all things Business Development.
BD
I am super honored and excited that LA’s Startup Hub, Co-Loft, has invited me to lead a workshop called “Startup BizDev – This is How It’s Done” as part of their new Academy program.  Below is an overview of my August 23rd Workshop:
 

REGISTER HERE!

Are you a Founder and want to earn more about growing your venture via partnerships and alliances? Or are you interested in a job in Business Development at a Tech or Internet company?

We will kick off this session distilling what Business Development actually means at an early stage company, and then we will discuss what it entails as the company grows. We’ll also discuss types of partnerships, as well as provide a framework for evaluating them.

Later, we’ll outline characteristics of a great Business Developer – who you should hire or the skills you need to get hired.

We will conclude the class with a Q&A session.

Specifics include:

  • What are considered Business Development functions at the various stages of a startup
  • Building and growing your company’s ecosystem
  • Types of partnerships
  • Types of deal structures
  • Tips for closing
  • How to evaluate partnerships when resources are limited
  • Potential pitfalls leading to unsuccessful partnerships

I HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!

Marissa Mayer – “Game On”

July 30, 2012 Business, Business Development, Entrepreneurship, Internet, Technology, Uncategorized, Women in Business

I, like most folks, was thrilled to learn that Marissa Mayer was chosen to be the next CEO of Yahoo!  And they chose her knowing she is pregnant. Go Yahoo!   Mayer, only 37,  is the youngest CEO in the Fortune 500. Go Marissa!

If anyone can bring Yahoo! back to prominence, it is Marissa Mayer. She is not only muy inteligente (she is an engineer who holds patents in Artificial Intelligence), she is young, hip, fashionable and feminine . The second half of that sentence may seem silly to point out, and even irrelevant, but it is absolutely NOT.  It is relevant to both  the “what to do with Yahoo!” conversation and the “how do we get more women into technology” discussion.

Let’s start with what to do with Yahoo!

Yahoo! has had 5 CEOs in 5 years.  Holy crap,!!   For years, it  has been a company in turmoil,  struggling with loss of talent and slowed growth.   BUT,  on any given day, Yahoo! has upwards of 20 million article views and, in any give month, 700 million people visit the site.   Though it will be a mighty challenge, the opportunity to reboot Yahoo! is HUGE.  So what should the company do?  I think the answer is to focus on WOMEN.  A nd who better to lead that charge than a pioneering woman in tech like Marissa Mayer?  I had some thoughts about this, and then I came across a spot-on post,  titled “Pink is the New Purple“, by Dave McClure.  Here are some highlights from his post:

“….  what if Marissa used Yahoo as a bully pulpit, to address the needs of a market that is roughly 50% or more of the global internet population? What if Yahoo began acquiring or partnering with properties specifically relevant to women, like Pinterest, ShoeDazzle, Gilt Groupe, BabyCenter, EcoMom, Oprah, ……Martha Stewart (or BritMorin.com),……?”

FashionTech / Fashion 2.0 / Social Commerce (whatever you want to call it) is crushing it right now.  There are tons of new online businesses aimed at girls/women/mothers that are generating a tremendous amount of traffic, revenue and profit.   And if they were not founded by women, they tend to have lots of female employees.  As a whipsmart businesswoman, a self-proclaimed online shop-aholic, and a mommy-to-be, I know Marissa has gotta be all over this.   She has, in fact, angel invested in several of these companies, including OneKingsLane and  Brit Media.  Mayer is the leading “Woman on the Web” right now, and she has a kickass opportunity to partner with kickass businesses for women (that are often by women) and turn Yahoo! into the leading destination for “Women on the Web.”

Now let’s hop from the impact Marissa could have by focusing Yahoo! on women, and discuss the impact she is already having on helping to attract women to the tech industry.

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t come across an article that discusses the lack of women in technology.  Marissa was already a stand-out role model for this cause.  Now, as the youngest CEO in the Fortune 500, she is even more prominent.  And she is definitely not shy about using her status as a platform for encouraging young women to get into technology. Below is one of numerous quotes from Marissa on this topic.

‎”One of the things I care a lot about is helping to… show girls that you can be feminine, you can like the things that girls like, but you can also be really good at technology.”

Marissa Mayer is a hip and fashionable female that young women can relate to.  With women now making up over 50% of undergraduates,  lots of young girls will now look at Marissa and her accomplishments, and be more inclined to study math, science, and programming in pursuit of a powerhouse career in tech.

Go Marissa!

Hopefully Marissa is reading this (ahahahaha!), or, more likely, Dave McClure’s blog.  Ms. Mayer – you are the right woman, at the right time, and the right place to have a powerful impact on women (students, consumers, employees, founders) all over this world.  C’mon sista, you got this!  Us women are watching you eagerly!