Tag Archives: entrepreneurs

Lady 2.0: why Silicon Valley is Better for Women

pamelaryckmanBy Pamela Ryckman, Author of Stiletto Network: Inside the Women’s Power Circles That Are Changing the Face of Business

Spend a little time with women in Silicon Valley, and you start to wonder: Who are these advanced creatures, with their super-glued networks and willingness to roll the dice? What makes them willing to open not only their Rolodexes, but also their wallets on each other’s behalf?

Many believe the region’s singular entrepreneurial ecosystem encourages everyone — and women, disproportionately — to revel in possibilities.

“It’s a culture of risk-taking,” says Sue Siegel, the C.E.O. of Healthyimagination, G.E.’s $6 billion global healthcare initiative, and a former partner at Mohr Davidow Ventures, a venture capital firm in Menlo Park. “Entrepreneurship is so embedded here. It’s what everyone talks about. If you don’t participate, you’re on the outside. When I did a counseling event at my son’s school, every single junior in his high school class knew what a venture capitalist was.”

Siegel says that when she first joined Mohr Davidow after having been an entrepreneur, she tried to determine why 40% of venture investing occurred in the Bay Area, rather than in Boston or other major cities. Boston also has world-class universities and research facilities, and in Boston, just as in Silicon Valley, founders benefit from infrastructure and support — lawyers, accountants, HR executives, and consultants willing to work on a project-basis to buttress the budding entrepreneur. If neither research resources nor professional scaffolding was the distinguishing factor, then what was so special about her hometown?

Siegel decided it was a deep and ingrained ethos, a set of unique cultural norms developed after three decades watching companies congeal and fall apart. Astounding victories and cringe-inducing failures are everywhere, so it’s second-nature for locals to gamble on start-ups. “Boston has the Brahmin bow-tie society and status thing. Failure in Boston is unacceptable. You cannot fail and feel good about it,” Siegel says. “But you fail in Silicon Valley and the next VC hires you because they see you’ve learned from it. They see you’re not going to repeat your mistakes now that you understand the landmines. Look at Google. They got turned down by so many venture firms and they’re proud of it. Here we wear failure as a badge of experience and honor. I survived!”

Heidi Roizen, a partner at Draper Fisher Jurvetson, the venture capital firm, and former entrepreneur, agrees, saying Valley denizens — both male and female — have no choice but to hustle. “I was employee number one at a start-up and if I didn’t make meaningful connections, follow up, and sell things, I wasn’t going to eat. When you’re in an entrepreneurial situation, you have to motivate people and you have to reciprocate and be helpful to others,” she says. “Life here is in constant beta, and that’s a really good thing. We constantly have to reinvent ourselves because of the way the world is evolving.”
Silicon Valley is the crucible. There’s no notion of status or society or lineage, and many of the wealthiest “locals” are fresh off the boat. While some insist it’s not a completely level playing field, this region remains the biggest meritocracy the U.S. has to offer. In chaos lies the opportunity.

By founding or joining start-ups, women see an opportunity to be judged on the merit of their ideas, rather than their gender. “The tech industry as a whole has been one of the most long-standing meritocracies. The start-up is the door to the palace. It’s always been the path for innovators to fast-track themselves to success,” says Amanda Reed, a partner at Palomar Ventures, the venture capital firm. Reed sees women streaming into the Valley in record numbers. “For women, there’s no climbing the corporate ladder or doing time in a male world. West Coast women don’t have that ‘I win-you lose’ competitiveness — the blue suits, the hard shells.”

Reed, who is in her mid-40′s, was raised in Silicon Valley and her father was an entrepreneur in the early days of the PC revolution. She spent all but three years of her career close to home, but she says her former Dartmouth classmates who remained on the East Coast tell a different tale. “I live under an equality bubble that sits over the San Francisco Bay area. I never felt the glass ceiling growing up and working in Silicon Valley,” she says. “When I went back to my college reunion, I had a lack of things to contribute when my friends wanted to commiserate about the plight of the sisterhood. Because I’d never felt it.”

Despite the bombshell sex discrimination lawsuit filed in May 2012 by Ellen Pao, a partner at Kleiner Perkins, one of the most illustrious VC firms, Reed says Silicon Valley gals are less organized because they don’t have a common enemy. They don’t feel the same oppression. Instead, these women credit male colleagues with providing milieus where they can thrive.
“Our work-life dynamic is just different. We work with male partners who take the afternoons off to coach their sons’ football teams. They’ll say, ‘I can talk to you after 6 p.m. tonight, but not before,’” Reed says. “Here in the Valley, you don’t feel like you have to hide the fact that you’re a girl. My partners would stop marathon Monday partner meetings and check emails while I went to use my breast pump. As long as I’m making money for the fund, they make it an easy place for me to work.”
Silicon Valley promotes better partnerships between the sexes, both at home and in the workplace. As a result, when women are disgruntled in their careers, they’re more likely to vote with their feet. “Why stay in a job where you’re unhappy? If you’re good, you leave and it’s their loss,” Reed continues. “We work seamlessly with men. We appreciate men. I’ve had the chance to mentor both my partners’ daughters. If it weren’t for the men we work with being pro-women, we wouldn’t be in a position to invest in their daughters’ companies. Their mothers said, ‘I kicked the door open, Sweetie. Now you run through it.’”
© 2013 Pamela Ryckman, author of Stiletto Network: Inside the Women’s Power Circles That Are Changing the Face of Business

Author Bio
Pamela Ryckman is the author of the forthcoming book, Stiletto Network: Inside the Women’s Power Circles That Are Changing the Face of Business. She has written for The New York Times, Financial Times, Fortune.com/ CNNMoney, International Herald Tribune, The New York Observer, and The New York Sun, among other publications. Prior to becoming a journalist, she performed strategy work for Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs. She lives in New York City.
For more information please visit http://www.pamelaryckman.com, and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter

Women Entrepreneurs: Pitch your idea

Article repost from Huffpost Technology here

Tell your story and be bold is my motto.

As entrepreneurs, innovators, and simply ideators, you must keep pushing the envelope. Perseverance and creativity are the name of the game. A recent Wall Street Journal study and article, “Women Executives Make Venture-backed Companies More Successful,” finds that “Venture-backed companies that include females as senior executives are more likely to succeed than companies where only males are in charge.”

Whether you are bootstrapping or pitching to get VC/angel investors, you must keep in mind two things about your business pitch: keep your story simple and sweet. I’ve been asked lately about what the top “must haves” for women are when pitching their businesses and/or ideas. There have to be some formulas for success, right? As women in a male-dominated industry, we should be sharing these trade secrets with each other!

Do women pitch differently than men? What makes our style different from men? The answer would be there are no gender differences in pitching your idea to an investor. Bottom line: whether you are men or women, you must do your due diligence in understanding your product and services. Only then can you know how your VCs/audience will see or react to your pitch, and you can effectively make persuasive arguments to cater to them.

One thing to understand is that you will undoubtedly get the door shut in your face. In fact, I’ve chatted with one entrepreneur who said, “I’ve pitched to over 25 VCs and they all said no.” I would say to do your homework! Learn about who the VCs you’re pitching to are. One size doesn’t fit all! You must know who they are and if they’ll even give your business model a glance so that you can strategize. Lastly, never give up!

With that in mind, here are my top 5 must-haves.

How to Pitch Your Ideas

WHAT/WHY/WHO/HOW/WHEN

1. What is your idea? Explain and elaborate about your concept
2. Why will this idea work? Explain your inspiration and the data to back it up
3. Who are your competitors? Or is there a similar concept?
4. How would this idea make your consumer’s life easier over your competitors? The next question would be how you get your Return of Investment(ROI)–you have to explain the benefits!
5. When will this launch? Explain your launch milestones and strategy behind them

I would love to hear your stories of your successful pitches! Tell me about your top advice to all of the entrepreneurs out there who are ready to tell their story in the comment section.

Check out the full study here by Dow Jones VentureSource

Follow Ivo @MsSonicFlare