Panelists at the recent "Founders Den Females' Success Stories" event were full of insightful anecdotes and wisdom about their personal journey on the long and often exhaustive path to creating a successful company. Challenges and growing pains of entrepreneurship were discussed with relative candor as the women outlined how they achieved funding, hired talent and attained the skills required to run their companies.
Three takeaways from the night were:
1. Don’t Be Afraid To Stand Out.
Panelists agreed that standing out -- from business strategy to attire -- was an integral tactic for their success. Standing out means not being afraid to be the only woman in the room. It also means not being afraid to speak about successes and failures with confidence. It was refreshing to hear women embrace success, not use self-deprecating language and speak with confidence.
2. Hire slowly.
Each of the women recounted stories of having hired too quickly and the undesirable consequences and damage the quick decision had on the company. Essentially, hiring slowly is really about finding the right cultural fit. The panelists stressed how the right team was essential to company’s success therefore hiring had to be part of a slow, measured strategy.
3. Change Is Good.
All the female founders agreed on one thing, that the long-term vision for their company always remained consistent. Execution changed as the needs of users or the company needs changed. They kept a fluid and open mindset and worked hard to achieve their goals understanding that change would be implemented wherever and whenever it was necessary.
It’s not for lack of desire, education or ambition that women in Silicon Valley seem to have a tough time breaking through the glass ceiling as entrepreneurs; it’s usually lack of support and infrastructure. A report by SFGate stated, “Silicon Valley is the most male-dominated of any region." The ascription of a stereotypical, masculine entrepreneur is one that is often hard to shake, despite empirical data that clearly demonstrates having a woman as an executive or on the board has massive benefits for the company. Although I am not a huge fan of strictly female focused events because I would rather see inclusivity in the current entrepreneurial culture, I am happy there is intention to create visibility for female run companies. Founders Den states that they graduate 20% female run companies, which is a great start. Hopefully, events that are more inclusive will push that to 50% for all incubators, accelerators or private clubhouses.
Wednesday’s event was moderated by Christina Brodbeck
Co-founder and Managing Partner, Rivet Ventures, Co-founder and CEO, TheIceBreak
Founding team member and first UI Designer at YouTube
Ruzwana Bashir, Founder and CEO of Peek.com
Founder and CEO, Wanelo
Founder and CEO, ThirdLove