Imagine a World Where Just As Many Women Started Businesses As Men

Go Against the Flow, is movement to encourage 1 million women to be entrepreneurs by the end of 2017, to host a screening and panel discussion. They are creating awareness in the tech community by providing a platform for women to share their stories and find mentors to help them navigate through challenges. With popcorn and glass of wine in hand, we hit play and had the pleasure of hearing the stories of some amazing women who overcame their own insecurities – like imposter syndrome, not feeling “ready enough”, and the challenges of being a female entrepreneur.

We followed the screening with a panel discussion on the challenges of being a female entrepreneur and how they overcame them. We invited Ritika Puri, Co-founder of StoryHackersCharu Sharma, Founder of Go Against the Flow and Ellen.a, and Aubrey Blanche, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Atlassian to share their stories.

We used Slido to cover a variety of questions such as:

  • How do you prepare for entrepreneurship? What skills were helpful to learn? Did you have any side projects? What books did you read?
  • How do you measure your success? Tell us about a time you “failed”.
  • How has being a woman affected your journey as an entrepreneur or when fundraising?
  • Do you have a mentor? How did you go about finding one?

Here are the top 5 takeaways:

1. Getting started. “The key to getting started is to do something, do anything, and then talk it up like it’s the hottest thing that has ever happened. Someone will eventually believe you.” Women tend to feel like they have to be super qualified before they even attempt something, when half the battle is just getting started. So do it for free, do it as a side project. Not sure if you’re ready, do it anyways.

2. Getting feedback on your idea before getting a prototype into the hands of customers. What makes you different? How are you the right fit for your customer base? How are you finding users who share your values? Charu said, If you can answer this question you’re ready to quit your job tomorrow. “Blank will use my product for blank, and blank will buy it for blank”. Once you’ve identified these answers you’ll be well on your way!

3. Imposter Syndrome. When you think you’re a complete fraud and soon everyone is going to find out. It’s the feeling that we are never good enough, or ready enough, and are not qualified to do the job. Aubrey pointed out that it’s usually intelligent people who feel this way. Ritika added that everyone (even successful entrepreneurs) experience imposter syndrome, and that it’s not necessarily one of those things that ever goes away. It’s something you learn to deal with by being open, practicing mindfulness, and understanding that’s it’s totally normal to feel this way as you’re navigating through the entrepreneurial journey.

4. Mentorship. Have friends and mentors who will be devil’s advocates. Ritika mentioned that although she doesn’t’ have a formal mentor, she’s found that mentorship comes from unexpected places, friendships, peers, and teammates. If you’re always listening and paying attention to others who have different skill sets as you, you can always learn something new. The first step is knowing what you want when you’re looking for a mentor, if you don’t know what you want how can you find someone to help you with it. Once you have a specific goal in mind make sure you come to the meeting prepared with specific questions. This will help your mentor guide you in the right direction and make the best use of your allotted time with them. A good starting point is recognizing what you’re not good at and finding someone who is good at that skill, and can help you.

5. Failure. You’re building something that doesn’t exist yet, so of course you’re going to fail. You’re figuring it out as you go. At the beginning, the first couple of years are very hard, you look at failures as “this is everything that’s going wrong”. Learn to recognize failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. Failure is always an opportunity to grow and open doors to paths you might not have seen before. Aubrey views failure as, “Yes, I did something bad, how can I market that as an awesome thing for the next person who asks me about it?”

After the panel we asked the brave attendees if they would like to practice their pitch and tell us a little about their company. We heard from Gabriella C. Cook, Business Strategy and Marketing Consultant for Saint Gabe, who is passionate about helping startups and businesses ideate, evolve, and excel. Their strategy is to partner with startups and companies to develop customer-centric strategies for sustainable business growth.

Following the panel, several women came up after the event and expressed how inspired they felt and one even mentioned that she had never really put much thought into getting a mentor, but after tonight she was determined to find one.

If you know an awesome woman who is thinking about being becoming an entrepreneur but hasn’t made the leap just yet, pass along this post and share the Go Against the Flow movement with them. You just might inspire the next Cheryl Sandberg.

Didn’t make it? Don’t fret, you can watch the full panel here.

Women in Tech Lunch & Panel Discussion at Tradeshift

   Last week we had the pleasure of teaming up with Tradeshift for a Women in Tech Lunch & Panel Discussion. The goal was to connect women working in tech with a great company, and each other over lunch, networking, and some interesting topics.

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There were a lot of questions about the difficulties in working with mostly men, how to make your voice heard, and why you should GET A MENTOR.

My top takeaways from the panel of lovely Tradeshift ladies were…

1. Get a Mentor

Sarika Garg – SVP & GM of Network & Apps made a great point, she said don’t feel like your mentor has to be Sheryl Sandberg. Your mentor is someone who can help guide you in your career. They’re likely someone who has already achieved what you are striving to do, so luckily you can learn from them, and the path they took. She recommended reaching out to someone who inspires you and ask to meet for coffee.

2. Share Your Opinion (even if you’re not sure if it’s right)

ALWAYS speak up at the table. Sometimes as women we feel like we want to make sure we have thought our ideas through 100% and feel intimidated to share until we’ve thoroughly done so. It’s ok if your idea isn’t 100% thought out, share it anyways.

3. You don’t have to have a tech background to work in tech

It was interesting to hear the diversity of backgrounds from each of the women and their stories. We learned you don’t have to have a tech background to work in tech. In fact coming from a different background can prove to be an advantage because you can offer a different perspective and opinion.

4. Come prepared with data

Tatiana Afanyseva – Director of Marketing & Sales at Tradeshift shared her story of how she started as an intern and after only a few months was leading an entire marketing team. She said she always came prepared to meetings with data. This really forced everyone to pay attention and take her seriously.

A special thank you to the lovely ladies who participated in the panel and Lynn Feldman VP of Global HR & People Operations at Tradeshift

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Panelists: Female leadership of Tradeshift Holdings: Anja Eriksen – Chief of Staff, VP of Strategy & Process, Tatiana Afanyseva – Director of Marketing & Sales, Sarika Garg – SVP & GM of Network & Apps. Moderator:Toni Nielsen – Recruiting Manager

Thank you to ZeroCater for providing a tasty lunch.