Forgoing B School for a Video Camera: Lessons Learned In Conversations with Entrepreneurs


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Reflections on lessons learned in conversations with CEOs (; presented at Ignite Sebastopol on 10.28.09.

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  • Excited to be here to tell you why talking with entrepreneurs about their advice for young women encouraged me not to take the GMAT
  • See a lot about what you don’t need to start a successful company, but I wanted to know w hat provides advantages in entrepreneurship Author teaches at Harvard
  • There are factors we’ve all heard about, but I wanted to delve into characteristics that make people quit their day jobs to kick off an idea
  • And where are the women? 1.5 year ago I couldn’t even name a female CEO of a major company—it seemed like we rarely hear about women founders and corporate execs amid stories of the Sergeys and Steves.
  • Thankfully I wasn’t alone—the local networking organization Women 2.0 works to increase the number of women entrepreneurs starting high-growth ventures, and they wanted to talk about this too. Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi
  • After a lot of brainstorming, other volunteers and I determined that one-on-one interviews with first time and accomplished company founders would begin to help us identify core characteristics
  • It started like summer camp on a Microsoft grant—this was a Friday night spent using a bit of sweat equity to practice our camera and lighting setup
  • Understand your strengths “ exactly me—it’s an art business that’s an Internet business and allows me to write everyday”
  • 2. Partnerships overcome obstacles Didn’t work with the city enough or find the right partners; leverage to make sure space is up to code—do research on physical space
  • 3. Don’t make assumptions “ Don’t assume you know something about the product, the market or the customer. Ask, seek clarification, research the idea.”
  • 4. Divide and conquer Set clear responsibilities—”I love to work but need to be focused and need to know on what” 4 founders at Mashery for a reason
  • Support others, don’t stop being curious, and take chances at opportune times
  • 5. Go your own way Trust your gut when it’s time to break out on your own: she’d edited tech books along with Seth Godin; don’t let opportunity to start your own endeavor pass you by Think of yourself as someone with a vision; if you really want to make something happen, you can trick yourself into doing something scary
  • 6. Understand customer diversity Women make up the majority of consumers and Internet users: “Don’t put their interests in pink and purple silos; they can be interested in parenting one minute and politics the next”; don’t make assumptions about your customers
  • 7. Keep it simple Game Developers Conference Years in the game industry: Don’t allow yourself to get intimidated by the technology—listen for tension and pain points Technology is only good if it’s doing something interesting
  • 8. Be diligent Second endeavor: Diligence and dedication; you cannot be a slacker to succeed in a startup
  • Where do we go from here? Two core ideas have become clear in kicking off this dialogue: education and mentorship
  • This is just the beginning of the work we’re doing around this topic. To date there isn’t published data around factors that improve a woman’s likelihood of starting a successful venture, and that’s a gap Women 2.0 is looking to fill.
  • I might ask you to think about the people you know who have been there and can offer advice—if you think there’s a story you can learn from, there probably is.
  • Forgoing B School for a Video Camera: Lessons Learned In Conversations with Entrepreneurs

    1. 1. Forgoing B School for a Video Camera (Lessons I’ve Learned In Conversations with Entrepreneurs) Emily Goligoski @emgollie
    2. 2. <ul><li>“ An Ivy League degree may get you a job as an investment banker or VC, but it won’t increase your odds of becoming a successful entrepreneur .” </li></ul><ul><li>-Vivek Wadhwa, “Got degree envy? No worries, you can still make it big” </li></ul>
    3. 3. <ul><li>Then what does? </li></ul><ul><li>Angel investment </li></ul><ul><li>Experienced advisors </li></ul><ul><li>Sand Hill Road address </li></ul><ul><li>Caffeine </li></ul>
    4. 4. <ul><li>Only 16% of Fortune 500 technology companies have women corporate officers. </li></ul>
    5. 5. In Conversation
    6. 6. Thank God for Basecamp.
    7. 12. Themes from Founders & CEOs <ul><li>Applaud others’ efforts </li></ul><ul><li>Ask questions </li></ul><ul><li>Know when to take a risk </li></ul>
    8. 17. Math & Mentorship <ul><li>Encourage young women to take science, economics and engineering classes </li></ul><ul><li>1-on-1 career guidance </li></ul>
    9. 18. Get Smart <ul><li>Long-term study with entrepreneurs </li></ul><ul><li>Other resources: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>She’s Geeky </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Future Women Leaders </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Astia </li></ul></ul>
    10. 19. <ul><li>What questions should you be asking of the people you know ? </li></ul>
    11. 20. <ul><li>Thanks to Saroj Yadav, Jazmin Hupp and Shahaherose Charania. </li></ul> @women2