The Evolution of Founder Friday: From Wine and Cheese to Global City Meetup

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Our CEO explains why we are renaming and rescheduling Founder Friday, our signature monthly networking event, to Women 2.0 City Meetup.

By Shaherose Charania (Co-founder & CEO, Women 2.0)

Trader Joes’ cheap wine, cheese and 20 tech peers sitting on chairs in my co-founder Angie’s living room. That’s how Founder Friday started (for those who haven’t heard the story). Yep, we were opening our doors to people we’d never met, nor been able to check up on via Google or Twitter, but that didn’t seem to matter. It was a community, our own network and a solid and intimate one at that.

Fast forward five years. A room packed full of women and men gathered in the heart of the tech scene in San Francisco, drinking not cheap wine and snacking on fancy, delicious cheese (and other appetizers). Add in business cards, speakers, teams and volunteers and you’ve got Founder Friday, or shall I now say, Women 2.0 City Meetup?

Arriving in the Valley

When I first arrived to Silicon Valley from Vancouver, I didn’t really know what it meant to be an entrepreneur, much less what a VC was or anything about what it took for a business to get funded and grow. I thought being a part of tech meant working at companies like Google and writing code all day… and all night.  That is until one day when my friend forwarded me an email with the subject line “e27” about a group of hungry young innovators getting together to explore entrepreneurship.

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Noah Kagan and Shivani Sopory, who had just graduated from Berkeley and were passionate about startups and innovation, hosted monthly events – informal gatherings, and yup, mostly guys. Noah thought there was a need for something just for women, so he suggested I meet with Shivani and a few of his other female friends. We met. It was awkward, I admit, but as we talked, we all learned that each of us cared about social impact and were enthusiastic about entrepreneurship and technology. We knew that men were funding their guy friends, and women were going to have a hard time being apart of it, so we decided to do something about it.

Without thinking about it much, we coined the term Women 2.0 in our first meeting and said it represented the next wave of entrepreneurs who would impact the future of tech; women, we knew, were out there!Personally, I was watching how micro-loans and new technology was changing emerging opportunities in Africa, India, Latin America, and beyond. I thought to myself, “if we don’t have role models in the Western World in this next generation of companies, things won’t change anywhere.”

One Thing We Could All Decide On

We knew that true innovation happens when smart, ambitious people come together and build authentic relationships, dream together and take risks together. We wanted to bring them together and so we did.

What was just informal gatherings in our own homes officially became Founder Friday about three years ago. We realized that to have true impact in the technology sector, which I believe is the most important industry of our time, we had to expand this idea of creating an inclusive community to other cities. So, we quit our day jobs and took Women 2.0 and

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Founder Friday on the road, launching in 20 cities in two years.

We learned from the TEDx movement and Mobile Mondays and built local volunteer teams to carry out the Women 2.0 mission in their cities (teams, we thank you!). We were squarely focused on impacting and diversifying the founder-landscape.

As we’ve grown, I’ve realized that Founder Friday has done amazing things for people globally. The stories I’ve heard are truly incredible – it’s only been through Founder Friday that I’ve realized the power of connection and community.

Today

We launched Founder Friday when we were in our 20s (clearly with nothing better to do on a Friday night). But now we’ve grown up, and so has Founder Friday. We are older, wiser and expanding the Women 2.0 mission to include impacting diversity from on all levels, including those who work in tech and those who are funding tech, as well as those who start tech companies.

Therein lies the changes, so …drumroll please!

We are renaming and rescheduling Founder Friday, our signature monthly networking event to:

Women 2.0 City Meetup.

But, guess what, it has the same intimacy as there always has been. Real time. Real People. Real Connections.

Explore the power for yourself first-hand.

See you there, every first Thursday of the month.

Shaherose is currently the President and CEO of Women 2.0. At heart she is a mobile and telephony junkie. She’s led new consumer products at Ribbit (BT). Previously, she was Director of Product Management at Talenthouse and JAJAH (sold to Telefonica/O2). Follow her on Twitter at @shaherose.