Women Founders Of Orange County, It’s Time To Sit At The Table.

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Sheryl Sandberg's TED talk rings through women's heads - "Sit at the table." By Shaheen Sheik-Sadhal (Attorney, Esse Law Group)

My passion is entrepreneurship. Nothing beats the feeling of taking the risk to follow your passion and make an impact on the world on your own terms. So when I was invited to join Tech Coast Venture Network, a non-profit committed to empowering entrepreneurs, as a Board Member, of course I was excited. And then I went to the first meeting.

When I arrived, I was the only woman amongst 15 older Caucasian men. I wanted to run out the door, intimidated that my voice would go unheard in a setting like that. But a line from Sheryl Sandberg’s TED talk rang in my head: “Sit at the table.” And so I did.

If we women don’t sit at those boardroom tables, then it’s a certainty we’ll go unheard. The same goes for founding startups – women founders are critical to this game. Without women founders, we will be missing from the larger conversation of what shapes our lives in business. As an active member of TCVN’s board of directors, it is one of my personal mandates to help bring women founders-to-be out into our network so we can help them take their entrepreneurial dream from their head to the market.

TCVN is a 28-year old non-profit with a mission to empower entrepreneurs. We host monthly workshops (topics include legal issues for startups, marketing, business development/sales, etc.), happy hours for community building, and forums that feature entrepreneurs on their journey (like Kim Walls of Episencial, Shivani Siroya of InVenture, Dana Mauriello of Profounder, to name a few). It is the only one of its kind in Orange County, California.

While Orange County is traditionally known to be intimately connected to the biotech industry, its reach is quickly expanding with the refreshed infusion of startup energy in the last couple of years. We are now seeing more tech startups in a variety of sectors including marketing, finance, and media. TCVN has been integral in nurturing the startup scene here in Orange County and continues to till the soil of this robust but underutilized ecosystem.

We make a strong effort to partner with complementary organizations and institutions to help entrepreneurs make the connections they need. Our Board Members are tied to such groups as Tech Coast Angels, Chapman University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Ethics, K5 Launch, an Orange County-based tech startup incubator, and of course, Women 2.0 Founder Friday Orange County.

This month, on May 24 at TCVN’s monthly forum, I will be conducting a fireside chat with Founder and CEO Tracy DiNunzio of Recycled Bride. The forum is entitled “The Entrepreneur’s Trek – Do You Have What it Takes?”.

Do you have the heart and guts of a true entrepreneur? What are you willing to do to change the way we do business? Don’t wonder any longer. Come meet Founder and CEO, Tracy DiNunzio, of Recycled Media during her fireside chat with Shaheen Sheik-Sadhal, TCVN EC Member. Learn just how much Tracy kicked down the sides of the proverbial box to build the world’s largest wedding marketplace. From fine artist to entrepreneurial disruptor, Tracy’s journey is a lesson for all of us on how not to watch life pass by from the sidelines.

TCVN would be thrilled if the Women 2.0 community would join us on Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 6pm in Irvine, California. Details available here. Also, I’m happy to offer a guest pass to the first 5 Women 2.0 members who contact me at shaheen at esselaw dot com and mention this blog post! Let’s continue to build the Orange County tech startup ecosystem and make sure we women founders are sitting at the table.

Editor's note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. About the guest blogger: Shaheen Sheik-Sadhal is an attorney at Esse Law Group. Merging her passion for social justice, her love of the law, and her entrepreneurial spirit, Shaheen Sheik-Sadhal founded Esse Law Group, a boutique firm with a mission to shift American business to a new sustainable economy and serves pioneering clients that forge their core business model with social responsibility. Shaheen is an active Board Member of TCVN, a mother, and a professional musician. Follow her on Twitter at @EsseLaw.