By Sukrutha Raman Bhadouria (Organizer, Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners) Earlier this week, I attended a panel discussion about women entrepreneurs at Microsoft's office. Representatives from Women 2.0, Astia, 85 Broads, Women in Public Policy (WIPP) and National Association for Women Business Owners (NAWBO) talked about best practices and practical advice for women entrepreneurs at this "Your Office, Your Terms" cloud event. Sepideh Nasiri represented Women 2.0 on the informative panel.
I learned a lot about the challenges a woman could face when starting her own company, and how to be prepared for it.
Here my top 6 takeaways from the event:
- Talk about your company and products in the present, not in the future - right from the start! Your company exists from the moment there is an idea. Literally fake it until you make it.
- Thoroughly research the VCs you plan to approach. Find out whether they fund businesses like yours. Perfect your pitch before you meet them. There's definitely a learning curve on how to craft your pitch well, but it's not rocket science.
- Research your potential competitors in detail. Find out what makes them successful. Your biggest customer might be your biggest competitor one day and vice versa.
- Don’t be afraid to pitch your idea to anyone who will listen. The more you pitch, the more feedback you will receive. Don't worry about someone stealing your idea - you will only improve your pitch with practice.
- The biggest challenge for women entrepreneurs is themselves. Learn to sculpt your language to be positive, and start a healthy pattern early.
- Get the right people on the bus. Technology has to be your friend if you want to be competitive today. Make sure someone on your A-team is the technologist if you aren't.
The panel also shed light on their respective organizations and what they do to help women entrepreneurs:
- Women 2.0 is a platform for women entrepreneurs to share their stories
- Astia is a program for women entrepreneurs in many cities
- 85 Broads is a network for women entrepreneurs
- Women in Public Policy advocates for and on behalf of women-owned businesses
- National Association of Women Business Owners gives a voice to America's 10M+ women-owned businesses
The Q&A session that followed exposed typical problems women entrepreneurs face when they approach VCs, and how to handle them.
Above all, I learnt that if you really want to start a company, there are various organizations that can help you through the process. Aim for the stars, dream big, and believe in yourself!
Editor's note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. About the guest blogger: Sukrutha Raman Bhadouria is an organizer of Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners. After getting her M.S. in Electric Engineering from USC, Sukrutha now works as a Senior QA Engineer at Citrix Online, where she is responsible for maintaining the high quality of GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar. Sukrutha is involved in Girl Geek Dinners because she wants to change the world for girls, one geek dinner at a time.