By Rebecca Lipon (Application & Judges Coordinator, PITCH Competition 2012) Women 2.0 PITCH Conference culminated in a PITCH Startup Competition five months in the making. Online applications were judged by representatives from 20 VC firms to select our finalists.
Our finalists demonstrated exactly what we at Women 2.0 have been saying for a while - women are starting companies outside the "pink-collar" space with varied backgrounds at different life stages targeting every phase of the investment cycle.
Here are 4 myths our finalists annihilated:
Myth #1 - Woman entrepreneurs only focus on fashion or beauty.
While women may be uniquely qualified to address the $330 billion per year beauty market, that is certainly not the only market they are targeting. Our finalists teams addressed issues in eCommerce (Buyosphere), Media (DINKlife), Beauty (Perfect Beauty), Finance (Prosperity), Social interaction (Tiny Review, Kismet), Career preparation (Hotseat), Electronics (Evoz), and Healthcare (DocPons). Even our "pink-collar" startup had two strong technical women on the founding team.
Myth #2 - Entrepreneurs need a pedigree of employment at high-tech heavy hitters to get investment.
While some of our founders worked at a top tier software firms in their previous lives, but others were straight out of college. We had finalists with backgrounds in consulting, advertising, PR, finance, economics, art, material science, medicine… you name it. Some founders taught themselves how to code, and others sported advanced degrees in Computer Science. Some founders already launched startups and others had successful companies for years before considering outside financing. There is no cookie-cutter background for a successful entrepreneur.
Myth #3 - There's no way to launch a successful startup quickly.
Hotseat, one of our finalists, was founded just 5 months ago, launched a prototype in time to apply for PITCH, and is now well-positioned with some great contacts for raising a seed round. There are many rounds of investing - friends and family, seed, series A, etc. There is even an alternative to simple seed investing with incubators like Y Combinator, 500 Startups, AngelPad, Astia and more. Our live judges ranged from VCs to founding partners of incubators and angel investors - we weren't biased about the kind of capital our finalists were ready to take; we just expected them to have realistic expectations about which phase they were in. Don't hold yourself back - if an idea is good, prototype it, launch it, pitch it, and reach out to the community. You never know what may happen - ideas can become reality quickly.
Myth #4 - Entrepreneurs are 22-year-olds who can live cheap and have no responsibilities.
Our finalist teams consisted of mom-preneurs, recent college grads, and DINKs (dual-income no kids). We had established professionals who launched a utility to improve their productivity that turned into a product ready for investment to scale, and folks who had stepped back from their establishment careers to found a company about which they were passionate. Old companies can change, new companies can grow, newbies can solve great problems, and moms can be founders, too. We respond to passion, not age. If you have a problem worth solving, and you are the right person to do it, don't let anything stand in your way.
Are you ready to debunk more myths?
We are looking forward to seeing your pitch next year!
Editor's note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. Photo credit: Michael O'Donnell of ZatPhoto Photography. About the guest blogger: Rebecca Lipon is a product marketing manager at Synopsys, where she works to make sure the technology for verifying computer chips is state-of-the-art. A passionate advocate for women in technology, Rebecca mentors several San Francisco Bay Area non-profits and sits on the board of Spark SF, an organization promoting equality for women throughout the world. Rebecca is also the lead singer of the funk and soul band Sinister Dexter. She holds a B.S. in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from MIT. Follow her on Twitter at @rebeccalipon.