Our intern shares what her first experience was like at Founder Friday and dishes some valuable insight she learned from female founders.
By Guneet Kaur (Events Research Intern, Women 2.0)
When I walked into Founder Friday, I found myself in a room full of successful strangers, many of whom, have full-time jobs and experience in the "real world". Most of them were women, which was more comforting but still intimidating nonetheless.
I am a high school senior at Lynbrook High. I have always had a knack for event planning and research. Last year, I interned with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and was a member of the Youth Executive Board for the Red Cross. This June I started my internship here at Women 2.0. Since joining, I have worked on mailing lists, venue research, and countless spreadsheets; all of which make life here at Women 2.0 a little easier.
When I first heard of Women 2.0’s Founder Friday, I imagined it would just be another networking event filled with regulars who talk about how much fun coding is.
Turns out, I was wrong. Founder Friday is anything but your typical networking event. The monthly event is held in 19 cities around the world and the goal is to get women to create connections between entrepreneurs and investors of every stage. With a different speaker each month, this evening event provides you with relevant, first hand advice from entrepreneurs and a diverse palate of people.
From start to finish, the vibe was nothing less than positive and energetic. I met people from all different backgrounds of business and culture. It was truly amazing to see the variety of startups. They may not make breaking news yet, but in the meantime, will make so many people’s lives easier! Some of the most interesting stories were those of how the startups began.
One such story came from the speaker, Maria Renhui Zhang, who founded Alike, acquired by Yahoo! shortly after being one of the 10 finalists at the New York 2012 Women 2.0 PITCH competition.
Zhang gave an empowering speech where she imparted startup-related advice and shared a handy acronym - P.I.P.P.E:
Passion: If you ever want to succeed in the business world, you must be passionate about what you do. There is no point putting your heart and soul into something you would be willing to give up.
Integrity: Lying will do you no good. Anything you lie about will just come back to bite you.
Perseverance: Don’t lose hope. If you fail, learn from your mistakes; no quitting.
Energy: Yes, there will be countless nights where you will not get sleep. But then again you must have perseverance.
Want to get in on the action? Learn tons while having fun, too?! Click here to learn more about available internships at Women 2.0.
To get a closer look at Founder Friday I’ve highlighted three other exceptional women I met and the stories they had to share.
Ipsheeta Furtado (Twitter: @ftwipsheeta)
Who is she?
Ipsheeta is the co-founder of the FTW group which builds custom web applications for start-ups. After graduating from UC Berkeley, Ipsheeta went straight into what she thought was her dream job at a fabrication company. However, her mind quickly changed as she began to judge the people that managed her, which led to wonder, “why not manage people myself?” As a result, FTW group was born.
What did I learn?
Her bubbly personality and ability to keep people engaged in coversation, showed me how it important it is to have good networking skills, especially within the industry we have today. But she knows it is not all work, there must be a balance. Watching her, I also learned that when attempting to make conversation and build connection, you must build a personal connection. Sure you can talk for hours about HTML and Ruby, but if you can’t keep the conversation going beyond that, you are not taking full advantage of the networking opportunity.
Lydia Harter and Ali Price (@lydali)
Who are they?
Two young entrepreneurs, Lydia and Ali founded Lydali (ahah!), an e-commerce store that partners with artisans in 28 developing countries to sell ethical fashion. Their mission is to share the truly beautiful pieces made around the world by artisans that have a significant story. Although they have only been online for a year, they are already a major success.
What did I learn?
Don’t underestimate self-marketing. They wore the products they were selling, which in turn, encouraged me to go to their website and buy something for myself. (I was in love with Lydia’s cross-body bag!) Talk about a simple marketing technique packed with benefits.
Jenny Cao Wu (@jennycaowu)
Who is she?
She was once your typical Harvard graduate that worked a corporate job. Now, Jenny is the founder of an e-commerce website called Freshionable providing a personal edge to business fashion by partnering with individual artists who bring new and emerging designs.
What did I learn?
Follow your dreams. It is as simple as that. Jenny found it challenging to find business clothes that expressed her own style and knew many others faced the same problem. In an attempt to fill the niche she saw, Jenny started Freshionable. As cliche as it may sound, her story showed me it is possible to accomplish what you set your mind and heart to.
Will you be attending the next Founder Friday?
Guneet Kaur is the events research intern at Women 2.0 for the summer. She will be a senior at Lynbrook High School. Last summer, she held an internship at Silicon Valley Leadership Group. She is also president of Lynbrook’s Red Cross club and the liaision coordinator for the Youth Executive Board at the Red Cross. Connect with her on LinkedIn.