Y Combinator’s Female Founder Conference couldn’t have come at a better time. Silicon Valley has been inundated with negative stories about the role women play in the region. Female Founders Conference gave us the other side of the story.
The event featured Black Girls CODE founder Kimberly Bryant. After a successful career at Genentech, Merck, and Pfizer, Kimberly took Black Girls CODE from an idea to an international organization with seven chapters across the U.S. and one in Johannesburg, South Africa, reaching over 3,000 students.
I met Kimberly Bryant when she first launched Black Girls Code. I’ve been consistently impressed with her ability to make a significant dent in a pervasive problem – very few African American girls are exposed to technology leading to fewer women entering the field of engineering. I expect to see these numbers change in the near future.
Kimberly shared her advice on beating the odds as a founder:
We heard from Adora Cheung, CEO and co-founder of Homejoy. After a successful career in product management, Adora spent time cleaning homes, which lead to the founding of Homejoy.
Adora was relentless in acquiring her company’s first customers. In the early days, she attended outdoor street fairs to hand out water bottles with her company’s logo. It’s no surprise that today she reads all customer feedback to help her fine tune the Homejoy experience.
Show Me the Money
No event would be complete without a fundraising panel. Several successful entrepreneurs provided insight into the fundraising process.
Nancy Hua, CEO and co-founder of Apptimize, provided the audience with great advice on timing. She described the difference between raising a seed round and a Series A round as the difference between consumer sales and enterprise sales. Getting an angel investor to write a small check based on your vision and limited traction is easy. Getting a large investment from a VC fund requires time, substantial traction, and due diligence.
Make sure you don’t let this sneak up on you. Plan early for your Series A.
Mathilde Collin, CEO and co-founder of Front, an innovative method of sharing inboxes stated her fund raising was aided by targeting an anchor investor who had deep domain expertise, lending credibility to her company. She targeted Paul Buchheit, the creator of Gmail who eventually came on as an investor.
Find an investor who has credibility in your space. Like attracts like.
The Next Generation
I hope you will take the time to view the conference and share the link with women you know. We can complain about the negative portrayal of women or we can create our own story.
Videos of Female Founders Conference can be viewed here.