When I attended the last Blind Guardian \m/ live show at the Fonda Theatre in LA a few weeks ago, I found the inspiration I needed for how I would begin my article about women in the tech industry.
In the show, there was a woman barely five feet tall like me, which is to say that she was a garden gnome compared to all the tall, long-haired, outraged Vikings that surrounded her, circling around her in the pit. She looked proud… determined… stubborn even. There she was, in the middle of the pit, and as one might guess, entering the pit during a Power Metal show can be a crazy – not to mention suicidal – thing to do. Well, she did it, and I am proud that she did.
It made me think about the many women who don’t dare to do something as brave as this, and for so many bad reasons. And when they actually do, they come to a realization that they could do it. Of course they can do it. Of course women can create startups! Not only can they, but they should, and they must! And, of course, they can raise funding as well! But that’s not an easy undertaking, either.
For the last few months, we have seen an emerging, slow, but deep trend heading toward the direction of the brave, garden gnome-like woman in the pit. Women are an invaluable source of innovation, initiative, talent, are highly-capable managers, and are resourceful in finding solutions. But… unfortunately they don’t have the help they need (and deserve). Why on earth are women raising only 4%* of the total funding? Why aren’t they raising 50% and creating more tech companies?
Today in LA, (and more precisely in the tech industry) there are new associations for women, dedicated funds, conferences, and inspiring panels and debates that encourage and support women. Emerging initiatives are coming, and it would be unfortunate not to look at them. Here are a few examples you can use, and don’t hesitate to contribute some of what you know in the comments!
Whatever your project industry, (tech or very niche) it is worth searching for inspiring initiatives, movements, and mentors any time, because women fall short of the mark in researching and asking questions, no matter how big or small. If we would dare to ask more and connect more, we would come to the realization that we are no longer alone. And if we keep an open mind, gather insights and wisdom, and give back to others, this movement will continue to grow, and we will make the numbers change in favor of the woman entrepreneur.
*Some say 9% or 14%, but in any case, there is still some progress to be made…
1. Women’s associations
Women’s Leadership Conference – get inspired once a year
Once a year in May, the #WLCWeho is sponsored by the City of West Hollywood and features two days of dynamic speakers, film screenings and receptions, compelling panel discussions, expert-led training, interactive workshops, a keynote luncheon, an exhibitor hub area, and so much more!
National Association of Women MBA – to mingle with your fellow women
Originally created for women who graduated with a MBA, (but also open to those who have the MBA level) this is a national association, and the local chapters foster amazingly kind and highly-skilled women who connect, and inspire each other. The membership is affordable, and offers incredible added value and human encounters here in LA.
CREATE Leadership – to learn things, find a mentor, and connect
Founded by Tiffany Crawford, nerd engineer and inspiring women coach, CREATE (LA, SF, NYC) endeavors to empower women in tech. They hold monthly networking events where developers, founders, project leaders, and recruiters hear an inspiring mentor’s speech and then connect all together. There are also some large events once or twice a year. The last one I attended (and presented to) was called BAWSE (Bad Ass Women Serial Entrepreneurs), a two-day conference for concrete takeaway tips and advice for women willing to create a startup. Quality over quantity of contacts is the key. You can find it there.
SheEO – to offer help or seek help with very low-interest loans
Launched in Canada in 2015, SheEO has created a new funding model for women-led social impact ventures called Radical Generosity, and LA is one of three US markets to launch this year. Currently only 4% of venture funding goes to women, and current models leave a lot of great businesses with few places to turn if they want to grow. The idea is that 1000 women per city commit $1,100 each to provide loans to ten (10) local ventures. By 2020, SheEO is on course to be in 1000 cities globally, loaning $1B annually to 10,000 women-led ventures in the US and abroad. Women who make these investments also select the ventures and back them with their networks and buying power. The ventures themselves work collaboratively to decide how the funding gets allocated. This is a great resource to keep in mind.
LACI's Women in Cleantech Initiative - to meet your pairs in this industry
Focused on increasing women’s participation (eventually expanding to other underrepresented populations) in the cleantech sector as entrepreneurs, advisors, employees, leaders, and investors by supporting gender diversity at an individual and institutional level.
Women in LAVA
Their mission is threefold: to provide a forum that brings together successful women in business; support and assist women entrepreneurs seeking funding from private equity firms, venture capital firms, angel investors, etc.; and educate aspiring and emerging women entrepreneurs with the knowledge necessary to establish and grow their successful business ventures.
There are also other very good associations to check, these are just a few of those I know and who have had very positive word-of-mouth.
2. Startup incubators and co-working spaces
They are organizing many events targeting women entrepreneurs, so it’s worth checking them out. Here are some that I often go to:
Present in Santa Monica, Downtown LA (DTLA), and Pasadena, and renowned for its community events who feature high-level panelists, investors, and cutting-edge content events.
They hosted their annual Founded By Women series a few months ago, a month-long celebration and global panel event that brought inspirational entrepreneurs together in seven different cities. They also organize many Lunch & Learn events for co-working space members and also have open events in the evenings.
LA locations here