ITP: Women Entrepreneur Festival
Last week, I covered the second annual ITP: Women Entrepreneur Festival produced by Midori Yasuda at NYU entitled “Getting Down To Business”.
Hundreds of women entrepreneurs, investors, mentors and the like all joined forces under one roof for an all day event kicking off with various panel discussions followed by full on mentoring. Panelists included entrepreneurs and founders such as Sugar Sync (syncing files on line) and Urbansitter (need a babysitter? ask your friends!) talking about their experience and answering any questions from the audience and those streaming online.
I have to say, as a women founder myself, I couldn’t get excited about the Sugar Sync demo seen here at all. What do you think? I’ve seen hundreds of products and pitches and felt like the company could deliver the message a bit stronger and focus more on the actual product and how to use it by creating a storyline based upon the features, perhaps. I wasn’t sure what their motive was in creating this demo but if you use Sugar Sync, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. On the flip side, I do like the website.
“Be a pain killer not a vitamin” – Caren Maio, CEO Nestio
I was able to sneak some time away from Midori to ask her a few questions about the event.
Why did ITP launch and how many women have attend in the past years? ITP is a 2 year graduate program in interactive media. It’s unusual to have a tech program with 50% women. We find that the atmosphere is different when the balance shifts towards more men. So Nancy Hechinger, one of our faculty members, together with Joanne Wilson, gothamgal, came up with the idea to have a festival to celebrate women in tech startups. The first WE had more of a tech bent to it, but it has since evolved into more general women owned businesses. The first year, I believe we limited it to 200 people. The past 2 years, we have had 300 people, which is the max capacity.
Everyone starting a company will experience emotional roller coasters from high “successes” to low “fails”. What do you consider “failing”? Failing is not learning from your mistakes.
What do you think the biggest take away from yesterday was for women? Being a part of an establishing network is huge. Women need support for each other. To be confident and proud of their accomplishments and keep plugging away.
I also asked Anna Curran, CEO and Founder of Cookbook Create about any advice she can give to a women entrepreneur starting out on her own. The panel discussion “Before You Leap” was extremely interesting and I wanted to sit and listen to hear questions and answers from how to leave your day job to how much money did you burn through your first year. For all women entrepreneurs just starting out, this is what Anna said, “Follow your vision, your heart, your path. Don’t be afraid to do it your own way. There’s a lot of conventional wisdom out there — that is just that: conventional. You will cross paths with many people who won’t understand what you are doing or see the same amount of opportunity. Let that fuel you and inspire you to show them a new way– your way.”
I also think it’s important to walk away with a few important keys and factors such as:
- Definitely invest time into market researching. Time and time again I listen to business pitches and not one person mentions current competition.
- Don’t be afraid to call out the competition. Potential clients want to know why you are unique and special. What “pain” are you solving that nobody else is today? Investors want to know who you are up against and how you measure it.
- Know who your targeted audience is, your demographics should not be “oh everyone who eats healthy or needs a babysitter.” You need to dig deeper. For example (free food for thought just this once!) “people who use a regular babysitter make over X amount of dollars and work X hours and are within X and X age.” The more information you can provide in your business and marketing plan, the better. Know your STUFF!
If you’re a creative entrepreneur and are looking for advice and guidance, please contact me directly.