When I signed up for the Women 2.0 Pitch Conference a few months ago, I wasn’t entirely clear on what I was getting myself into. I was pretty sure of two things: women + startups = I’m in.
In the Bay Area, startup buzz is omnipresent…pretty much like God (or coffee, whatever your religion). Everyone’s working on a small, stealth, no-name company that’s going to change the world…or how you take notes, which will eventually change the world. With so much noise, it can be hard to separate the talk from the walk. Not at #W2PITCH, a conference that brought together 900+ women entrepreneurs together to learn, share, inspire, and motivate. These women are kicking ass and talking names (excuse my French) and I loved every minute of it.
What really made the conference compelling was the blend of entrepreneurs in the trenches (audience and those who actually pitched their ideas to a panel of VC’s) as well as those who’ve “made it big” – superstars in the startup industry – who shared their experiences in the trenches and beyond. Offering expertise and experience on tap, here are three of the most profound nuggets of wisdom I collected throughout the day:
Robin Chase (@rmchase), Co Founder of Zipcar, rocked the twitter stream with her best-loved and shared piece of advice: “Aspire to be a company people write love notes to.” It sounds simple, but I’m pretty sure that’s one of the greatest challenges you can set for a company.
Caterina Fake (@Caterina), Co-Founder of Flickr and Hunch, challenged the audience to constantly question how keep a humanistic element in the technologies we embrace. “Take the lead from the Amish – Ask: does the technology bring us closer together or drive us apart?” Behind all this technology is real people, relationships, and communities. How do we honor that in the technology we build?
Another piece of stellar advice came from Sheila Lirio Marcelo (@smarcelo), Founder of Care.com, gently – but firmly – laid the smack down on entrepreneurs (especially women) who wait for perfection before launching their idea or product. Sound familiar? You’re not the only one; the collective sigh was auditable in that room. She reminded everyone that in order for progress to occur, you have to move forward even if your idea, product, company isn’t exactly where you want it to be. Waiting for perfect is one of the biggest mistakes.
At the end of the day, it’s still hard. Entrepreneurship is not a path for the faint of heart. But if conferences like these remind us that we don’t have to go it alone – there’s a rich community of people supporting, nurturing, and cheering each other on to succeed. And from that, great things will come.