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Tech Cocktail Los Angeles

BakeSpace’s Babette Pepaj: Female Founders Have an Underdog Advantage

Cookbook Cafe

Babette Pepaj is an ex-reality show producer and now an organizer of all things food: Cupcake Camp in Los Angeles, food blogger conferences called TECHmunch, and food and recipe community BakeSpace. Still, Pepaj has seen a fair share of skepticism about the fairer sex:

“I have found that a lot of people have strong assumptions about female founders. ‘Are we going to leave our companies when we have children?’ ‘If we’re not technical, how will we ever launch a product?’ The list of questions goes on and on…”

“There’s sometimes a condescending tone among technology and finance pros when talking with a female founder…as though we need to be ‘schooled’ because we’re just too delicate to drive sales or manage our businesses.”

BakeSpace founder Babette Pepaj

But that hasn’t tripped her up. Running since 2006, BakeSpace launched cookbook builder Cookbook Cafe last month to help food bloggers monetize and help nonprofits fundraise (remember those homemade, crowdsourced cookbooks back in middle school?).

Anyone can build and market a interactive cookbook (with audio and video) as an iPad and web app. Cookbooks are accessible only through Cookbook Cafe’s iPad and web storefront, not as independent apps – but this comes with some perks for bakers: the ability to search recipes from all their cookbooks, sort recipes by ingredient, and use tools like timers and unit conversion. Sales are split 50/50 (including Apple’s 30% fee).

All this has been self-funded – a challenge, but not something women aren’t used to, Pepaj says:

“I’ve been to many business meetings that reminded me of when I played poker several years ago. One time in particular I was going head-to-head with a really unsavory chap – when he looked at me and said ‘I just don’t want to lose to you’ because I was the only woman at the table. While women are probably more in tune with their emotions when building a company, I find some men are often far more insecure. They have to have that VC tell them they’re ‘awesome.’ Women, on the other hand, already expect to be challenged, but that hasn’t stopped us.”

“I don’t have the time or patience to wait around for an investor to validate what I’m doing,” she adds.

You go girl!

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About the Author

Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.

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