February 24, 2015
On Saturday, Y Combinator hosted the 2nd annual invite-only Female Founders Conference, which gathered around 800 female founders from around the world. One of the largest values that attendees found in the conference was the openness and eagerness to share and engage. There was a palpable eagerness to learn and explore, and to pick up as many pointers and lessons as possible. One of the most common themes in those lessons shared was: “Why not create the impossible?”
Lessons Shared From Speakers at Female Founders Conference
At Black Girls Code, the mission is clear: “We think we’ve been put on this planet to design the future of technology for women and girls of color.” Kimberly Bryant, the founder of Black Girls Code, relies on lessons combined from Good to Great by Jim Collins the entrepreneurial powerhouse Oprah Winfrey. Identify your purpose, get on with the business of living it out, and own your purpose. “We see our purpose as changing the face of technology. There’s more diversity of thought that will be both a business imperative and a social justice imperative for the industry itself and for the nation as a whole.”
Find that big, audacious goal and set your stake. Your big goal needs to scare you. Have a reckless disregard for the impossible.
“Life doesn’t stop just because you’re trying to do the hardest thing you’ve ever done before.” Tracy Young built PlanGrid with friends and coworkers to solve major construction industry problems. She says that running a startup can consume your entire life, and it’s so easy to just blame it on the company. As soon as you recognize that you should hang out with those you love, but you don’t have time, pick up the phone. Never do anything that makes you unhappy. Founding a startup is a long process that takes every part of you. You have to care about it that much.
If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, then you will compromise too much of your life.
Jessica Livingston, Founding Partner at Y Combinator, addressed culture in startups and startup accelerators. “Company culture starts when it’s just two people working on an idea in a kitchen.” The founders who care about their startup culture the soonest are the ones building the greatest companies. “This culture needs to grow organically in the startup’s own space,” she added, explaining why Y Combinator intentionally does not offer office space for its cohorts. “Before Y Combinator, character was not traditionally an important factor for investors.” Livingston brought personal insight to the selection process that proved to be valuable to the program.
When you meet a YC founder, you’re meeting someone you can trust.
We asked YC alumni in attendance at the conference to share their impressions of the conference.
Claire McDonnell of True Link and Dawn Cardon of Learnist agreed that the camaraderie was greatly appreciated; the support of knowing you’re not alone: hearing the stories of the other founders assures you that you’re in a supportive environment.
Cathy Han of 42 Technologies found great value in tapping in to a great network of other women.
There is strength in the network. These female founders are helping to change the male dynamic in tech. These are the leaders and pioneers that young girls and boys will idolize and choose as heroes.
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