5 Lessons Learned When Women Founders Go Against the Flow

Imagine a world where just as many women started businesses as men. Galvanize teamed up with Go Against the Flow, a movement to encourage 1 million women to be entrepreneurs by the end of 2017, to host a screening and panel discussion. The organization is working to create awareness in the tech community by providing a platform for women to share their stories and find mentors to help them navigate through challenges.

Galvanize hosted a panel discussion where women shared stories about overcoming their challenges and own insecurities such as the imposter syndrome, not feeling “ready enough,” and the challenges of being a female entrepreneur. They also discussed the importance of mentors, raising capital, and failure.

The panel consisted of Ritika Puri, cofounder of StoryHackers, Charu Sharma, founder of Go Against the Flow and Ellen.a, and Aubrey Blanche, global head of diversity and inclusion at Atlassian to share their stories. Here are the top five takeaways from that discussion:

Getting Started

The key to getting started is to do something. Literally, just do anything, and then talk it up like it’s the hottest thing that has ever happened. Someone will eventually believe you.

Women tend to feel like they have to be super qualified before they even attempt something, when half the battle is just getting started. So do it for free, do it as a side project. If you’re not sure you’re ready, do it anyways.

Get Feedback on Your Idea

Obtaining feedback on your idea before you head out to make a prototype and put it in the hands of customers is important before investing time and money. Charu said to ask yourself these questions: What makes you different? How are you the right fit for your customer base? How are you finding users who share your values?

Also, if you can answer these questions, you’re ready to quit your job tomorrow. Blank will use my product for blank, and blank will buy it for blank. Once you’ve identified these answers you’ll be well on your way!

Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is this feeling that we’re never good enough, ready enough, or qualified enough to do the job. Aubrey pointed out that it’s usually intelligent people who feel this way. Ritika added that everyone (even successful entrepreneurs) experience imposter syndrome, and that it’s not necessarily one of those things that ever goes away.

For founders, it’s something you learn to deal with by being open, practicing mindfulness, and understanding that’s it’s totally normal to feel this way as you’re navigating through the entrepreneurial journey.


Have friends and mentors who will be devil’s advocates is important in the journey. Ritika mentioned that although she doesn’t’ have a formal mentor, she’s found that mentorship comes from unexpected places, friendships, peers, and teammates. If you’re always listening and paying attention to others who have different skill sets as you, you can always learn something new.

The first step is knowing what you want when you’re looking for a mentor. If you don’t know what you want, how can you find someone to help you with it? Once you have a specific goal in mind, make sure you come to the meeting prepared with specific questions. This will help your mentor guide you in the right direction and make the best use of your allotted time with them. A good starting point is recognizing what you’re not good at and finding someone who is good at that skill, and can help you.


If you’re building something that doesn’t exist yet, failure is going to come up at some point. You’re figuring it out as you go.

In the beginning, the first couple of years are very hard. You look at failures as “this is everything that’s going wrong.” Founders eventually learn to recognize failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. Failure is always an opportunity to grow and open doors to paths you might not have seen before. Aubrey spoke on failure, saying:

“Yes, I did something bad, how can I market that as an awesome thing for the next person who asks me about it?”

Interested in learning more? You can watch the full panel here.

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Galvanize campuses are home to an eclectic mix of entrepreneurs, skilled programmers, expert data scientists, and men and women motivated to make an impact. As different and diverse as we all are, we’re united by common values. Interested in entrepreneurship, web development, or data science? Check out the Galvanized Newsletter, bringing you the best content from The Learning Community for Technology.
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