BET on Yourself: Inviting Women Seeking Business, Entrepreneurism, Tech Mentoring

BlogHer Original Post

If you're a woman who has a big idea that involves technology, the Internet or social media, we have an opportunity for you. With the leadership of 50 pioneering entrepreneurs, technologists and business leaders, BlogHer is hosting a special event for women who want to start something. Whether you're considering a start-up of your own, or innovating from inside a company, we invite you to join BlogHer's 2011 Business, Entrepreurism and Technology conference on March 24-25 in Silicon Valley.

This is a long post, so here's a roadmap:

“Where are the women starting companies?”
Meet 50 amazing mentors
March 24-25, 2011 Conference Agenda
Who Should Attend and What You Need To Make the Most of it
A Little Context, A Lot of Inspiration

The inspiration for this event is the question we -- and perhaps also you -- have been hearing from mainstream media: "Where are the women in tech?" and "Where are the women starting companies?" The question reminds us of 2005, when we launched BlogHer to answer the question "Where are the women who blog?" Rather than continuing to talk about it, we decided to do something about it by inviting 300 blogging women (and men) to the first BlogHer Conference '05 to settle the question. Today BlogHer's annual conference is going strong, with more than 3,500 attendees expected this August in San Diego. We can't even count the number of businesses and partnerships spawned by connections made at BlogHer, but we know one thing for sure: Networking, community and mentoring fostered by this conference and made possible by our sponsors has made a huge difference for women who are social media leaders, who took the proverbial ball and ran with it.

"Where are the women starting companies?"

Back to the question at hand: Where are the women in tech and starting companies? We think the best way to answer such questions is to create the opportunity for women to show up, learn, connect and advance. And we're not alone -- Elisa, Jory and I are inspired by the amazing initiative of groups such as the Anita Borg Institute, Astia, Springboard Enterprises, Women 2.0, Women Who Tech, She’s Geeky, Girls in Tech, WebGrrls -- some of which specialize in in-depth, weeks-long courses in entrepreneurism aimed at women. We don't want to duplicate their work -- rather, BlogHer is pulling together a big-tent initiative with the goal of introducing women to the many resources available to them. Our goal? To inspire more women to take the leap: To fill the proverbial pipelines…funding pipelines, management pipelines, boardroom pipelines, product roadmap pipelines…with more women-led initiatives in business, technology and media. And we know these women are out there -- we hear from women every week who are looking for these opportunities. Some already have seed funding or angel funding and want introductions. Others just have amazing ideas that deserve encouragement to birth the kernel code or launch the next project that will “save” media or develop that killer app.

Meet 50 Amazing Mentors

BlogHerBET is the opportunity to bet on yourself if you're one of these women. Key to this event will be an opportunity for one-on-one mentoring by some of the industry's most incredible leaders who also happen to be women. Each of our 100 attendees will be matched with one of our 50 mentors for one hour each of advice, networking and recommended next steps. (An aside: For us personally, nothing has mattered to the success of BlogHer, Inc. as much as the personal investment of time, encouragement, tire-kicking, networking, tough love and even skepticism of essential mentors. Our mentors were the amazing women who advised our first conference, and the Silicon Valley insiders who counseled us immediately after, including Ann Winblad, Heidi Roizen, Caterina Fake, Charlene Li, ultimately leading us to a Series A investment by Venrock led by David Siminoff.

Just look at the list of women who have volunteered their time to offer inspiration, information and connection at this event:

  • Intrapreneurs. Including Betsy Aoki, social media and online community guru for Microsoft,  Nina Bhatti, Principle Scientist of HP Labs, Heidi Browning, Global Digital Officer of Universal McCann,  Sandy Carter, Vice President of IBM, Amy Chang, Director of Google's Measurement and Reporting initiatives, Jacqueline Jones of Kaplan University, Janice Nickel, Senior Scientist of HP Labs, Janet Riccio, EVP of Omnicom and founder of their G23 subsidiary, Crystal Warwell Walker, Director of Communications for The Coca-Cola Company and Telle Whitney, President and CEO of the Anita Borg Institute
  • Trend Watchers. Including Moira Forbes, Publisher of ForbesWoman, Charlene Li, founder of Altimeter and Pattie Sellers, Editor at Large, Fortune Magazine and Co-chair, Most Powerful Women Summit

March 24-25, 2011 Conference Agenda

Here's the general format of BlogHerBET '11:

March 24: Networking cocktail party hosted by Cisco
Cisco will host a Welcome Reception at their Telepresence Suites site in Santa Clara. Meet fellow attendees and try out the latest in videoconferencing and collaboration technology.

March 25: Conference hosted by Microsoft
* One-on-one mentoring (all 100 attendees get an hour)
* Peer-to-Peer networking
* Panel discussions on business, entrepreurism and technology. Sample topics include raising venture capital, choosing co-founders, leading product development…whether or not you’re a developer,  and technology trends that are now driving successful design, distribution and promotion of virtually every technology or media idea
* How-to showcase of successful pitches from women who have participated in programs with organizations like Astia, J-LAB and Women 2.0, among others

Who Should Attend and What You Need to Make the Most of It

Here's what you need to attend:
(1) An idea. Or a fledgling business. Or both.
We invite you to attend if you have a big idea and need encouragement to build it into a business. We invite you if you already have your seed or angel funding and want to take it to the next level. We invite you if you want to lead an innovative new program or initiative at your company. Are you anywhere in between? Great - join us!

(2) Do your homework.
At the very least: Bring five bullets about your idea, concept or business. If you can, bring a full-blown pitch deck.  If you don't already have one, hey, you have until March 24. Let's go!

(3) Invite men from venture capital, technology, business and entrepreneurship
One final point, so as to be explicit: Men are absolutely and enthusiastically invited to attend this event. In addition to speaking with would-be women entrepreneurs, Elisa, Jory and I have met dozens of men in the industry -- from VCs to engineers -- who openly seek our advice on how and where to recruit women for their start-ups and businesses. So yes indeed, we invite men interested in funding, hiring or advancing entrepreneurial women to please join us. In fact, please bring any collateral material you need to compete for these women as resources. If you have a fund or an opening, we think they'll be interested and impressed to see you walking your talk at this event. And if you know women who would benefit from this event, contact Kristin Darguzas about sponsoring a table of ten of them!

A Little Context, A Lot of Inspiration

In closing, we wanted to share three quotes that inspire the opportunity as we see it: One about the need for more women entrepreneurs, which we think is beautifully captured by Eric Ries, one urging women to take the initiative, by Sally Helgeson, and one about the appetite by women to be entrepreneurs, articulated by Cindy Gallop:

"Diversity is the canary in the coal mine for meritocracy. As entrepreneurs, more than any other industry, we’re in the meritocracy business. The companies that make decisions based on merit, rather than title, politics, or hierarchy execute faster and learn faster than their competitors. For startups (and other innovators), that’s a decisive advantage." ~ Eric Ries

“Without the female vision, organizations also lose power…But women must also take the initiative. They can’t wait for organizations to start valuing what they see. They need to build a market for it by teaching their companies to recognize the power of the female vision.” ~ Sally Helgesen

"[N]ever doubt for a moment that as many women as men burn with a passion to start something, to stick with it and make it grow, to have an impact, to make a difference, to change the world through technology."
~ Cindy Gallop

So. Who's in?

By Lisa Stone, Elisa Camahort Page and Jory Des Jardins
BlogHer Co-founders


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