Last night was NYTechWomen’s inaugural #ShowAndShine event and I can’t say that I could have chosen a better place for my first ever tech meet-up. Walking into the room I immediately sensed this was going to be a different type of group than I’d experienced in my previous forays at networking within the IT world. The other women in attendance were genuinely interested in what each other were doing and in supporting their efforts. I found myself in a group of people eagerly offering free (and good) advice without expecting anything in return.
After some mingling, the evening began with a self-proclaimed “hokey” exercise by the groups founder, Jenn Shaw and another group leader: Amy Cuddy’s Power Poses (http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are). We all stood and took up as much space as we could, feeling the cortisol levels drop and testosterone levels rise…an immediate confidence boost!
Taking advantage of the hormones running through my system I decided to follow Jen’s opening presentation to give my own #ShowAndShine. Having founded Bite Size Learning, a start-up focused on teaching tech concepts to non-tech professionals, 5 months ago, it was my moment to brag about being a solo entrepreneur. And by brag, I mean, state powerfully what I’m proud of about myself. (Thanks Jenn!)
Next up was Mary Scotton, who started with some amazing advice: own ALL of yourself, including your full name! It’s a huge part of who you are and its the way people find you…don’t leave it out! Mary, who works for Salesforce.com, has become a WIT (women in tech) evangelist there, creating Salesforce’s blog focused on women in the tech industry. It can be found at bit.ly/witforce
A lovely woman who’s name I unfortunately didn’t catch told us about her journey from artist to business owner to creating an e-commerce platform for selling Native American artwork. Her passion for sharing Native American culture and combining it with her love of technology was palpable.
Jess Waite spoke about creating HelloDev - a tech empowerment bootcamp for women transitioning from junior to senior development. It led it’s beta group a few months ago and received nothing but positive feedback.
Tiffany Walker spoke about her transition to the start-up world doing business development for LoveThatFit, a mobile sizing app for retail clothing. Speaking as a woman who wears a different size in every store, this sounds awesome!
Becca Wolen talked about her non-profit, BrighterChildren.org which helps young people give philanthropically to underprivileged kids in developing countries by throwing parties where the proceeds go to funding education. They successfully ensured schooling for 12 kids in 2014. They’re throwing an event at the Frying Pan on June 28th - check out their site for tickets.
Jenny Irizarry shared her story of creating a business plan after hearing so many people coo over her adorable daughter, Cricket. You can check out her blog at cricketlabelle.com …and stay tuned for a kids clothing line!
Sarah Kahn shared with us her decision to go back to school for her MBA, while Molly Hayward told us of her life changing moment, meeting a girl in Africa who stayed home from school every month because she didn’t have access to sanitary pads. This moment led to Molly creating Cora, a subscription service that delivers customizable boxes of sanitary goods to your door each month while simultaneously delivering the same to women in developing countries. (Check out her fundraising campaign here! https://plumalley.co/en/cora)
Nathalie Molina told us about her journey from serial entrepreneur to creating Entrepreneurs@Athena, a venture capital firm/incubator devoted to supporting female-led entrepreneurial efforts. She may also have had the most memorable quote of the night when responding to the question, “What does "women-led” actually mean?” Her response: “A Columbia dad on our board said it best, ‘were not doing all this for women to be #2”
Alicia Tan spoke about coming back to NY after spending a few years in East Asia. She has helped found a new start-up, Validat.io, which provides market-research and support to other fledgling start-ups.
Katrina Dagel shared with us her journey from jazz vocalist to creating an app focused on improving public speaking for women based on voice fluctuations. She was accepted into NYU’s tech incubator program and is currently building out the business.
Carol Pak gave us the success story of NYTechWomen’s founder Jen who used Carol’s female focused crowd-sourcing site, PlumAlley.co to fund her business, BellaMinds. (Which I should have mentioned earlier!) BellaMinds is focused on tech literacy & female empowerment within the workplace - it teaches the skills needed to move forward mid-career and just finished up a successful month of empowering women in Kansas City, MO. Cora is also currently using Carol’s site to raise funds.
Havona Madama shared with us the stories of instilling the entrepreneurial spirit in her children while simultaneously switching career paths. She had been focused on providing law services to start-ups and decided to create something of her own instead.
Pauline Mason told us about the work she’s been doing at HappyOwlMedia. They’re launching their first pre-school app in the next few weeks. If you have a pre-schooler at home, check out Rusty’s Tree House. The graphics sound amazing!
Diana Franco told us her story of going against the grain and choosing the more difficult paths presented to her in life. She now is bringing together tech vendors from Latin America with start-ups from the US, bridging relationships between continents. www.grenout.com
Another woman who’s name I unfortunately didn’t catch reminded us all that everything in life is just a tool. Education is a tool, tech is a tool…what we need to do is utilize all the tools we’re given and solve other peoples problems. Its solving problems that make us valuable players. Figure out a problem to solve and follow through.
Tricia Benton told us of her journey from leaving her role as a successful community organizer to follow her dream of becoming a house musician in NYC. She ended up landing a job as Project Manager for a start-up concierge service 3W which has allowed her to utilize her organizer skills while also leaving her time to pursue music.
Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank Bec Bliss, head of tech recruiting for XO Group (better known as The Knot, The Bump and The Nest), for hosting us. The space was fabulous and we all felt instantly welcome. Note to those reading: they’re searching for developers!
This overview doesn’t do justice to the amazing women who stood up in front of this group to #ShowandShine. Their stories were inspiring and empowering and motivating beyond what I could have expected. I encourage anyone reading this to reach out to any of the women listed above and to join us at the next NYTechWomen event…I know I’ll be there.