Event Recap: Women, Money and Tech

Event Recap: Women, Money and Tech

Standing room only on March 19 at the event held at Rev: Ithaca Startup Works!

Inside: emerging startups, interesting new programs, gender-aware investors & words of wisdom for entrepreneurs!

Nearly 200 people registered for the event from across New York and beyond, including investors, entrepreneurs, students and business advisors. Attendees participated in a meaningful dialogue about the challenges women in tech and finance face, and how best to overcome them.

Jennifer Tegan, board member at Upstate Capital and partner at Cayuga Venture Fund, kicked off the event, sharing her personal experience, and then addressing why the topic of women in tech and finance is important. She said, “For those of us who are women – because money is power and until we have access to the capital we need to start businesses, grow businesses and create wealth, we will continue to be shut out of the decision making roles and bodies that impact our lives and our bodies directly. For those of us who are investors – because diversity/inclusion leads to better decision making AND better corporate performance.  For those of us who are men and women – because this is not a zero sum game. When society provides economic opportunity to all of its members, all members of that society benefit. And the studies around empowering women through work – boosts productivity, creates economic growth and diversification and has overwhelmingly positive development outcomes. So let tonight be about that – figuring out ways for how we lift each other up so that all of us can benefit socially, culturally and economically.”

Another board member, #manbassador Brian Model of Stonehenge Growth Equity, introduced Upstate Capital to the audience. (Credit for #manbassador to Chloe Capital!)

Cultivating relationships between entrepreneurs and capital providers is Upstate Capital’s primary goal, and the program kicked off with lightning pitches from three women-led startups, Heat InverseCally and Shrubbucket.  Then, audience members heard from three potential startups coming out of WE Cornell, Cornell University’s new program for women studying STEM and considering entrepreneurship.        

Susan Fleming, a thought leader in gender dynamics in business and finance, introduced “Executive Women in Leadership”, a program she just helped to launch with Deb Streeter at Cornell. This eCornell certificate program is a flexible, online program for women to advance their skills.

Starting off her comments with dismal statistics on the rate for women overall and women of color especially, Elisa Miller-Out talked about venture capital investment rates and returns for women-led startups, and shared what she’s doing through Chloe Capital to change that status quo on a national scale.

Julie Baker, co-founder at venture-backed Ursa Space Systems, finished the individual presentations with her personal story building about how and when gender parity in the hiring process became part of Ursa’s ethos.  She made it clear that it started with CEO Adam Maher’s awareness of gender bias, and it’s evolved to make sure that women are consistently placed in leadership roles throughout the organization.

The last program component featured Andrea Ippolito, leader of WE Cornell, who spearheaded  a panel discussion that included Lindsay Stencel of Launch NY, together with Julie Baker and Elisa Miller-Out.  They discussed the differences between diversity and inclusion, how to recognize and address inherent gender bias, and some specific examples of what’s being done within their organizations to facilitate gender parity. Each person provided words of wisdom to fellow entrepreneurs:

Julie: “In addition to growing your network and talking to potential customers, learn to appreciate problems and be confident that you and the interdisciplinary team you have assembled can solve them. You may have to pivot! If you want to start a high-growth business, make sure that you are addressing a hair-on-fire problem, something that could bring great value to your customers in alleviating their pain.”

Elisa:  “Lead with the numbers! If you have traction with customers, early revenue or have reached some key milestones, be sure to share that early and often with potential investors and partners.”

Lindsay:  “Don’t ever walk into a room and let anyone make you feel less than what you are. If someone is going to treat you poorly, they’re not an investment fit for you. The best thing you can do is hold your head high, continue to push forward, be successful and end up on their anti-portfolio someday. The best revenge is wild success.”

Noa Simons, Executive Director for Upstate Capital, closed the program by thanking everyone and inviting them to upcoming events, particularly E^3 & NYBPC – the conference for entrepreneurs, featuring an expo with resources from across New York and beyond for entrepreneurs, and the finals for the statewide intercollegiate business plan competition, where over 100 teams will compete for prize money and recognition on April 26 in Albany.

Click here to see all our event pictures.

P.S. Through our events, we aim to strengthen connections across our communities. To support that goal, we invite event attendees to write their favorite non-profit organization on their business card, and we draw one card and donate $100  to the organization in honor of the person. Congratulations to Lucia Tyler of Tyler Admissions Consulting and the Ithaca YMCA for winning this month’s drawing!