Austin, TX - Funding is a tough nut to crack for many first-time entrepreneurs, and even a tougher nut for those from atypical backgrounds, such as minorities, women, LGBT members. In a restaurant in south Austin, a group of powerful women from several corners of the country gathered to seriously discuss the problem. The women of the Pipeline Fellowship and Empower Lounge jointly hosted a talk by Natalia Oberti Noguera interviewing a serial entrepreneur and Dell Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Ingrid Vanderveldt, during the week of SXSWi.
Ms. Vanderveldt is an investor and an entrepreneur who has sat on both sides of the funding table, and could address the issues facing both sides. She currently heads a $100 million credit fund at Dell that seeks to make strides on the Dell’s innovation space, and outside of that, is mission-driven to serve as an example to other women, such as helping the victims of Haiti and helping other women to find their voices and become successful.
Yet like many others, her personal experience with fundraising for her companies is filled with uncomfortable moments, and tremendous ups and downs. When building her first company which she eventually sold with success, Vanderveldt had encountered significant difficulties in raising funding. An investor sat her down and told in confidence that the reason she couldn’t raise funding was that she didn’t fit into the mold. To overcome the fact, she cut her hair, wore no makeup and only black suits, which didn’t improve the situation. The problem is only too common as female entrepreneurs who raise funding become keenly aware that, as women they face a complex decision of whether owning the fact that they do not fit the stereotype, or trying to hide that fact behind clothes.
While the issues facing female entrepreneurs are complex, a key obstacle lies in that the gatekeepers to capital are predominantly and were historically men. What does our current environment look like? 12% of angels are women and 4% are minorities, according to Natalia Oberti Noguera, Founder and CEO of the Pipeline Fellowship. The problem is a lack of an efficient marketplace, as the funding side is under-developed. The solution to address the problem is to build a better and more efficient marketplace where willing capital can find attractive investment opportunities irrespective of the non-typical backgrounds of the entrepreneurs.
To that effect, programs such as Pipeline Fellowship, Golden Seeds, Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network, and others are filling a much needed void to train accredited female investors on how they can strategically, financially and legally invest in startups. However, the numbers of female and minority angel investors highlight a scarcity that reflects the difficulties female and minority entrepreneurs face as they fundraise. As more women become entrepreneurs and angel investors, there is a tremendous opportunity on both sides of the funding table.
This post was originally published on the Huffington Post.
Recently, there have been talks about how to address the lack of women in STEM, so when I heard about an opportunity to mentor young women about career choices, I jumped at the opportunity. My goal was to pique young women’s interest in STEM early on before they start in college. I also wanted to make a pitch for building a strong foundation in math and science and thus having the flexibility to switch fields.
First to note, The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria, in the New York Public School system is designed for girls who are interested in succeeding academically and getting a head start in leadership. The classrooms that I was assigned to speak are for 11th graders, the age where American high schoolers take the SAT test and start in earnest with the college application process.
As mentors, in front the students, we talk about what we do in our jobs, how we spend a typical day at work, and what career path and decisions that had led us here, and what college and college majors have prepared us. The mentors’ field range from healthcare to finance to fashion to journalism to technology. I was very particular about what I wanted to do, which is to make a compelling argument about the importance of building a strong foundation of science and technology, and to pique young women’s interest in pursuing career opportunities in STEM.
During moments of self-introduction and Q&A’s, I’ve given away some non-traditional advice, including how to actively manage interview process, college application process, and networking opportunities, and some advice on risk-taking.
Unbeknownst to myself, my eyes were about to be wide opened. The moment, Lorena, another mentor in the room asked the students that how many are a first generation in their family to attend a college, and many hands went up, I felt my heart skipped a beat. Lorena also was a first generation in her family to attend university. I realized that the students here are very different from those students with whom I attended high school. I was touched that they found the initiative in themselves to attend such an excellent school, to apply to colleges, and to explore career opportunities.
After speaking with students in classrooms, the women scattered into the gym into career booths, where students could actively come over to ask questions. I sat at the booth labelled Science & Technology. There were young women who came over to ask questions, knowing specifically what is that they wanted to do and have well-defined goals. That brought us smiles. It was very encouraging to see young women who knew what they wanted, and are serious and prepared to take steps to reach those goals. Yet, we also note, the Science & Tech booth is not always as filled as some of the other booth. The question is why? That is a complicate question and probably deserves another post.
After the session is over, I found emails from the students that I spoke who said what I said made them feel more confident about college and career decisions, especially seeing that I changed my career over and over. I’m so honored to speak and to pique their interest in STEM. And I am deeply inspired and humbled by their own ability to change their life.
Git is one of the most popular version control systems and is quickly gaining prominence. It is used on multiple cloud hosting services, including Amazon’s EC2 and Heroku, and has vibrant usage among top open source communities.
Which means that if you want to make use of Amazon or Heroku’s awesome server power or contribute your code to an open source project, you have to know how to participate by using git.
How Git works
Git is an open-source version control system (meaning, it’s free!) that allows developers to track changes made on their code files throughout the lifetime of a project. Git is designed such that it views your code files like a “tree” and allows you to do cool things like create a “branch” where you work on some of the files without affecting the “trunk” code base until you are sufficiently convinced that the changes you are making are good and won’t break the rest of the tree.
If you are alone working on a project git is a great way to track the changes you make and also safeguard yourself from making a silly mistake that breaks your web app or, worse yet, accidentally delete months of work.
Where Git really excels, however, is for projects where more than one developer is working on the code. The tree-like architecture we described above allows many developers (up to hundreds!) to work on a project at the same time without the code devolving into one big hairy mess.
Git was initially created by Linus Torvalds to be used on Linux kernel development with a large, distributed team of developers. Since the Linux kernel project is very large and the development was distributed among developers all over the world, Torvalds designed Git so that it would be fast and good at distributed version control. The beauty of Git is that it allows developers to easily merging changes into the master code base and encourages developers to be experimental, because Git allows you to make changes locally and not have to push to a centralized repository until you are ready.
How is Git different from other version control systems?
Git is a great version control tool because it’s lightweight and straightforward to use, and it provides incredible compression and speed.
Since Git is so popular, and the Git community is so robust, thanks in large part to the popularity of Github, learning Git is one of the best things you can do in your process of learning development.
Excited to start using Git? Look out for our newsletter on Wednesday that will help you gitup and running.
This article is first published on Skillcrush, an awesome platform to learn about technology.
About the author
We all know that women outperform men academically, but for whatever reasons our professional careers seem to be far less rewarding – both financially and personally. Well, work isn’t school, but it is the place where we spend the majority of our lives. So I ask what is that’s holding us women back from excelling? Part of it is an entrenched cultural and linguistic bias against women and part is because that same self-criticism that pushes us to excel in school is holding us back from being standing out professionally.
Over a long career, I believe that beyond a certain threshold of performance, it is creativity and smart risk-taking that separate the standouts from everyone else. Unfortunately, self-criticism inhibits creativity. Go ahead, react positively to fear. Whether it be picking up new skills, throwing away your fear of the unknown, or just betting on the right person or plan, here are a few tips to get your started.
1. Show up and put your best foot forward
Woody Allen once said that 80 percent of success is just showing up. Put yourself out there, because there is where serendipity happens. Show up even when you are not sure that you belong and open yourself up to the possibilities.
2. Speak up
In a room filled with few women, as in nearly all tech conferences, men always speak up more than women. Lately, there has been a petition to end conference panels filled with men, but I want to challenge you to speak up more! I know it’s scary to ask questions, sit on panels, present in front of an audience, and open yourself for judgement.
But only when you speak up and let yourself be heard, do you even have the possibility of influencing the stakeholders. If you are looking to build a team, or make a point at conferences, speaking up puts you on the map and will enable other to come to you with ideas. Do it! For yourself and for every other woman in that room (or not in that room).
3. Don’t apologizing when you are not in the wrong
Women tend to apologize even when they are right. Some people say that you should never apologize. If you are in the wrong, you should apologize, but never ever apologize when you are right. Apologizing and wavering can be the quickest way to lose your credibility. No wavering! You are awesome, own it.
4. Go stand in the limelight
Women when arriving to leadership roles face the sad choice of “being loved but passed over” or “being feared and disliked.” When you stand in the public eye, we are being judged, sometimes praised and sometimes vilified. But as all good leaders know that is a part of public life, so we have to roll with the punches.
Here I’d like to quote Teddy Roosevelt with some additions to correct for linguistic bias:
“It is not the critic who counts: not the woman/man who points out how the strong woman/man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the woman/man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends herself/himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if she/he fails, at least she/he fails while daring greatly, so that her/his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
5. Lastly, bet on yourself
Lastly and most importantly, if you could bet on anyone, bet on yourself. This is a personal decision that puts you on the path to take full responsibility for your actions. An important point about betting yourself is that it is also the first step of taking charge of your life and constantly making investments in yourself. We live in the age of information and the people who control the flow of information have an unfair advantage. So learning to code is up there on my list of most valuable skills to acquire. Right here at Skillcrush, there are great resources to get started and to acquire those skills and make yourself highly marketable and eventually indispensable.
Photo Credit: Skillcrush
Startup life is hard and draining. I know it, but that’s not enough to overlook when founders make bad decisions. As a someone who tries out new services and supports the ones that provide a real utility, when I start to use a service, it is disenchanting (heck, discouraging) when startups decide to suddenly cancel my account and move onto big clients. Let’s rewind for a bit: to get to a point where the startup can move past individual users to corporate clients, it has garnered the individual users’ social media power to help it to grow along the way. Yet, after signing a few corporate accounts, deciding to kick away their old faithfuls is a bit of an amateur move. I’m not saying that companies should not pivot business models or think about monetization. Those are real issues. But there is a clear line in the sand between keeping your current users who had used their social media power to get where you are and keeping them around on their accounts, and just shunning them for bigger fish.
I suggest that it is not only bad conscientious move, but, in the long run, a short-sighted business move. In startups, things can turn so quickly. How do you know your new (enterprise focused) model is going to scale and to what point will it plateau? Assuming that you do succeed in enterprise and remain independent, at the end of that road, do you go back to the consumer market to expand further? Why destroy amicable ties with your old faithful users when it is so often shown that good, conscientious businesses can outperform those without the same support and well-wishing from the community.
I think a song from J. Lo. says it all:
I’m still, I’m still Jenny from the block.
Use to have a little, now I have a lot.
No matter where I go, I know where I came from.
Try to keep your old faithfuls and hold them tight.