Y Combinator held its first ever Female Founders Conference Saturday afternoon at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. In opening..
Had a great time at this today. Apparently 1500+ actually applied to attend. Happy to have heard about this in time to apply and gotten a spot.
As an early stage founder, this was one of the best tech events I’ve been to, ever, for two main reasons:
- Caliber and relevance of speakers. Every person on stage was an impressive tech entrepreneur or tech leader, who happened to be female. Though I sometimes get tired of the female-only events and females-in-tech conversation, if you are going to put on an event focused on empowering women in technology, commit: just bring powerful women on the stage. There’s no need to pepper in the male VCs or male entrepreneurs, as that almost reinforces the issue you’re trying to combat with a females-in-tech conference, in the first place. Obviously, there is a higher volume of excellent male VCs and male entrepreneurs to learn from, regardless of your gender, but this is just not the place for it. And, perhaps most importantly, there were a lot of high quality, early stage female founders sharing their lessons learned along the way. Although it was incredible to hear from industry veterans, like Diane Greene, it was even more relevant to me to hear from people like Adora Cheung, Danielle Morill, and Jamie Wong (just to name a few) and there were more top-notch entrepreneurs at this stage than any other conference I’d been to.
- Accessibility to speakers and fostering a real networking opportunity. At other tech conferences I’ve been to, it seemed like the speakers would come off the stage, give a private hug to the conference organizer(s), and then run out the door before any of those icky conference attendees wanted to try and meet them (and I’d paid hundreds of dollars to be there, whereas YC’s Female Founders conference was free). Today, however, it seemed like every speaker actually stuck around and made sure to meet everyone who wanted to speak with them. I would’ve loved to meet every single one of the speakers and event organizers today, but I prioritized the handful that were most relevant to me and my business and was able to find them, have a quick conversation, and, unlike other conferences, the promise to have coffee with me seemed less of a flippant yeah-that’s-never-gonna-happen brush off and more of a yes-I-want-to-help. This might be because the audience was smaller in volume (a few hundred, rather than many many hundreds), the attendees were higher in quality (you had to be apply to get an invitation), and possibly because there was an inherent extension of the Y Combinator alumni spirit, even though many attendees were not alumnae.
The event was also the right length, from 2 to 6:30pm (no one wants to hear speakers on stage alllllll daaay looong), and Jessica Livingston and team did a great job making sure to close with some super high energy speakers.
I admit, I was skeptical about the event, especially given the events that led up to it, but I was really and totally impressed. Please do this again next year, YC!