On the first Friday of each month across 15 cities globally, Women 2.0 hosts Founder Friday events to connect women entrepreneurs.
By Angie Chang (Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Women 2.0)
The crowd of San Francisco startup entrepreneurs looked a little more diverse than usual last Friday night. This is because we had about 40 women from the Hillary Clinton initiative TechWomen join us at Founder Friday San Francisco!
TechWomen brings women in tech from the Middle East to the United States for the month-long exchange program. We met a brilliant set of women hailing from countries like Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, the Palestinian Territories, Tunisia, Yemen, Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Founder Friday San Francisco spotlighted two successful women entrepreneurs who have raised capital for their ventures and are in the growth stage of their businesses.
Meeting Heather Hiles, CEO and founder of Pathbrite
First, we met Heather Hiles, the Founder and CEO of Pathbrite. She talked about her diverse background and how she helped build SF Works, a program that trains women by working with employers to get them off welfare. Over 5,000 women have been assisted through this program.
Heather has always been helping people realize educational and employment dreams.
Now as founding CEO of a technology-enabled company, she can serve hundreds of thousands – instead of thosuands of people which she has done before.
Pathbrite makes digital portfolios – a concept similar to college e-portfolios. Heather states that longitudinal studies have showed that people with e-portfolios have better job placement rates, critical thinking skills, better writing proficiency skills, have better course passing rates, etc.
“I thought, why don’t we have our own e-portfolios? You used to NOT be able to take your content with you – so what we’ve done is make web 2.0 portfolios. We have these digital portfolios, free to individuals – I’m charging companies like Burberry, Pandora and GE to use them to find better candidates for jobs and reduce the costs of bad hires, and to make sure they are cutting edge to help people develop and grow within the company,” said Pathbrite CEO Heather Hiles about the company she founded in 2009.
After a company pivot, the digital portfolio product was launched in March and went to market in June 2012.
Pathbrite has 12 employees and just closed Series A with a strategic investor in the ACT, the college entrance exam and placement organization. Stanford University is an institutional-wide customer, rolling Pathbrite into iStanford.
“To do this in the long term – this is definitely a marathon – you have to find what it takes. I’m not saying every day you sleep well, but on the whole I hope you sleep most nights, and do whatever it takes. For me, it’s yoga – my private time for meditation, but we all have our different grounding experiences.”
Heather invites everyone to create their own portfolios to tell your own story and own your own story.
Email your free Pathbrite portfolio URL to email@example.com or tweet to her @heatherhiles – and she will pick a couple of the best portfolios and offer lunch and mentoring session. Heather is in New York a lot as well as San Francisco. She’d love to see your portfolios!
Meeting Andrea Johnson, CEO and co-founder of ThisLife
She presented some ideas to consider for your startup pitch:
- Lay out the problem and solution. Investors sit thru dozens of piches a week so start off with what the problem and what is the solution to that particular problem.
- Understand the competitive landscape. Here is how we compare and how we are different.
- Think about an analogy. Compare yourself to a similar company in another category – it’s like this for that.
- Know your numbers. What is the financial proposition to the consumer, and how does that roll up into the business model itself.
- Marketing. How to acquire initial customers, what does your brand look like, how is it expressed to your customers.
- Clean slides. Nobody should be reading your slides, they should be listening and watching you present! Make one point per slide.
- Have the slides ready to email at any time. Have the slides in a condition you feel comfortable emailing them to the investor right after the pitch.
- Do your homework on the investors. What else have they invested in? Are they interested and knowledgeable to our category?
The problem that ThisLife is tackling is a consumer problem – we are scattering our pictures and videos across phones, hard drives, online platforms. The ThisLife solution brings your photos and videos together in the cloud, letting you tag and search them. Women 2.0 members are invited to try ThisLife here – use this link to jump over the invite-only process and let you straight into ThisLife to try. Comments and feedback are welcome – email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We had a great time meeting everyone on Friday in San Francisco! See you at a future Founder Friday.
Photo credit: Anastasia Ashman on Twitter.
Angie Chang is Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Women 2.0, a media company offering content, community and conferences for aspiring and current women innovators in technology. Our mission is to increase the number of female founders of technology startups with inspiration, information and education through our platform. Previously, Angie held roles in product management and web UI design. Angie holds a B.A. in English and Social Welfare from UC Berkeley. Follow her on Twitter at @thisgirlangie.