Tag Archives: women in tech

Women in Entrepreneurship: Q&A with Julia Hartz, Cofounder, Eventbrite

11136191_10152959962671865_7959573286732933726_o

This year, BASES hosted its inaugural Women in Entrepreneurship Summit (WiE). The event took place on Saturday, April 4 at the Obendorf Event Center at the Graduate School of Business. Delivering the keynote speech was Julia Hartz, Cofounder and President of Eventbrite. During her keynote speech, Hartz shared her story on how she developed as an undergraduate to becoming one of Fortune’s Ten Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs in 2013. Along with describing her experiences, she gave young women entrepreneurs valuable advice on how to be successful in their own careers.

We had the pleasure of following-up with Hartz after the event to hear more about her experience at BASES’ inaugural WiE.

Q: What inspired you to partake in the BASES’ Women In Entrepreneurship Summit this past month, offering your own time as well as your own personal story to drive discussion regarding the current representation of women in the business world?
A: I believe that you can’t be it if you can’t see it.  So much of my inspiration comes from seeing women who are challenging themselves to be great entrepreneurs and live a full life.  I’m inspired to pay it forward in any way I can find to connect with other women who have big dreams.

Q: Many entrepreneurs share their stories widely through a variety of channels and mediums, often to very large audiences. How valuable did you consider the intimate format of the WIE summit, and how did you take advantage of such a personal interaction with entrepreneurial students.
A: I think the summit offers a very unique opportunity for entrepreneurs to meet with each other in a different forum than is commonly used. I like the accessibility this affords and the depth of targeted conversations.

Q: The Summit is designed to offer students a personal and unique opportunity to interact with female leaders in business and to walk away with greater knowledge and confidence of the business world. On your end, were you able to learn and/or notice anything from your interactions with the crowd during the Q&A portion? If so, we’d love to hear about it!
AAbsolutely! I was struck by how insightful the questions were, and I wish we had time for more.  The audience seemed incredibly engaged, which is truly rewarding as a guest.

Q: Lastly, coming away from your experience at the Summit, what is the one final message you would want to give to not only young female entrepreneurs, but also to young entrepreneurs as a whole?
A: Don’t let fear rule your decision to take the leap into entrepreneurship!

Thank you Julia Hartz. We had an incredible inaugural event and look forward to next year’s WiE.

For more opportunities to meet founders and Stanford alumni in technology, please attend our BASES Challenge Finale on Friday, May 8 at the Stanford Arrillaga Alumni Center beginning at 2 PM. For more details on BASES Challenge and Finale, visit our website here. To RSVP, go here. 

Women in Entrepreneurship Summit: Changing the 13% of Women-Led Startups

By Stephany Yong

I love startups.

Now before you let out a sigh and roll your eyes at just another Stanford student with startup fever, hear me out.

I remember the first time I set foot into StartX my freshman year. It was the third week of winter quarter, and I was set to meet Kyle, the founder of a startup called Pixlee, whom I had met at the BASES career fair the week before. Walking through the floor space to the room where the interview would be held, I took note of the interesting set up, with tables forming clusters of makeshift offices for the startups housed there.

It was unlike any office space I had ever seen – there were nerf gun bullets and swivel office chairs strewn across the floor, whiteboard paint walls with customer acquisition strategies half mapped out in marker. And another glaring thing – I was the only girl in the building that afternoon.

Over the next few months, I dove headfirst and worked there part time on marketing when I wasn’t in class. The experience transformed me and how I viewed myself and my work. I loved how I was making an impact, preparing sales decks, writing blog posts, and consulting with the CEO on my projects (of a 10-person company at the time but still pretty cool). Furthermore, I adopted a fascination with shipping and building things. At Pixlee, three engineers had built a service that delighted hundreds of thousands of people around the world. It inspired me to get more serious about my first computer science class, and ultimately, pursue a degree in computer science.

My first foray (if you can call it that) into entrepreneurship opened up an entirely new world to me. The environment was infectious, marked by cheeto-stained keyboards and standing desks, but more importantly, a scrappy and growth-driven mindset that made me want to improve, be sharper, and learn more about the space by asking good questions. When thrown into an unstructured setting, I was forced to find a way to add value to the team, and now it’s a skill I want to continue to improve over my career. But looking around me at StartX, I noticed how the Valley’s celebrated startup culture only featured a handful of women.

I thought back to all the remarkable women I had met at Stanford – amazing engineers, product gurus, designers, and marketers – I know that they would bring tremendous value to any startup, whether it be one they start or one they join. There are unique problems that can and should be tackled by the other half of the population, who are just as creative, strategic, and determined to solve the world’s consumer, enterprise, health, and energy problems as their male counterparts. And this is where I see the value in the BASES Women in Entrepreneurship Summit.

The summit is going to feature female founders who will lead intimate discussions with at most 15 participants about topics that they think are key discussion points: the things you should know as an entrepreneur, from splitting equity with co-founders to navigating the murky waters of defining your company’s culture and everything in between.

This naturally leads us to ask why we need a womens’ summit to begin with. And I think this statistic speaks for itself: Only 13 percent of VC deals went to women-led startups in 2013 (Pitchbook). I think this minority percentage stems less from an issue of competency or interest, but rather, starting a conversation around the unique challenges women entrepreneurs face. How do you pitch to a group of male investors and navigate any doubts they may have about the industry you are devising a solution for? How do you handle being a strong negotiator without coming across as overly aggressive? How do you build a network in a male-dominated venture capital scene? These are tough questions for anyone to address, let alone asking in front of 100 other people at one of Stanford’s several VC panel discussions and mixers throughout the year. We hope organizing groups of 15 entrepreneurial women in workshops led by female entrepreneurs will create an open and encouraging environment where women can freely ask questions, share their stories, and build meaningful relationships with one another.

I’m so glad that this spring we’re finally bringing together some of the most driven, entrepreneurial women across campus and the Valley to get to know each other and start a discussion about something that means so much to me.

We look forward to reading your applications, and can’t wait to see you in April!


Apply now at here at http://bit.ly/baseswomensummit

Brogramming and the women-in-tech question

Authored by: Stephany Yong – originally posted on April 23 2014 at The Stanford Daily

Why there aren’t more women in tech? The public enjoys asking this question, while the business and tech writers at Forbes love answering it with articles that often lead with the headline, “Ten Reasons Why Women…and similarly influenced op-eds about glass ceilings (with the obligatory Lean In).

I find the question about getting more women in technology an interesting and relevant one. Harvey Mudd’s President, Maria Klawe offered an explanation: “We’ve done lots of research on why young women don’t choose tech careers, and number one is they think it’s not interesting. Number two, they think they wouldn’t be good at it. Number three, they think they will be working with a number of people that they just wouldn’t feel comfortable or happy working alongside.”

Klawe’s findings are just one of many attempts to answer the women-in-tech question. Several articles cite surveys that find girls are avoiding tech careers—ostensibly because we’re shallow and afraid of the stereotype affiliations of being socially awkward, or we’re singularly focused on computers, or we’re physically unattractive. However, I find the female vanity explanation out of touch with the reality of what I’ve experienced as a female undergrad interested in pursuing a career in technology.

I want to explore the women in tech question by not mulling over the causes of the problem (i.e. that girls play with Barbies while guys play with Legos), but instead by discussing some of the things I’ve observed as a Stanford student about that very phenomenon.

Over the course of two years, I have been lucky enough to hear the stories of talented women working in many facets of tech as engineers, product managers, venture capitalists and even startup CEOs. Yet regardless of the pace or size of the talk, there is one question that someone in the crowd inevitably asks: “How’s the work-life balance, managing your priorities in your professional and personal life?” I cringe whenever I hear this. Before us is an exceptional leader who has accomplished incredible things in her career, and you’re going to shift the focus of her presentation by asking her how she’s able to “do it all”?

While I think the work-life question is a very valid one, and something I’ve definitely thought about, I cannot recall a time I have ever heard a moderator or audience member ask a man that. This question is indicative of the wary mindset women have about male-dominated industries, technology being first and foremost among them. With that in mind, I think we can avoid questions like this by celebrating women already in technology, since people naturally like to “see” themselves in a job before pursuing it.

Of course, we do have female role models such as Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg sitting in C-level suites in the Valley. However, public interest in these figures has focused on not only their professional achievements, but also their work-life balance that undeniably stems from the fact that they are women. But by emphasizing that they’re the exceptions, not the rule, this seemingly singular fascination that has turned them into icons has also inadvertently shrouded them (who I want to note are also older and farther along in their careers) in an air of unattainability.

In spite of the diversity on campus, it’s easy to decipher Stanford’s archetypical dorm room startup founder: a Caucasian (and on occasion, Asian) male engineer. With the rise of the “brogrammer,” who (usually) collaborates with male peers on projects and ventures, many VCs use what they call “pattern matching” to identify good founders; unsurprisingly, pattern matching tends to favor preexisting patterns (i.e. the male Stanford startup founder). Since venture funding is so critical to a company getting off the ground, this self-perpetuating problem of the “archetypal founder” creates a barrier to entry (that is both real and imagined) for women breaking into the Silicon Valley boys club.

The question I originally posed is easy to answer—after all, we can point to a myriad of studies, testimonials and editorials as to why people think girls are underrepresented in tech. Figuring what we should do to address the issue is a separate topic. Although there is no panacea for this problem, we engage in more meaningful, thorough discussions when we work with girls who are experiencing these issues firsthand, instead of a middle-aged magazine columnist who can only speculate.

Building off the work of organizations like Girls Who Code and she++ that encourage girls to pursue their interests in STEM fields, I think that the next proactive steps would be to celebrate female technologists working across the industry in different capacities, as opposed the Sandbergs of the world that grace the cover of Forbes. We can get more female leaders leading engineering sprints and signing term sheets by deemphasizing “brogrammer” culture, and creating an inclusive, merit-based ecosystem where women feel like they belong and have an equal stake in the Valley.

Stephany Yong is the Vice President of Branding at BASES. Contact her at syong@stanford.edu.