XX Combinator

Tereza, an AVC regular and active community member, wrote a blog post yesterday proposing that someone start XX Combinator, a Y Combinator style startup accelerator focused on women in their 40s.

Here’s the basic argument:

Y Combinator participants are for the most part very young — in their early 20’s. This is not when women would be most inclined. Women who start businesses like to know what they’re doing, and be trained and experienced in it. That takes up our 20’s. We have kids in our 30’s. Our entrepreneurial sweet spot is around age 40. Conventional tech investors are not really into this group and the metrics they look for are really hard for these people to hit. Most of the (few) women’s businesses that go big were funded by friends & family or strategics, not traditional angels and VCs.

She also points out that the Y Combinator program is purposefully focused on hackers and that is not a term often attributed to women. So Tereza proposes that XX Combinator come pre-populated with hackers, kind of like Betaworks is.

XX Combinator is a cute name and makes the point well. But I suspect a different model is required if this were to work. First, it is not so easy for 40 something women to move to silicon valley for three months. Second, if you have a team of hackers in-house, then you are an incubator more than an accelerator program.

But Tereza is right about a bunch of things. First, there aren’t enough women entrepreneurs. There aren’t enough women VCs. There aren’t enough women developers. The startup ecosystem is largely a man’s world and as a result, we see a lot of certain kinds of businesses and not enough of others. People are drawn to scratch an itch. If it is a 20 something developer, then they are scratching a certain kind of itch.

I know what Tereza is working on. I’m not sure if it is cool to talk about it here so I won’t. But it is the kind of idea a women in her 40s would be working on. And it is not an idea a 20 something man would likely work on all by himself.

Tereza is not alone in her evangelism. The Gotham Gal, who talks to and works with a lot of 40 something women entrepreneurs tells me that this group is “breaking out.” She told me about a conference in NYC this fall that she is involved in that is targeted at this group. And she told me last night that TED is working on a conference for women. Brad Feld wrote a great post yesterday about this topic. And he links to an excellent Eric Reis post that also articulates the need for more diversity (especially women) in the startup sector.

So maybe the time is right for an effort to build one or more efforts focused on helping women get started. These startup accelerators need a leader. Y Combinator has Paul Graham and his partner Jessica. Tech Stars has David Cohen and his partner Brad Feld. Seedcamp has Reshma and Saul. Betaworks was started by John Borthwick and Andy Weissman. So we need entrepreneurs to create these efforts, not committees, governments, or companies.

And we need entrepreneurs with a plan to deal with the realities that Tereza lays out. If there are entrepreneurs out there with the idea, the plan, and the passion to do this, please contact me. I’d be happy to help get something like this rolling.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    Great idea for an unmet need. Entrepreneurs don’t have all have to be geeks. How about even teaming up XX non-geek women with geek Y men. It strikes me that many 20’s can benefit from the 40’s whether men or women anyways.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      Call it a Cougar Combinator. It’s catchy, alliterative, and a little controversial. Maybe the soupçon of controversy could give it some viral traction.

      1. cyanbane

        I can’t wait to see the trailer for the movie about “Cougar Combinator” when it hits techcrunch.

        1. rachelsklar

          Those jokes will be a lot funnier when there are actually enough women with startups, VC money and industry support to make a movie about.

          1. fredwilson

            great avatar rachel

      2. alicetiara

        I know this comment was tongue-in-cheek, but this is exactly what we don’t need- constant sexualization of professional women. It’s already prevalent enough without furthering it. Nobody refers to early 20’s entrepreneurial men as “hunks” or “twinks” or “boytoys.”

        1. Tereza

          Dave’s been one of my biggest supporters on this blog, so I appreciate both your comments! (although I prefer the term “beefcake”. KIDDING!)But the right name is so important. I think this debate has taken off in large part because XX Combinator was catchy. Although now i”m not sure it’s about women. I’m thinking parents.Hell, my brain is swishing around so fast right now.Between pitching out comments and wrapping up some business and transitioning my kids to the sitter, I am running around packing for a girls weekend to celebrate my upcoming 40th birthday.They include: COO of a leading hedge fund, co-owner of a different hedge fund, a social media guru at the world’s largest tech co, a former-direct-marketer-turned-housewife, and a celebrity gossip reporter. And me.We will be discussing this topic all weekend long (in addition to searing detail about our children, our husbands, our bodies, makeup and clothes, and world peace).When the Summit is over and I report back on Monday I’ll let you know what we decided. 😉

          1. Jennifer McFadden

            Would love to be included in any discussions, Tereza. I helped start the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute–a student incubator–in 2007 and have been thinking about some of these issues for the past 6 months. As a late-30’s mother of two who is interested in tech entrepreneurship, it’s directly relevant. Shoot me an email at [email protected] if you want to talk.

          2. ShanaC

            do you mind if I email you later because it seems as if there is some general interest about how to do incubation type work for women of all ages. I’m willing to set up that meetup group.

          3. Jennifer McFadden

            No problem.

          4. Donna Brewington White

            Happy Birthday, Dear Tereza! Welcome to the hill. (It’s better on the other side than we let on — but we keep the illusion going so that people don’t all rush on over.)

        2. Peter Beddows

          Good for you Alicetiara; well said and sadly it needs to be firmly and clearly said whenever such comments are made: Even in our now supposedly more aware society, there are still too many males that seem to think it is funny to make sexist remarks: They know not of what that reveals about them.Aside from the fact repeated recently in various posts, that proportionately more women post 40 show greater entrepreneurial aspirations at levels comparatively similar to the aspirations of young college age males than is the case of such aspirations for equivalent young college age females, this situation is surely just as much a result of the disparate expectations our culture still has of a woman’s “role” in society relative to men (unbelievably there are still areas in our country and in on-the-air programs where the “subservient” or “trophy” wife is still regarded as the ‘preferred’ type of wife: obviously the men in such cases are truly scared little wimps but that is another issue) as it is due to any other reason.In this context, women still have a very hard time to make an impression and gain respect, support and viable partners for their ideas and thus it behooves us all to become keenly aware – and I’m not pursuing a line of political correctness here; we all suffer when we do not partner effectively with the 50% distaff side of life – that any casual remarks that contextually sexualize (professional) women not only is demeaning of women but also reveals that the speaker himself is very unsure of himself otherwise why else would he see a need to attack – for that is what he is doing – those that are not even in a position to cause him any real harm?I speak as Father of post 40 very accomplished, very intelligent Daughters; Husband of an extremely accomplished, entrepreneurial Wife whom I have observed quite often in business situations coping with male prejudice (in one case, the fella actually lost a $500K+ contract opportunity because of his attitude); as a Son of yet another very smart, accomplished woman and Grandson of two very successful entrepreneurial women: I speak as I have found and it is time we all made an effort to change our minds and embrace the opportunities that partnering with meritocratic women can bring to us all.Lastly, as Fred has mentioned above in his post: The post by Brad Feld that also reference a post by Eric Ries which also references work by Vivek Wadhwa et al, and also references the very informative SlideShare slide show created by Terri Oda and an article in Wednesdays Mercury News – all of which I have referenced in my own blog – all discuss in further detail various aspects of the “Dearth of Women In Technology”. It is up to us males to decide whether or not we want the very significant benefits that come from supporting and partnering with our distaff side or if we prefer to keep on disparaging a resource that could otherwise be enormously helpful to us all.Good for you alicetiara and thank you for making your statement.

          1. Tereza

            +1 Peter

        3. Dylan Salisbury

          > Nobody refers to early 20’s entrepreneurial men as “hunks” or “twinks” or “boytoys.”…except for those twins from Harvard who sued Mark Zuckerburg.

  2. RichardF

    I’m not a fan of positive discrimination of any form. I’m of the view that the best talent rises, regardless of of background, sex or colour and if you are positively discriminating for one group then you are negatively discriminating against someone else.However I do think it’s absolutely right that women are encouraged, supported and treated absolutely equally and without bias in the workplace. I know how hard my wife has had to work to make sure that her career stays on track and be a mother and the sacrifices that she has had to make along the way.It’s not just in the start up sector that this is an issue but in every sector.

    1. fredwilson

      don’t think of this as affirmative actionthink of it as enlightened self interested capitalismthere is a talent pool out there that can be tapped to start new kinds of companies that aren’t getting started now for reasons Tereza articulated

      1. Jennifer McFadden

        “enlightened, self-interested capitalism” I like that…

    2. Guest

      An interesting essay published this week by Princeton’s Russell K. Nieli on positive discrimination in action in university admissions.

    3. paramendra

      You sound defensive.

      1. RichardF


    4. CJ

      I do so love the irony when those in a majority group complain about being discriminated against by a group that the discriminated form to counter discrimination.

      1. RichardF

        I am not complaining nor being defensive. Just my opinion.

        1. CJ

          I’m not a fan of positive discrimination either, but I don’t consider XX Combinator to be that at all. It’s about taking a segment of entrepreneurs that are underserved and investing in them (time, money, mentorship), instead of letting them continue to be underserved in an environment where they have a better than average chance of not being noticed due to reasons other than merit. If we can snap our fingers and make it so they aren’t underserved anymore then let’s do that, if it’s not possible then we need alternatives.

      2. Donna Brewington White

        So, so true…ahh the arrogance of ignorance.

        1. CJ

          I think society as a whole thinks that discrimination isn’t an issue because if those people really were as good as they thought or say, then everyone would overlook the discriminating trait and it wouldn’t be an issue. And sure, that sometimes works…if you’re twice as good as the next qualified candidate who doesn’t happen to have your discriminating trait. But why do you need to be two times better to be treated equally? I’m sorry, I just don’t find discrimination fair or normal or acceptable at all and I won’t accept ‘work harder’ as the answer to it.

    5. Donna Brewington White

      I don’t see how it’s discrimination to create something that promotes increasing support and opportunities for people with a common interest and set of problems in the marketplace. Discrimination is exclusion and this is not exclusion but rather infusion.This does not involve taking away opportunities from others, but rather expanding access to opportunities which in the end creates new opportunities.For the record, in case it helps my credibility in making this argument — I am not a proponent of affirmative action as a general rule.

  3. ShanaC

    1) I can’t sleep. I’m not sure why.2)Tereza, You’re awesome.3) I’m not a 40 something year old woman. (may I be blessed with much happy wisdom when I get there). (I’m 24, and feeling younger while growing older every day.) It would be beyond my pleasure to help.Some things to think about. I’ve yet to really see quilting bee style coding groups/study groups.* There is a coworking space in the Valley whose whole premise is based around providing childcare to parents (this resolves the number 1 issue, because at least in the US, women’s paychecks are seen as the place where “childcare” comes out of, rather than the sum total of the family budget.)As much as phonecalls suck, how often should women be on a site (for the same reason)It’s isolating to learn to code. Especially when you are doing it by yourself, and it seems that a good chunk of standard practice is a lot of copy and pasting until you “figure it out” (I hate that) It gets even more isolating when the reason you are doing all of this is that you have itches to scratch (as you would say). And the reasoning behind it seems to come out of total left field for the vast majority of people around you, because of background and gendering (or some of it is). It explains some of why there is this delay- I see a lot of my friends wanting to get comfortable in their skins (and I see this in me too) before they feel really strong enough to go running around and trying the crazy stuff (if it is in their personalities). Someone I am semi-talking to right now, took a job at a specific bank, because they were ranked as having a good family policy, so that she could eventually transfer when her husband got an “ideal” job out of law school. (Which may or may not happen) Throwing that life away would be difficult indeed for her. It would be difficult for most women I know. Even committing to the idea that tomorrow they should build a new skillset…I’m 110% committed because there are ideas I want out there in this world. It’s highly probable I will have kids one day. I want those kids to know I made a difference.You’re daughters would be proud Tereza. So would yours Fred.*Interestingly, In New York we are developing a community of groups to learn to code suddenly, which are all about to have their first meetings. There is a C (yes C) group called Business people who code: http://bit.ly/cwcT5xGirl Develop It, a bootcamp for women in various aspects of web development (starting with html/css all the way to ruby): http://bit.ly/aWfMigAnd RubyNuby, a community of people who want to introduce people to Ruby and Rails even if they never touched code in their lives. : http://bit.ly/baCLVc

  4. ShanaC

    This is a test, I’m getting error messages.

    1. fredwilson

      Comment came through

      1. ShanaC

        did the first really long one go through? I’ve been having some verystrange issues recently (they know) but this is the first time I’ve had afull on failure. at 3:30 am (running recommendation for insomnia is to dosomething if you can’t sleep)

  5. Natalie Sisson

    I totally agree there’s a need. Organizations like Women 2.0 are doing a great job to get more women starting businesses but I would love to see more women investors and more options for a fund like this to be not only available in the Valley but around the world.

    1. fredwilson

      I don’t see this as a ‘fund’. I see it as an accelerator. All the startup accelerators I mentioned provide a small amount of funding (say 25k) but its the mentoring, coaching, connecting, and other assistance that is most valuable to entrepreneurs

      1. Natalie Sisson

        True. It’s the access to expert advice and guidance, especially at critical times that entrepreneurs find most useful. That said depending on your business model $25K is easily burned through, that’s why a decent fund should be available as part of the accelerator. One that we could have access to quarterly based on business results.There are plenty of women’s organizations that provide training and mentoring services too that I know are very valuable but to have the whole package including access to investors is what will ensure women starting their businesses take it seriously and to the next level.

        1. Jared McKiernan

          It seems like there are quite a few groups which invest or give grants to woman-owned businesses as more of a philanthropic endeavor than a true capital investment. While the intent is certainly laudable, I wonder if this type of organization actually hinders growth by making it easier to start a venture which requires continual funding from such sources than it should be, and instead of figuring out ways to turn the passions of these entrepreneurs into sustainable, profitable business models, many of these talented people are trying to tread water as long as possible with a venture that is a net long-term loser by design due to the prevalence of such charity sources.The whole concept of funding women-owned businesses as charity seems a bit patronizing; especially that it seems that truly focused investment in this sector would have a great competitive advantage if helps tap into and fully realize this massive pool of potential.

          1. Natalie Sisson

            Hi JaredThis is a fair point. I wasn’t suggesting that these types of organizations should supply a limitless amount of ongoing funding but that it should be based on results and performance. Having recently read Happiness by CEO of Zappos Tony Hseih I was blown away reading how often they continually had to reach out for more funding years down the track to ensure they could get to a state of profitability.They were lucky that Tony was willing to sell his apartment to keep on funding it when no-one else would. What I am implying is that investors in women owned companies invest on the merit of the idea and will continue to give advice and mentorship as well as the access to funds should they need it (like investors should do for any company) to ensure the business does realise its success.

          2. Dylan Salisbury

            Fred Wilson was in his late thirties, “completely broke” and recently moved his family out of NYC for financial reasons before hitting it big with the GeoCities sale. This is according to Mark Suster’s read of an NY Times interview, see:http://www.bothsidesoftheta

          3. Tereza

            The reason I highlighted Y Combinator specifically is that they are taking bets on concepts and people, and providing them small enough amounts of money that it doesn’t break the bank.That *could* be perceived as charity, but it’s not.They changed the game by establishing best practices to get productized quickly and cheaply and released to market, so the market can speak. And the value-add they provide with all their hands-on involvement from tech rock starts and top VCs — it’s clearly a very special place.I’m not a believer in charity for businesses. Charity is for not-for-profits and I agree with you Jared, risks being condescending to the women who may receive it. Incidentally, there’s not a whole lot out there anyway.After that produce’s released to market, if the market’s not interested, then it’s over. That’s business.

  6. kagilandam

    It is a great idea.20+ always thinks about what do they want and it would be reallygreat to seed 40+ and see what they really missed.There is a lot of untapped imaginations trapped into those 40+ minds who may not fit the current trend of coding/engineering butthere should be (should be again) lots of products that they missed are hidden insidethose mines.

  7. Aviah Laor

    oh… what an issue.Ycom is not a good example: Paul Graham said that “One of our goals with Y Combinator was to discover the lower bound on the age of startup founders” (http://www.paulgraham.com/notnot.html). It’s brilliant, it did show that startups are much more feasible to do – but also it strengthen the Hollywood like young & beautiful culture. Otherwise you have to be Al Pacino.40+ startups are really hard. Time and money pressure is – thus – 40 times harder with a family and a mortgage.Maybe you don’t have in-house hackers, but you have in-house kids 🙂 So incubating you do anyway.The pros are, as Tereza rightly said, the better understanding of the needs, demand and customers.The key is to find efficient ways to leverage this knowledge and communicate ideas and innovation into a programmable form.And we need an icon. A women Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. I would love to tell my girls: This website you are using, was made by woman. This is also a media issue.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      How about this: a woman has kids in her early 20s, and raises them to be demon hackers — sends them to computer camp every summer, etc. Then, by the time she’s in her 40s, she’s got her own in-house hackers. Instead of borrowing and spending to get the kids inflated college degrees, the kids stay home and program for mom’s start-up. Mom uses the money saved on their college educations to fund the start-up.”And we need an icon. A women Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. I would love to tell my girls: This website you are using, was made by women. This is also a media issue.”Tell them about Marisa Mayer. She may not have “made” Google’s website, but she “controls the look, feel and functionality” of it.

      1. ShanaC

        Kids may be resentful of that. And there are no guarantees with kids that they can/will program. Or that woman will have kids in early 20s (i’m not married, or even dating anyone…)

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Kids are going to be resentful of something anyway, so why not resent their mother making them master a practical skill?There are few guarantees of anything. But a woman who wants to take this path — let’s call it the MK Combinator (“MK” = “my kids”) — will endeavor to have kids in her early 20s. Perhaps to increase the odds that her kids will grow up to be demon programmers, she will choose a programmer to be their father. She may also consider marrying this father/programmer and keeping him around as an additional source of labor for her future start-up.________________________________

          1. fredwilson

            I’m reminded of the women sellers on etsy who get their partners to hack on etsy’s api to build them better seller tools

          2. zackmansfield

            The “moms who sell on Etsy” demo, while not a fit with the overall theme behind this post, certainly fit within the spirit of women as entrepreneurs. As a young father/husband it’s been amazing to see how many young mothers are active on Etsy selling various goods – fulfilling a couple needs along the way (making a little extra dough, having something fun to do while kids are napping, interaction with others, a place to showcase talents)I’d love to see more women in VC/tech – but just as we sometimes forget that the vast majority of US small businesses are not VC-backed (and vast majority of job creation is in start-ups not VC backed), it’s important to keep in mind that there are TONS of female “entrepreneurs” contributing greatly in aggregate through very micro-businesses.What a fantastic country we live in (and thanks to Etsy and others for creating platforms for distribution/connection)

          3. kagilandam

            Nice Idea…. but listen to my following story.And so that is what you will do when you want to start a school? Get married to 50-girls and start pre-KG from the third year and build it to a Harvard-business school in 25-years (you can ask all your 100+ kids to do the same and build a mini-UnitedStates in your backyard!!! :-).

          4. reece

            “kids are going to be resentful of something anyways.” haha. seems that way, huh?i was never allowed to have/play video games etc. as a kid it sucked (and i resented it), but i’m honestly pretty happy about it now.if my mother had forced me to be a programmer, i’d be thanking her everyday right now.

          5. Tereza

            Piano lessons, eating spinach, learning mandarin, coding….it’s all the same.As parents, there are things we know that our kids do not. While they need to explore and find their way, we have the prerogative and responsibility to decide and enforce the things we think are “right”.Obviously there is a fine line between this and Mama Rose. But that is a line that every parent navigates every day.

          6. COMRADITY

            Who knew one way to remove barriers for women entrepreneurs would be marrying a programmer and having children as a source of labor?Forget about those coding classes Shana – head to the bar!K-

        2. Dave Pinsen

          Kids are going to be resentful of something anyway, so why not resent their mother making them master a practical skill?There are few guarantees of anything. But a woman who wants to take this path — let’s call it the MK Combinator (“MK” = “my kids”) — will endeavor to have kids in her early 20s. Perhaps to increase the odds that her kids will grow up to be demon programmers, she will choose a programmer to be their father. She may also consider marrying this father/programmer and keeping him around as an additional source of labor for her future start-up.

          1. Aviah Laor

            Exactly. This is the new family farm.

          2. paramendra


          3. Aviah Laor

            The kids will be happy: they will be allowed to sit in front of the computer all the time 🙂

          4. ShanaC

            That is not a sign of happiness per say. Investing in your kids for who they are is a sign of happiness. What if your kid has a severe LD?

          5. Tereza

            It’s a 21st century family business!

          6. Tereza

            Dinnertime Combinator?

          7. Donna Brewington White

            Wanna go in on a startup? Geek Grooms, Inc. It’s an internet matchmaking service. Could be a good companion service to XX Combinator. No pun intended with the word “companion.”

          8. Donna Brewington White

            I’m getting a vision — an internet matchmaking service — Geek Grooms, Inc.

      2. Aviah Laor

        LOL. Brilliant.

      3. fredwilson

        That’s awesome. I’m reading a startup novel called grumby that is fun. But your story is even more fun. You should turn this into a novel

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Sure. Hook me up with Gretchen Rubin’s agent and we can run a treatment by her.________________________________

        2. Donna Brewington White

          So YOU are suggesting that someone write a book??? Hmmm….

          1. fredwilson

            a novel, a storynot a business book, yuk!

      4. Tereza

        Great comment Dave!I’m working on this with my little girls — hey, who knows if they’ll ultimately be into in but we set the path.But they’re 15+ years away so meanwhile want to make this work for mommy!

      5. Dylan Salisbury

        I know this is just a “fun” part of the thread, but I’m bothered by the implication that a woman in her 20’s has no chance of being technically strong herself.I think your story would be better if she works for a start-up at night to put herself through UC Berkeley during the day as an awkwardly older student. She builds a network of colleagues, co-workers, and professors impressed by her work ethic, and when she launches her company, she’s amazed by all the people who jump at the chance to work for her!I guess I’m lucky to have a job working with great women programmers every day. I obviously have a different perspective than most of the commenters!

        1. Dave Pinsen

          That the woman in question isn’t a programmer at the start of the story isn’t the “implication” but the starting premise of Fred’s post.________________________________

          1. Dylan Salisbury

            You’re right; I guess I was still trying to question that premise in Fred and Tereza’s original posts.

        2. Tereza

          I think much of the point is we need more people like you!

    2. fredwilson

      Well said


      In comment exchange I’ve had with @dshen here http://disq.us/haq0n he made this very seminal point:”entrepreneurs aren’t spending enough time developing something that is EXPONENTIALLY better, but only incrementally better. This also is a big problem. Many times entrepreneurs only think they are exponentially better when in fact to users they are only incrementally better. Entrepreneurs need to think more about how to do something exponentially better in crowded, highly competitive spaces. Yes it’s hard. In fact, it’s prohibitively hard – nobody said true entrepreneurism and building a world class new business in a marketplace with tons of competitors was easy.”In my opinion, this is the number one rationale to lower the barriers to older entrepreneurs. They have experienced competition in the marketplace and have the “a priori” knowledge (think Gladwell’s Outliers) of what the competitive gaps and opportunities are. Put those two assets together and you have someone who can stand up to a board and convince them to hold the course to offer something truly better instead of merely turning the dial.One barrier to older start up leaders is the money they need to survive. But I firmly believe “you get what you pay for”. Start with the assumption that cheap labor is the answer and you have to offer the product for free because it’s just not good enough to pay for.A better model is the one every Fortune 50 company I’ve worked with started with – offer a premium value. Then tell people about it. Each of these companies is a Fortune 50 company today because they raised the bar in their markets – not because they lowered the cost (that came later and was NOT a share or market building period).K–

      1. Tereza


      2. Aviah Laor

        Great points. This a-priori knowledge actually lowers the risk.

  8. ShanaC

    Didn’t post, after this, I’m going to bed (again):1) I can’t sleep. I’m not sure why.2)Tereza, You’re awesome.3) I’m not a 40 something year old woman. (may I be blessed with much happy wisdom when I get there). (I’m 24, and feeling younger while growing older every day.) It would be beyond my pleasure to help.Some things to think about. I’ve yet to really see quilting bee style coding groups/study groups.* There is a coworking space in the Valley whose whole premise is based around providing childcare to parents (this resolves the number 1 issue, because at least in the US, women’s paychecks are seen as the place where “childcare” comes out of, rather than the sum total of the family budget.)As much as phonecalls suck, how often should women be on a site (for the same reason)It’s isolating to learn to code. Especially when you are doing it by yourself, and it seems that a good chunk of standard practice is a lot of copy and pasting until you “figure it out” (I hate that) It gets even more isolating when the reason you are doing all of this is that you have itches to scratch (as you would say). And the reasoning behind it seems to come out of total left field for the vast majority of people around you, because of background and gendering (or some of it is). It explains some of why there is this delay- I see a lot of my friends wanting to get comfortable in their skins (and I see this in me too) before they feel really strong enough to go running around and trying the crazy stuff (if it is in their personalities). Someone I am semi-talking to right now, took a job at a specific bank, because they were ranked as having a good family policy, so that she could eventually transfer when her husband got an “ideal” job out of law school. (Which may or may not happen) Throwing that life away would be difficult indeed for her. It would be difficult for most women I know. Even committing to the idea that tomorrow they should build a new skillset…I’m 110% committed because there are ideas I want out there in this world. It’s highly probable I will have kids one day. I want those kids to know I made a difference.You’re daughters would be proud Tereza. So would yours Fred.*Interestingly, In New York we are developing a community of groups to learn to code suddenly, which are all about to have their first meetings. There is a C (yes C) group called Business people who code: http://bit.ly/cwcT5xGirl Develop It, a bootcamp for women in various aspects of web development (starting with html/css all the way to ruby): http://bit.ly/aWfMigAnd RubyNuby, a community of people who want to introduce people to Ruby and Rails even if they never touched code in their lives. : http://bit.ly/baCLVc

    1. Aviah Laor

      I think it’s enough to understand how code, DB and networks work, and what it takes to make a software from an idea (besides cutting 90% of the planned features and triple the schedule)

      1. Cindy Gallop

        And to the cheap labor point – when you have a visionary and inspirational idea for a startup that gets people excited, you’d be amazed how many people are willing to work cheaply or for free in any circumstances that you and they can negotiate, to make it happen.As someone once said (can’t remember exact quote), ‘If you want to find people to build a ship, don’t get them to hammer planks together, infuse them with a love of the open sea.’I’m delighted, incidentally, that my (very small, nascent) startup team on http://www.ifwerantheworld.com is 5 women 2 men. My user experience lead, designer and programmer are all female – and working with me for less than they would get anywhere else because they believe passionately in what we are launching.

        1. paramendra

          “5 women 2 men. My user experience lead, designer and programmer are all female…”I like the sound of it.

    2. fredwilson

      I’d like to learn more about these learning to code groups. That is very promising

      1. reece

        they’re mostly through meetup. Ruby-Nuby, Business People Who Code.literally just forming in the last month. haven’t been yet (summer is an awful time to start a meetup imo), but i like the idea.

        1. ShanaC

          It was kind of interesting. I was about halfway through my Ruby book (learn to program, chris pine) and I was getting super lonely, and I didn’t have anyone to talk to. Bo Bell (who is a very nice guy)had told me once that he had gradauted with a totally random degree, and that it was not from one of the very famous big name schools in the area. he taught himself to code, and worked from there. I emailed him saying that i was lonely and if he knew of anyone else who was lonely, I was willing to put together some sort of group of people who were studying to code en mass because learning to code by yourself is really frustrating (not because of the machoness, because it is hard to understand some of your mistakes by yourself, and because there aren’t some other people in the same place as you, it seems when you join a language community, everyone seems to know a language laready and is just picking up another one…)I think I wanted a group devoted to introductory toy programs so that everyone could practice and learn all sorts of basic skills no matter what.2.5 weeks later, it worked out that a guy named Malcolm decided to organize RubyNuby. I messaged him and said I was willing to help with whatever needed.I think another week later, because of random discussions on the NextNy list and private emails back and forth about buisness people, someone is doing a C group for Business People.And I think the Women group has been secretly hatching itself for months in the (non-existent) basements of New Work City.RubyNuby I know is looking for a 4 hour volunteer commitment for those who join. (this is fair) It doesn’t have to be a code commitment. it could be maintaining the website, registering people when they check into events, offering study group spaces, baking cookies (they are having a standing room only meeting tuesday to figure out logistics).I was so happy, really. To give you an idea of the impact: I think one of the people showing up to the RubyNuby community has absolutely no interesting in “high tech” “innovation” land. He just wants to learn to code. someone I know in City who is getting his feet wet in engineering and they aren’t covering group the way he wants/needs. So yeah, these types of programs will be impactful because people will learn in ways that are unexpected.I expect over time all of these programs will need regular, really large conference spaces with bandwidth. Just saying, if you know, pass it on.

      2. myasmine

        Could you turn that into a blog post please? Thanks!

    3. Tereza

      Hey Shana — I’m so glad that you brought up childcare because you’re right, it’s a HUGE obstacle.So a coworking space like charlie’s dream loft with a playroom and playground and the caregiver.Or a childcare credit or subsidy. Not sure.But I will say that when I add up all my childcare costs including payroll tax, insurance, etc, it’s about $50k a year coming out of my savings.That’s more than I’ve spent on my product!

      1. BillSeitz

        I think it would be great to have onsite childcare, if you can find a lawyer than can protect you from liability without creating all the costs of a commercial childcare organization.

        1. Tereza

          Agree, Bill. Childcare is never simple, and almost never cheap. Maybe a co-op for some women that want a lifestyle business giving childcare.But that issue needs to be picked through and some solutions created because it takes a lot of women out of the game.

          1. chislett

            Felicity Chapman at Mountain View based http://www.cubesandcrayons.com solves some of these issues. Seems like someone should roll their own here in NYC!

          2. fredwilson

            great contribution Peter. sees like we need one of those in NYC

          3. Tereza


        2. Amber Shah

          There are actually businesses that do this, in terms of providing a childcare worker and the company is insured.

      2. PhilipSugar

        “Or a childcare credit or subsidy. Not sure.But I will say that when I add up all my childcare costs including payroll tax, insurance, etc, it’s about $50k a year coming out of my savings.”Not sure why that is a woman issue that is a family issue and I certainly don’t want somebody to have to pay subsidize my kids.The one thing that has dramatically changed is the ability to work at home. It used to be if you weren’t at the office you weren’t on the grid. Now you are on the grid wherever you are.

        1. Tereza

          Well it is indeed a family issue. Although, for sure, the job of running quarterback on childcare more often than not falls on the mother.It’s a woman issue in that I, like many others, cannot cover childcare with my husband’s salary. So I must earn enough to cover that nut or dip into savings.If I do not, then I have to give up my venture and get a job. Or watch the kids full-time.

          1. PhilipSugar

            I would still reverse that and say many men who are starting a new venture in their 40’s have to make enough to cover childcare or their primary breadwinner their wife can’t work.Now I would agree that one of the big differences are that most of the quarterbacking role at home falls on the mother and that is an issue. Travel is especially difficult.Brad Feld wrote about a conversation we had about work/life balance. I drop off and pick up my kids every day. That means I spend a whole lot less time in the office than I did 20 years ago.The upshot is that I have “office hours” at home from 8-10 where anybody can email me about anything.

          2. Tereza

            Great point. I’ve been meeting more and more dads — my age, entrepreneurs — and their wives have the steady job while they are trying to create the dream. Between pickups and dropoffs, and from 9pm to 2am.They are quarterbacking on childcare and couldn’t do Y Combo either.Incidentally, I find because they are married and surrounded by estrogen much of the day, they “get” me and my business (which has a strong female spin — and has been a slight issue too).I absolutely consider them peers, believe they have the same needs I do, and would welcome them in the ‘program’, whatever that is.

          3. Berislav Lopac

            Those are the lucky ones. I had to go for divorce in order to be able to focus on the startups.

          4. Tereza

            It’s very hard to “balance” marriage and startups. You’re always leaning in one direction or the other.

          5. Jennifer McFadden

            I’ll second that.

        2. Tereza

          Totally agree. Although I wish my kids would stop interrupting my when I’m on conference calls. Grrrrrr……

      3. ShanaC

        For the record: It’s not a male or female thing. A single male with a child to take care of will be hit with the same penalty. We choose to label it as a women thing (semi-bizarre if you ask me). However, if you look at countries where this is a non-issue (Scandinavia) all sorts of funny stuff happens around STEM. It will be easier for guys to innovate too if they know can build a family.

      4. paramendra

        Important point.

      5. Donna Brewington White

        …but if you think about it, your children are a product too…and as you’ve already demonstrated, the product you’ve most invested in…beyond the $50K that is.

    4. maverickny

      Love those learning to code groups, I’m going to check them out!

    5. Jennifer McFadden

      Thanks Shana! I just checked out the Meetups. It’s a testament to the need to see that you launched 2 weeks ago and are already over-subscribed. It would be great to see something like this done virtually, too, w/people being given the tools to follow along with the LiveStream. I was using http://academicearth.org/co… to begin learning. But it would be far more compelling to have a LiveStream with additional LiveBlogging. As you said, it’s pretty isolating to be plugging away alone.

      1. ShanaC

        I didn’t launch, I was trying to find people to launch with, and under my nose people launched. I’m not well established here enough to launch. I need a job (even something part time) that pays enough so I can move out to somewhere like brooklyn to pull off tricks like that. Commuting to and from LI is not going to help you. It will get you slowly embedded and get you to know what is going on in a variety of fields though.

    6. Sara Chipps

      Shana – Thanks for mentioning Girl Develop IT. We’re super excited to see that people like this idea as much as we do. As a female that’s been in the field of development 7 years or so, I have spent a lot of time watching, learning, and thinking about what is holding ladies back. I have come to the conclusion that, as with most things some humans excel at more than others, it’s got a lot to do with confidence and perception. Good developers love what they do. There are a few 9-5’ers that could take it or leave it, however, people in this field generally are extremely passionate about it. There is a lot of spirited debate about languages, frameworks, and style no matter where you go in this community. As a 21 year old girl, I looked into an arena of a lot of men yelling at each other (while accomplishing great things) and the idea of joining and contributing was beyond terrifying. It was only through diving in head first that I was able to learn two excellent points of wisdom: they know just as much as you do and sometimes they are wrong too. The mission of Girl Develop IT is two fold: 1. To give female entrepreneurs the resources to, either, create applications themselves or enough technical knowledge to manage developers effectively. 2. To empower women who are interested in pursuing development as a career the confidence that they too can be a participant and contributer in this community of brilliant people. Our classes start next week and the response has been awesome. We really hope to take this far.Sara C

      1. ShanaC

        Right now I am doing RubyNuby, and I am ok at HTML/CSS to get where I need to go. When does the next round of classes for Javascript begin? (And I am proud of you too, for god sakes, I just wanted people to shut up and learn something.)I’m 24, so hey, plenty of time to learn

      2. paramendra

        Fabulous comment. Talking from the trenches.

      3. Priyahaji

        Can you send me information on the classes? I live in SF and I am a serial social entrepreneur and a woman. My last venture was backed by traditional VC and exited to a fortune 100 company. I am working on a new venture now for mobile. I want to get a stronger grasp on the technical side as I have all the other characteristics of founder. Priya at worldofgood dot com. Thanks

        1. Sara Chipps

          Priya, I will keep you posted, We are putting together info to help folks start classes on their own.Sara

      4. Tereza

        Sounds like an awesome program, Sara!

      5. Lynn Pulino

        Sara, Girl Develop It sounds like an amazing program. Do you (or anyone else reading this) know of this type of program in the SF Bay Area?

  9. Berislav Lopac

    It’s interesting how people always believe that some particular demographic they belong to is somehow underrepresented/discouraged in the field they’re in. Myself included. 🙂

    1. Tereza

      Probably true.Or to out another spin on it, we are each acutely knowledgeable about our own “pain points”.Thing is, ideas come out of pain points.So then the question is, how much of someone’s pain and solution is applicable to other groups?

  10. IanWilson

    I think perhaps looking at men / women, over 40 / early 20’s misses the point somewhat, I am convinced now that the key element is cheap labour. If you can build a business with no money then you are set. Young men, sleeping on friends couches or at their mothers, eating ramen who can also code like demons building “features” on top of web services are about the cheapest way you could possibly get a product into the hands of customers. This is why investors love them.For women (or men) over 40, add on a whole bunch of other responsibilities (responsibilities that young men just dont have) like children, schools, house payments, standard of living expectations and you need $thousand’s per month just to stand still. It just comes down to capital, how much you need to get you to cash flow positive or investable, I don’t think it is an age or gender issue per se.

    1. Amber Shah

      A smart investor should love the person who’s going to bring the company to be huge. Cheap labor is a factor but not the biggest one by far. There are plenty of young men willing to code up features all day and all night but that does not a CEO or CTO make. Women statistically have a better track record of building more successful companies. I don’t think that trend will continue as strongly once it becomes easier for women to enter the startup scene, but the point is that there is a huge subset of the population that is extremely capable (more so than the young, cheap labor boys) that right now is being ignored. I’m sure there are investors short sighted enough to think that cheap labor is where it’s at, but that’s not someone I’m interested in doing business with anyways.

  11. kidmercury

    boo. thumbs down. how is this not sexism? all these groups that discriminate on the base of race or sex are not cool at all in my opinion. and i’m not just saying that because a women’s fund/accelerator doesn’t apply to me — if there was a fund that invested in just indian people, i would find that racist and disappointing as well. all these allegedly discriminated against minority groups need to stop whining and start using the fact that they are an allegedly underrepresented group to their advantage instead of whining about it and asking for special favors. there are a bunch of insights/advantages i’ve gained from having immigrant parents, just as i’m sure there are many insights/advantages one gets from being a woman, a mom, or whatever one is. i find this to be especially true in urban locations in contemporary united states, which i don’t find to be that discriminatory; sure, racism and sexism exists, but this is not exactly the way it was in the 19th century or even the 1960s. i agree stuff is different in many other parts of the united states and non-urban locations throughout the world, but if you’re in one of those parts, you simply need to move to a more open-minded place, the way i did.also, the average age for an entrepreneur is 39. silicon valley/tech entrepreneurs as well. yes, we all are familiar with the wunderkid model — i.e. steve jobs, marc andreessen — but that is the exception to the rule, not what is typical. this fact was highlighted by vivek wadhwa in his recent beef with mark suster (which i encourage folks to watch because suster gets visibly angry during the beef and has gone on to diss wadhwa on twitter afterwards….hahahhaa)you know who i feel sorry for? rich old white men. preferably from oil families. let’s start a fund/accelerator for them.

    1. fredwilson

      You are missing the point kid. This isn’t about affirmative action. This is about opportunistic capatilism. See my previous comment on that

      1. kidmercury

        i understand the idea of focusing on people in their 40s as such people are typically in a different position — family, experience, wisdom that comes with age, a richer personal network to leverage. they have different personal needs and different assets than some kids in their 20s adn thus different value added networks to cater to them to build their business seems feasible. but i don’t see how being a woman plays into this. should we have one for men too? how about indians? maybe people named fred?perhaps parent combinator would be more of a contribution to society and would be less offensive as well. i simply don’t see how a father in his early 40s with his own family is any different and thus should be excluded. if i am wrong, i hope someone will try to embarrass me and put me in my place.

        1. Tereza

          I would totally support a Parent Combinator instead of or in addition to an XX one.My COO/tech partner is a family guy too and we totally get each other and it makes all the difference to me. He’s married, he has daughters, we work on the same clock (early am and early evening with family and then we work very late into the night).The best part is that a couple times when I got a weird someone mysogynistic response from someone (which is very rare) — his response is, “F*ck them! That’s not the kind of person we will work with!”That support is priceless and it can come from any gender. But the trick is finding it!

          1. Donna Brewington White

            Just promise me that if it does become parent-combinator that you will still CALL it XX Combinator!

          2. Tereza

            I’m still liking the “Kids In Bed” Combinator!

          3. Donna Brewington White

            Liking that one too!

        2. ginsu

          The question in my mind is, What’s the “first filter” for participation in this [YourNameHere] Combinator? The first filter for Y Combinator isn’t “young, male, would look good on the cover of Wired” – instead it’s something like “seeking to make an ambitious, scalable consumer software company.” Y Combinator might have a second-filter problem, but its first filter is the one that many people in the web startup world want.When the first filter (whether by formal rule or simply perception) is “40+ female” or “parent,” the program gets diluted in a manner that would be unpalatable to both entrepreneurs and investors wanting to make Y Combinator-like outcomes. As Fred says, there’s an underserved capitalist opportunity here, but his view implicitly keeps a certain (venture) capitalist objective as the first filter, with “female” or “parent” as a differentiating second filter.So a problem like this often arises: When you try to run a program that has some target demographic as the prominent second filter, people in that demographic get upset when they don’t meet the requirements of the first filter. And then the program starts to get a bad reputation in the very community that you are targeting with your second filter. I’ve seen this problem play out many times, and I don’t know what the solution is. Just thought I’d point it out.

      2. Donna Brewington White

        …and “opportunistic capitalism” seems to have the tendency to beget opportunity. Keep it coming!

    2. paramendra

      Have you heard of TiE?

    3. CJ

      Discrimination sucks, but there are only three things you can do about it; endure it, resolve it, or work around it. This is a work around, Tereza and others have been enduring it, no one has yet resolved it. I think your point stands but only when resolving discrimination is a realistic option. Until the, I’ll fully support any clever workarounds such as this.

      1. kidmercury

        this is countering discrimination with discrimination. And I have no sypathy for most “victims” of discrimination. I think people are better off if they stop whining and start working harder. I’ve been discriminated against a lot in my life, I’m almost grateful for it because its given me lots of strength I likely would not have otherwise. That’s why I support a fund for rich white old men from oil families, they have not experienced the type of discrimination I have and so they need help so that they can reach their full potential. Its only fair.

        1. Donna Brewington White

          In all seriousness I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything. But, here I am trying to deny my children some of those same experiences — raising them in an affluent, color-blind Malibu world…in private schools, no less. Oh, well…

        2. CJ

          Kid – It’s about adapting to the realities of the world. I’ve been discriminated in my life as much as you, I’m sure, if not more. It isn’t fair that I had to work twice as hard to be considered just as good, I don’t care how much character and strength I developed due to the experience. So no, I won’t condone discrimination by criticizing the ‘victims’ who attempt to hack it, especially those who aren’t complaining but instead just looking for their way to make it in a society that often overlooks the value they have to contribute.

          1. COMRADITY

            Malcolm, I hear you.But with today’s stalled economy, I suspect everyone feels they are working twice as hard and getting nowhere. The good news is that those of us who have to overcome challenges in the good times are better prepared than others who haven’t faced the hurdles we have.I agree with Georges van Hoegaerden here: http://www.bothsidesoftheta… that our economy is stalled because innovation investment “has proven not to produce social economic value that the public trusts”.Perhaps this a rationale for shining a spotlight on those whose ideas have not been tapped because they aren’t “PLUs” (People Like Us). We have one advantage – we have had to rise above challenges all our lives. And that’s a good trait for an entrepreneur to succeed.K–

          2. CJ

            K – Totally agree here.

          3. Donna Brewington White

            Very well said.

    4. Donna Brewington White

      Kid — Hopefully, by now you know I love you, but have to interject here.Do you have evidence that rich, old, white men — preferably from oil companies — have been excluded from opportunities?Discrimination involves exclusion.I see Tereza’s idea as supporting infusion of women INTO the entrepreneurial arena not exclusion of men (or even age groups other than 40+) FROM that arena. I know that opportunity can be treated in economic terms, such as “opportunity cost” — but as a general rule, I don’t think that opportunity is in limited supply — but rather “access” to opportunity. Opportunity can be created from thin air. Discrimination is a denial of and even removal of opportunity. Tereza’s idea creates opportunity and channels it in a way that makes it accessible — but does not take it away from all the other places where it currently exists for — let’s say — 20-something males. Much, much different than affirmative action.(I know that we can refer to venture funds as being in limited supply and therefore promoting more women in startups possibly excluding 20-something males from those funds — but really, I think that venture funds chase opportunity and as more opportunity for investment is created, more funds will appear.)I remember speaking to a group of young black South Africans shortly after apartheid ended and sharing the commonality of our experiences even though I grew up in (presumably) post-segregation America. The reality is that I have had to work twice as hard to accomplish half as much! And rather than EVER feeling sorry for myself, I am continually grateful for the opportunities that have come my way. Fortunately, I have rarely known I was experiencing discrimination while experiencing it and only knew in retrospect — somewhat disbelievingly. (But, intuitively I did know that I had to get the heck out of the small-town-Midwest as soon as I could escape when I was still young and impressionable — but we are talking quite some time ago.)Anyway, I think I can confidently say that I know what discrimination looks like. XX Combinator is not discrimination. And having worked in my early days in HR during the thick of Affirmative Action — it is not Affirmative Action either — which by the way I do not really support — even though I understand the atrocities it has tried to remedy.Anyway, you young guys (of any race) can make these bold statements about discrimination, but I am in a position to pull rank.

      1. kidmercury

        Bottom line, if you have XY chromosomes, you are excluded from XX combinator. Resources that go to XX combinator are thus outside of the realm of men, for no reason other than lack of qualifying chromosomes. That’s discrimination, and exclusion. Note that ycombinator does NOT discriminate on such grounds — women can apply. I don’t see where the overt sexism exists. Sure, it exists covertly, but things like XX combinator will not stop that — in fact I expect it will make it worse.Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

        1. CJ

          “I don’t see where the overt sexism exists. Sure, it exists covertly,” – if this is the case then resources that go to Y Combinator are indeed outside the realm of women and the entire point of XX Combinator. And while it might not change Y Combinator, it doesn’t have to if XX Combinator becomes just as successful. If they wanted to change Y Combinator, they would be ‘whining’ about it more instead of working around it more, as they are doing.But I ask you, what is their alternative? Work harder in a system where covert sexism exists only to be denied still, no matter how good they are or how much better they are than others who happen to be male and young? Or ditch that system altogether, create their own and work it from that angle? The latter, to me, is more in keeping with the entrepreneurial spirit, than the former, which may be admirable, but not entirely smart if an alternative exists or is possible to create.

          1. Berislav Lopac

            What nonsense. “Covert sexism” is an idiotic term. Sexism, or any other -ism, when not institutionalized (formally as explicit laws/rules, or informally as a set of customs and practices), amounts to nothing more than a personal opinion. And I believe that even in this age of political correctness everyone still has the right to their own personal opinions.Am I sexist because I like dating women and not men? Am I a racist if I find black girls more attractive than Asian ones? Am I ageist because I like 20-somethings more than older women?And I will never understand how would an incubator that accepts only female founders be anti-sexist, as opposed to one (like Y Combinator) that accepts anyone, of any gender, with a good project?

          2. CJ

            Yeah…and down the road to institutionalized discrimination we go. You are entitled to your own opinion in your personal life but there are laws against taking those opinions into the workplace, explicitly or otherwise. To hire based on anything other than merit (I include personality and nepotism in merit) is discrimination.I’m amazed by how many people would attack XX Combinator instead of seeing the obvious solution to the problem…Y Combinator should just attempt to be a little more gender diverse. But then if I suggest that, everyone has dreams of Affirmative Action in the VC/Startup world…that would be bad. So then what? A woman’s place is in the kitchen and not the startup?This is an elegant solution, it doesn’t affect anyone but women, but I’ll tell you the real problem, you ready? People hate the feeling of being discriminated against. They want access to everything, they feel it’s a right, yet they see no problem doing the discriminating.So no, we can’t have a women only Startup club because that discriminates against us men. Besides, they can just join the existing club, if they’re good enough we’ll let them in. Oh, we don’t have a good track record doing that? That’s because there aren’t many good enough women out there, duh! That’s also why they don’t need their own. Give US those resources too. Now THAT’S nonsense.

          3. Berislav Lopac

            Oh come on, don’t put words in my mouth that I never said (wrote)! This proves that you really have no point.So my point, to make it loud and clear to avoid any misunderstandings, is: a) Institutional discrimination is negative, and should be avoided whenever possible. b) Individual discrimination is always present, and can’t be avoided whatever we do. c) Whatever is the case, fighting discrimination with a different discrimination is just as bad, if not worse.EOD

          4. CJ

            *sigh* I didn’t put any words in your mouth, I simply restated that which you implied and you then further stated again in point b): Individual discrimination is always present, and can’t be avoided whatever we do. If we allow everyone to practice individual discrimination in the work place what we end up with is covert, institutionalized discrimination as eventually those who agree on who they dislike band together and practice that discrimination on an institutional level.You seem to think that everyone can have their personal prejudices and exercise them without it amounting to discrimination. I say that it’s the very definition of discrimination because you can’t have discrimination without individuals (one or more) who agree to discriminate against another.And no, I don’t think fighting discrimination with groups that cater to the demographics that are being discriminated against is just as bad or worse. What’s worse is that no one wants to acknowledge that simply ending discrimination would be just as effective, instead we’re arguing about why this idea is worse than the initial discrimination. An appropriate quote for this site I think: “Necessity is the mother of invention”

          5. Donna Brewington White

            Was going to respond to Kid, but you’ve already said it so well! Thanks.

  12. giffc

    I’m not sure how much this solves, even if I am very in favor of more women in tech, and root for Tereza. I know quite a few non-coder female founders and they are a force to be reckoned with. I think it would be great to see more coaching by other, real entrepreneurs, but that is a good thing across gender. It is also incumbent on the entrepreneur to get out there, network, and find good mentors regardless of gender.Speaking as a late-30s, bad-coder, with-kids founder person, what you need is a technical co-founder and partner who will be with you as you evolve and iterate and improve. Having a bunch of programmers at your disposal for a short period of time doesn’t solve this, but I admit I am very biased against “outsourcing” in early stage tech. I find it unlikely that this tech co-founder will look like the Y-combinator young hacker too – who wants to work with people their own age and on ideas they personally understand (to generalize).I think there might be an over-glamorization of the young hacker. There is huge value in domain knowledge, UX/UI design skills, sales/marketing skills, and general startup experience. However, for an early stage startup, if are a non-coder founder, you had better have ALL of those skills; if not, you are probably better off learning to code either on the front end or back end.

    1. fredwilson

      Good feedback giff

    2. Justin Shaffer


      1. Tereza

        What an awesome conversation as it reveals so many layers and critical ideas.I hav a bunch of awesome advisors and they are mostly men and I am very happy with that. They are supportive and that’s all I care about. Male or female doesn’t matter there. But relevance to my business, and the fact they care about me and want me to succeed. Females that are not relevant to my business wouldn’t do much for me.Better matching with co-founders would be a boon.I was able to find an awesome one and it’s made all the difference for me.

    3. kidmercury


    4. shagarieNYC

      First let me say thanks to Tereza for a thought provoking post and Fred for bringing it to this forum. Giff, I think the obsession with the young coder is more because they are less calculated and willing to try new things that sometimes pays off in big ways, the status quo often goes out the window which in an of itself has its pros and cons. I think Fred in an earlier post spoke to why he found it rewarding working with young founders for just this reason (among others).With an older skillset there are additional overheads that need to be taken into account which sometimes can put a strain on efforts… while a younger coder is ok with working long hours and surviving on pizza/noodles, an older (possibly more skilled and structured coder) has to concern him/herself with balancing work time and family time and has a shorter time horizon to get securities such as health insurance back under him/her.That said, I think a blend of adult wisdom and young energy can accomplish wonders… and that is just the structure needed to pull of a xx combinator

    5. ShanaC

      Thank you.

    6. Tereza

      I agree Giff.Both the glamorization of the young hacker and also criticality of the co-founder. And than helping match them may be the keys to the kingdom.When I decided to do my startup (which in itself was a long decision to make — it just seemed so incompatible with my lifestage and everyone I saw at all these events) — I apportioned some savings, interviewed developers and decided to see how far I could go.One day I decided I’d gone as far as I could without a tech co-founder, so made some calls. The overwhelming message I got was, “it’s like finding a needle in a haystack because none would want to work with someone like you”. Yikes!But in fact I found the perfect person in 48 hours. Seriously perfect…for me. And turned out he was looking for me for 6 months.One observation is that while I may not be plugged in to the hacker community, being the age I am and having the experience i do is a huge, totally different network that is a gift that keeps on giving.So while something things are slower, some things are considerably faster.

      1. giffc

        rock on Tereza 🙂

    7. Liz Crawford

      I agree with Giff, particularly on the skills a non-coding founder needs to bootstrap a company regardless of whether they are male or female. Some of these skills can be gained by working for an existing start-up before trying to run your own. Biz people with hands on experience, and an existing network, are more likely to be able to attract a coding co-founder, and make the most out of an incubator program.Is it really necessary to make an incubator like this women ONLY? If the aim is to build businesses that primarily target women – make that part of the selection criteria instead. CMU increased the number of women it admitted into its undergrad CS programs, by lowering the emphasis on prior programming experience (something that was not a good predictor of success by senior year). No affirmative action required or adjustment in standards — just a much better male/female ratio.


      @Giffc This is so true: “what you need is a technical co-founder and partner who will be with you as you evolve and iterate and improve”How did you find one?K–

      1. giffc

        Short answer: networking. A VC happened to like us both, knew we were both looking for someone to complement us, connected us, and we happened to fit very well.I should clarify that I’m all for structure to improve mentoring and welcoming folks into the entrepreneurial community, although one *could* argue that DIY is a test of entrepreneurial mettle. But no vision, regardless of domain knowledge, is “correct” enough that you can outsource rather than having a tight team iterating an MVP together — at least for anything requiring any kind of technical complexity.

        1. COMRADITY

          @giffc – I am sure you are right about the outsourcing.We are like the dog who caught the car.Pre-sold the vision to the kind of clients who won’t be satisfied with bubble gum and bailing wire.Need to find someone who loves the vision and is up to the expectations.K—

  13. Rahul Deodhar

    I haven’t met 40+ women tech entrepreneur role models. But I think 40 something women have some innovative business idea, acumen and probably may make awesome candidates as business owners.A long time ago there was a saying that said, teach a girl and you ensure the whole family gets educated. I think something similar may happen with women entrepreneurs. If more women become entrepreneurs we will soon have an evolved risk culture in the family.Agree with Tereza.

  14. Dan T

    I’m continually amazed at the women I meet via my kids school and my wife’s book clubs, gourment clubs, etc., One of the mom’s supposedly had some marketing experience – turned out she led marketing at a top 5 ISP (back when then meant something) and was a Harvard MBA. I hired her as VP marketing. Another mom became our head of accounting (part-time). Another mom took over from her, when she had another kid. The 30’s/40’s moms are an a amazing talent pool and anything we can do to help them, helps us all.

  15. Rob K

    Very interesting discussion.Fred- I’m curious what you think about the lack of women VCs and if you think there is anything you can / will do about it. It’s been almost 10 years since I was a VC and we were talking about the issue then. Other than the Kauffman Foundation, I’m not sure anyone is taking a pro-active approach. It’s an even bigger challenge given the shrinking of the industry.

    1. fredwilson

      we just took a small step by hiring christina. But we don’t offer any of our young professionals a career path

    2. paramendra

      Fred’s answer: Christina.

  16. Heather Duey

    As a 40+ female coder, I would be very interested in something like you’re talking about. Having the resources available without having to travel and be away from my family for several months would be key (webinars, maybe?). I’ve dabbled in a few entrepreneurial ventures that have not been successful, and aside from the possibilities of the idea or execution sucking, I would think that at least *some* of it is attributable to the fact that there is no mentorship available in my immediate vicinity. I have had some very good mentoring from the likes of David Cohen and Brad Feld, but email does not always get the point across when trying to convey a concept on what you are working on. Traveling to Boulder four times a year is not an option either. Moving (at least right now) is difficult as the economy in our vicinity is still terrible. Even if I had been accepted into Techstars, it would have been difficult to either be away from my family for three months, or do without my husband’s salary while the whole family moved there.If I knew anything about this sort of thing I would start working on putting it together right now!

    1. rlasa

      Heather,I think you are bringing to light a simple solution to the problem. In the same way as 40 year old female entrepreneurs are the natural cycle to start a company after starting a family, I am sure many great 40 year old female coders are ready to dedicate their full efforts to building startups. We just need to pair them! They will understand each other’s needs and would probably work well together. Add some young techies to the team for some contrarian thought and you have a winner.

      1. Tereza

        Would love to match up!A recurring theme I find among working moms is that it’s really hard for us to find each other. That’s because we’re all running around like mad people getting things done. We don’t stick around to “hang out”.We need ways to meet each other.We work well virtually. We cherish appreciate the opportunity to have flexibility. We are busy getting the kids transitioned early am and maybe 5-8pm. During daytime hours and 9pm onward we crank. Weekends, we try to focus on the family as much as possible. And we sneak peaks of our Blackberry in the bathroom.Interestingly in a totally separate news piece I heard on NPR a few days ago: who does most volunteering, of all segments? Working mothers.Want something done, give it to a busy person.

        1. Jared McKiernan

          Working mothers? Interesting. My mom only worked a few days a week but certainly did a lot of volunteering as well, at first I didn’t catch the “working” and it then surprised me, but now that I think about the “do everything” personality type common to working mothers (and the fact that after young kids+work, doing everything in their 40s might seem less difficult in comparison)Anyhow, I’ve been thinking a lot about this demographic and how much talent is out there just waiting to be used to its full potential. Women currently in their 40s are probably the first generation in which it is relatively common to expect a fulfilling career to be part of one’s life. And those not working or not working on something they find fulfilling are looking to fill this void, although it may not always be a conscious quest.I think matching up interested people who are looking for something to match their skill set (and who generally care very little about the paycheck: see the success of sites in which people earn tiny sums of money for answering questions or completing tasks) is obviously an important piece of this, and poses some difficult problems especially at large scale.Aside from using established real-life networks, how can we bring together potential founders/employees in such a way that “good candidates” will want to join but “bad candidates” don’t flood the ranks like on some of the more open platforms? I think this seems like a great space for a game mechanism, but don’t have any ideas yet of how to design such a game.If we could form a large network across the existing small real-life networks, perhaps it could lead to many small networks forming around ideas/skills/topics across geographic boundaries. Which could then incubate, although a more flexible model than the current incubators would probably turn out to be ideal for this more geographically (and financially) settled-in demographic compared to the “traditional” start-up demographic.

          1. Donna Brewington White

            I think there’s something to this.

        2. Shannon M Davis

          I couldn’t agree more! Would love to connect with you and see how we can help one another.

          1. Tereza

            im literally getting into a car to drive 4 hours right now, need to sign off. pls email me thru my Tumblog? http://www.tereza.com

        3. ShanaC

          Tereza, this may be me talking- some of the most valuable things I learned from growing up in the community I did was the fact that wide groups of women across age groups worked together. Just sayin.

          1. Tereza

            I love working across the age spectrum. At each stage the individual has a key contribution.Early in my consulting career I matched up with a Director, a mom of two young kids (she was the age I am now!). She was part time, 3 days/wk. Brilliant woman, tough as nails, unwaivering ethics. A lot of men did not like to work for her because she was too tough. She was paid 60% salary but worked 80 hrs. She said she did it because she wanted to maintain the option to not work in moments when the family needed her and to work from home 2 days a week.One of her children has life-threatening allergies so during all this she and her daughter started the allergy awareness movement. Her daughter just graduated from HS and her childhood includes testifying to congress about allergy awareness. That was extracurricular. But she was always on edge that she might get a call that Becky was in the ER or worse.At work, I found that as someone in my mid-20s and always in the office, I could play a role as her eyes and ears whenever she wasn’t there. There was lots of negative energy thrown toward her because of her flex schedule. I always watched her back and she watched mine. She gave me the best parenting tips of anyone. And she taught me how to hire and manage a nanny.She was put up for partner 2x. I helped her package her application (~100pp, including dozens of “soundings” which are internal recommendations). I sat with her the first two “failures” while she cried in her office. She had sold more than anyone, innovated, the whole thing.But she was trying to be the Firm’s first part-time partner. And between general resistance and logistical resistance (e.g. What are her voting rights if she’s just 3 days/week? Is she a full partner, or a 2/3 partner?) it took several times at bat.The third time, she broke through. Some people resented it. But she made it. And now there are a bunch more.It does take a village. We learn so much from each other, no matter the age.

          2. ShanaC

            I’d like working with you or her. Strong women, them all.

          3. paramendra

            Wow. What a story. This just might be the best comments section here at AVC of all time, or at least on my watch. Credit goes to you.

        4. Donna Brewington White

          I’ve heard criticism of the idea of working virtually in a startup — for instance, Mark Suster’s recent post that I intend to respond to — but I’ve recently worked on a series of projects with a group of people I’ve never met and have developed excellent working relationships– another reason to love technology! Funny you mention 9 p.m. onward. This has been prime working time for me for years! At one point, I discovered that many of my startup clients male and female were working late nights/early mornings so it was like the middle of a business day in terms of getting things done.

      2. Canadajulie01

        Yes, I want this pairing too! How do we start?

    2. Shannon M Davis

      Heather, we are seeking a tech partner. I would love speak with you. Email me [email protected]

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Shannon — Just took a quick look at your site — what a great idea! I’m really better at helping companies find people rather than helping people find jobs, but if I can ever be a resource to you, I’d love to help. Unfortunately, my time is limited but if I can throw out an idea from time to time, or be a sounding board, please keep me in mind. [email protected]


      Hey Heather – Are you located in the NY area?K–

      1. Heather Duey

        No, I am in Tallahasse, FL…

        1. ShanaC

          Or not. Ok, next question, who is in the Tallahasse Metro?

          1. Heather Duey

            “Tallahassee Metro” is pretty nonexistent unfortunately. 🙂

          2. Donna Brewington White

            haha…hopefully, it’s okay that I laughed…

    4. ShanaC

      I’d work with you!

  17. steveplace

    “Our entrepreneurial sweet spot is around age 40.”Is there any evidence for this? Would be a very interesting data point.

    1. Tereza

      I’ll try to find it and share.It was quoted at the We Own It Summit as part of a recently released study.

      1. steveplace


    2. paramendra

      That number is statistical. Most entrepreneurs start out around that age. 40.

  18. ExtensionEngine, LLC

    As a entrepreneur focused on bringing the tech team to a biz-savvy startup team, I’m working closely with a number of women that have terrific ideas, experience, and talent. Technology is not part of those experiences and talents, and therefore my role is pretty welcome to the mix. I’m not sure I’ve seen a pattern emerge from my relatively small data set, but the one that makes me most optimistic is their intense focus on customers and their needs. I can reduce execution risk on the tech side to practically zero in most cases, but the risk of not building the right solution is all on the entrepreneur, and the women that I’ve worked with all get that. Most of the male entrepreneurs I know and work with are more about knowing more than the market, which in my opinion is freaking hard.

    1. Tereza

      Women are laser-focused on the customer. Product comes next.I think the current prevailing model is totally product-focused. And I think that works when the founders totally know and live their market because essentially they are the customers.But if the problem is one they don’t know intimately — such as a uniquely women’s problem — it would be very easy to get the product wrong.

  19. bridgetwi

    Hell. Yeah. Fundamental shift in thinking happening with this group. 40+ women are often “tapped” as pivotal #2 role. You often here their names as the go-to person, the innovator, the business brain for the hacker genius. Why aren’t they/we going out and forging our own path. I think there are societal and psychological pressures having nothing to do with talent and entrepreneurship.

  20. phanio

    Great post and glad to see you steping up to lend a hand.You stated; “First, there aren’t enough women entrepreneurs. There aren’t enough women VCs. There aren’t enough women developers. The startup ecosystem is largely a man’s world and as a result, we see a lot of certain kinds of businesses and not enough of others.”Not sure I agree. From my experiences, I think there are as many women in tech that want to be in tech. I don’t think that we can force more into that field just because we or someone else thinks there should be more.It is like women with math and science. For decades our government and educators have been pushing women into math and scinece and it has not worked – mostly becuase, in my opinion, they don’t want to be there. It would be like saying we need more chefs and thus, you Fred, must now be a chef. Might not be what you want or the best use of your skills – just someone elses opinion that we need more chefs and you should be one.I think we have as many women in the tech field as they want in the tech field and I don’t think we will get any more just by telling people (men and women) that we need more. Very hard to get someone to have passion for an industry or a business if they don’t really want to be there – and without the passion, there is no success.However, I do like the idea of incubators (from a previous Executive Director of a business incubator) and accellerator for women run start-ups (not just in tech). Thus, my opinion is not to try to force more women into tech (let them decide on their own) but to really, really support the ones that want to be there.

    1. Tereza

      There is an important philosophy in parenting called “child-led”.Dr. Maria Montessori, Italy’s first female graduate of medical school — who then couldn’t get a job in a hospital — got a position creating a new school for “derelict”/unteachable troubled orphans.She created a method which treats the children with respect, and sets out clearly defined, compelling tasks. Then the child selects into them. They are “self-correcting” — which means, the kid is doing it on his/her own and learning through mistakes themselves.In particular, their materials are excellent at math and what she was able to do is get her “unteachable” children learning math concepts outperforming their peers. They approached concepts when they were ready for them, but not before.It has influenced the world of education for 100 years.Jean Piaget, another educational philosopher, created frameworks to help us understand that different kids learn differently and they learn things at different times.Two critical concepts here: (1) everyone is different, and (2) if the “opt in” to something, at the right time for them, they’re more likely to learn it, do it, and make an impact. And they’re more likely to be passionate about it.These are applicable to tech, incubators/accelerators, and society overall.No one is trying to force women into Tech. We want to remove barriers so they don’t not consider it. But we want them to opt in more often than they do today.

      1. paramendra

        Great answer to an odd query.

      2. Kate Huyett

        “No one is trying to force women into Tech. We want to remove barriers so they don’t not consider it. But we want them to opt in more often than they do today.”The argument for women entering tech (at least in their 20s) is in many ways similar to Charlie’s argument about why college graduates go to banking/consulting over startups: information asymmetry. High-profile programs like Women 2.0 or an XX Combinator, especially those that truly have the buy-in from the male part of the VC and tech start-up communities, would go a long way towards rebalancing that asymmetry.

    2. paramendra

      You sound a little defensive.

  21. geddes munson

    Fred – do you know any of the investors at the GoldenSeeds angel group? They really seem to have their act together and are a positive force for female entrepreneurship, seems remiss not to mention them in a post like this.

    1. kenberger

      you just beat me to that comment. http://www.goldenseeds.com is a group i can vouch for. They’d seem a natural to talk to about this.

    2. Tereza

      Golden Seeds is terrific but for later stage.They require a company has two paying customers in order to embark on their funding process.We are looking into concept-through-launch.

    3. fredwilson

      yes, i have spoken at one of their eventsit is a great group of women, but they are focused on angel investing

  22. Carla Thompson

    Tereza, I’d love to get you involved in Sharp Skirts – sharpskirts.com – my startup focused on women entrepreneurs. The site is rough right now, as we’re in development and launching a more sophisticated platform in late August. But the basic premise plays off one of your comments below: “It’s amazing the brainpower when I have a beer with my kids’ friends moms or at school pickup/dropoff.” We want to employ that brainpower on and off the site to help women build their businesses. Let’s talk more on the phone – ping me at carla [at] sharpskirts.comFred, I’d love to tell you more too and will follow up with an email. But I would like to argue one point. The conventional wisdom that there are few women entrepreneurs and developers simply isn’t true, something I discovered just a couple of weeks after launching. Women are literally coming out of the woodwork in response to our idea. They’re desperate for a support network based on knowledge, one that goes beyond the “you go girl” type of group that currently exists. An example and then I’ll shutup. I put out the word on Twitter one Friday that I needed a female developer. By Monday morning, I had eight female developers in Austin alone. They’re out there – they’re just too busy working.

    1. Cindy Gallop

      Carla – you’re absolutely right. Every week I meet with at least 2 or 3 women entrepreneurs to help and advise them, and I know many, many women entrepreneurs within my network – all of whom struggle with the same obstacles and lack of support and funding. Often for precisely Fred’s reason above and the one I cited in my interview with the Faster Times on why women don’t get VC funding:http://thefastertimes.com/t…Diversity drives innovation: women often come up with very different startup ideas that don’t fit malecentric tech industry ‘templates’.And it is a numbers game. There are less women entrepreneurs than men overall, so if you want to find them, you have to actively look for them and attract them. And if you’re offering female-friendly help, resources and access to funding, hen you’ll be knocked over in the rush…:)

    2. Tereza

      LOVE the name, sharpskirts. Funny!I will ping you.I do agree, they are all over the place. Look left and right and you may be sitting next to one and didn’t even know it.7 years ago in our little town of 5000, where the conventional wisdom is “there are no working moms”, a handful of us started a ListServ (now a googlegroup) called Pound Ridge Working Moms. It has ~150 members now. Who knew? We didn’t know they were in our midst.The best part is, the topics and advice is so rich, that lots of other people beg to join the list.We don’t have time to screw around so get to the point on helping each other. In-and-out.

      1. paramendra

        You are in your element today.

  23. evanjacobs

    It’s Eric Ries not Reis.

    1. fredwilson

      nice catch, will fix nowi am horrible with eis and ies

  24. BillSeitz

    I think in any startup, the founding partners need to cover the core skills necessary to that type of business. For an internet startup, one of those skills is coding. And this is a full-time/dedicated job, because it inherently requires having your head in the product-space to drive good product/tech decisions.So any model that assumes that some floating pool of *-toy techies can “just execute” the ideas of a non-technical founder seems to have low likelihood of success to me.A non-tech founder needs a tech co-founder. Regardless of age/sex.There are periodic find-your-cofounder events in NYC, but I doubt they’re any more effective than speed-dating events (if your goal is a longish-term relationship).Maybe if people seeking founders (both sides) spent more time in a big enough co-working area, more-frequent-and-ongoing social interactions might lead to emergent matching?I’m not sure the NYC real-estate economics of CoWorking spaces work for the pre-formation activities. Maybe NYU or Google should open up some space….

    1. Tony Bacigalupo

      Bill, agreed about the issues surrounding creating healthy circumstances for co-founders to find each other.Google recently sponsored TechHub, a new coworking-type space in London– I’m looking forward to seeing how that develops. NYC’s real estate economics are extremely tough for dedicated coworking space, but not impossible… In our new space we’re combining workspace with educational programming and events after hours– each thing reinforced the other, and together they can sustain a space’s operational costs.I’m really excited about overwhelming response to Girl Develop It, a program one of our members started to teach women how to become developers. The more tools & resources we can provide to draw these people out, the better for everyone.

      1. fredwilson

        tony – there are literally dozens of co working spaces in NYC, probably morethe “NYC real estate economics” is one of those memes that is largely untruethere is even a coworking space just for women on 23rd street

  25. Cindy Gallop

    Fred/Tereza – as a 50-year-old woman entrepreneur who therefore has a lot of direct experience of what you are both talking about and addressing – ‘older’ and ‘female’ = double whammy of ‘unfundability’, not as sexy to support as the Gen Y (male) hacker, etc etc – I’m both absolutely delighted to see this post and to hear that Tereza is working on something along these lines. I would love to help and support in any way that I can and to mobilize my network to do so.I’m also, btw, a 50-year-old NYC-based woman entrepreneur who is writing this from San Diego where I relocated my startup team for the month – my general manager/tech lead is based here so our programmer’s bunking down with him, and my user experience lead’s in-laws usefully have a 3-bed apartment currently sleeping her, me and our designer. We are all loving the experience. Moving to Silicon Valley for 3 months would not have been an issue…:)And, as I tweeted yesterday, one measure of success for TEDWomen will be how many men – and powerful, influential men – attend and show interest in attending. We need to see a lot more interest and support of the kind shown above.Cindy [email protected]@cindygallop1

    1. Tereza

      Cindy, I’m so with you.We don’t want a whole bunch of women just pitching to another group of women.We want to be full-fledged citizens of a community of awesome entrepreneurs who are pitching to the most awesome bunch of investors.

      1. Cindy Gallop

        Thanks, Tereza. And actually, I don’t think there should be a TEDWomen at all – I think TED should focus their energies on making TED Long Beach completely gender equal and equal opportunity focused in terms of attendees, speakers and connections and outcomes (speaking as someone who regularly bombards them with female speaker recommendations :))

        1. Tereza

          Agree. They should be more deliberate in increasing women at the core event.

      2. Donna Brewington White


    2. Donna Brewington White


  26. PhilipSugar

    I too root for Tereza and as a fellow Penn grad I’d offer any help I can.”Y Combinator participants are for the most part very young — in their early 20’s. This is not when women would be most inclined. “I think that is the problem we need to solve to get more women in entrepreneurship. I’m really working with my daughter on this at an early age, I do think unfortunately there is some bias because people do sit up and look at my daughter a little strange when she says I want to own my own business. (then when she says its a veterinary practice they ease back a bit). But notice, I don’t want her to dream to be a vet, I’ve pushed her to want to own the business….and some people think that’s pushing a bit too hard, but its not. ….people don’t look twice if you’re pushing your boy, but they look at it differently when you are pushing your girl.We need to push because I agree 50% of the talent is on the female side and we don’t want to waste the different viewpoint and talents that a different gender brings. But we have to push the girls early. By definition they have it harder….we all agree there are fewer role models. Just look at my case…..my daughter can look at her Mother (she’s still young enough that she worships her) and see a nurse practitioner that works three days a week in a doctors office.It was so much easier when I had an old paid off car, and $300/month rent in a townhouse I shared with two buddies as the song says: “I could make a million or wind up broke, free and easy down the road I go”You just get used to it and as you get in your forties it just comes naturally, but I think its really hard women or for that matter men in their forties. The time to start is in the twenties. But again if it was easy anybody could do it.Again Tereza you go girl!

    1. Tereza

      Hey Phil, thanks so much. I respect you tremendously so it means a lot coming from you.Since age 11 I was helping my mom write up mailings, stuff envelopes, watched her pitch free facials to strangers in the supermarket. Be on the phone trying to get a new listing at 7pm during dinner (because in real estate, your clients are available outside business hours).Her mother worked. We learn so much from our mothers and fathers.Mothers all over the world have always worked supporting family businesses, farms, etc. The concept of “office” is relatively new. And the concept of “stay-at-home mom” is largely a post-WWII concept. Nothing against it — great if you can do it! — but it’s more of an historical anomaly.Business used to be conducted at home, and mom definitely was part of that business.I think business is, on some level, going home again. Technology is making that happen.

      1. Jared McKiernan

        philsugar said we need to get more women involved in entrepreneurship.I’d go one further: we need to get more people involved in entrepreneurship.

        1. Donna Brewington White

          That’s right, Jared. So much depends on this — particularly, our economic future as a nation — and as a world economy.

        2. Tereza

          I think that’s absolutely true.I think many of us have been let down by “jobs”.I’m on a girls’ weekend right now with my best friends, several Wharton classmates. One surprising thing we all have in common is that we grew up in “family businesses” where we were expected to pitch in and had full soup-to-nuts views into them from an early age.I’ve met some others like this and it’s a tie that binds. For example when I met Sara Holoubek (illuminate labs, and former pres of SEMPO) we were completing each others’ sentences in 10 minutes.They can do anything — it’s in the DNA.BTW I have this dream of bringing my 7-y.o. daughter along to witness it on the day that I close my first round of institutional funding. Because I was it seared into her brain that it’s not only possible, but “normal”.

      2. paramendra

        “….business is, on some level, going home again. Technology is making that happen….”That is the information age for you. That is the post-industrial society.

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Appreciate your comment, Phil. I have a 13 year old daughter. When the time comes for her to make a career choice, I am committed to her having the option of “starting a business” rather than necessarily “finding a job.” I’m committed to this for my sons as well, but so far my daughter shows greater potential in this regard.


    Indeed this is a better model than the pay for a chance to pitch model which exist for women entrepreneurs.BUT honestly, I am more passionate about being a part of a fund/group dedicated to a purpose instead of gender. Instead of competing against Graham by making solutions based on the same principles – how about an alternative theory of what it takes to succeed.Given Mark Suster’s great post (which I found from your “tweet”) http://www.bothsidesoftheta… – isn’t it time for a fund that aims for an alternative mission based on the lessons learned from the past?Here’s the mission I have a passion for: http://www.comradity.com/co…Katherine Warman Kern (in case you didn’t notice that makes me a woman)@comraditywww.comradity.com

    1. Tereza

      Hey Katherine — I too am way more interested in purpose than labels.In fact as I read these comments I’m just leaning toward — how could programs be more friendly to parent entrepreneurs?

      1. COMRADITY

        Relatedly, there’s a challenge to working at home to raise kids AND remain connected to network and realize the creative productivity of working together on solving a problem. Separately, you’ve raised the point above about the value of tapping people at a point in their lives when they have the experience to understand the problems they are solving. There’s a challenge to take advantage of the diversity of that experience and knowledge base. To overcome both challenges, seems as though it would be great to have some kind of matchmaking service to connect people with complementary experience/knowledge/skills so they can spend more time being productive and less time trying to figure out where each is coming from.K—-

        1. Donna Brewington White


      2. Kylie Sachs

        Hey Tereza! Love this idea, and also love the parenting-bent. I am working on a start-up right now and the founder is an incredible, driven, hard charging guy with two kids and an equally busy wife. His schedule tends to mirror mine where he has to leave at a certain time each day to pick up his kids, put them to bed and then…yes get back online to get working again. There is no question in anyone’s mind about commitment, it’s just part of our culture.

    2. Jennifer McFadden

      I agree on the pay-to-pitch model. I had 5 people email me r.e. the Woman 2.0 summer bootcamp. I was excited–and willing to hoof it to San Fran for several weeks despite the fact that I have 2 kids–until I saw that it cost $500! Seems like a bit of a racket to me.

      1. COMRADITY

        There are several like Women 2.0. I’ve seen them mentioned here. I understand that they need filters. Willingness to pay something is a way to do that (Just as an investor likes to see that the founders have invested some of their own capital). The best charge very little at the application stage, e.g., Springboard. * I’ve revised this comment because there’s been more buzz about this issue since I posted it. women, e.g., Stacey Kannenberg and Jennifer McFadden have echoed my reaction. Stacey actually criticizes the Springboard model which I think is better than others – you don’t put up the big bucks for the educational boot camp until they’ve vetted your pitch. And you don’t make a pitch unless you pass the first application stage. I’ve told Springboard I want to know whether or not they have investors interested in a paid business model. So even if I “pass” the application stage, I don’t want to take the time to prepare the pitch unless I know I’m on the same page as my audience. I’m willing to pay the $50 and fill out the preliminary info to find that out. Importantly, Tereza and Fred, one feature that could make your program different and better is coming up with an alternative business model. Keep the upfront investment very low. And I don’t just mean money. Only ask entrepreneurs to invest the time it takes to update a business plan (or write it for the first time) and share their valuable insights when you know you have prospective investors and/or resources relevant enough to advise them. Tereza and Fred, there’s a lot of discussion here about whether or not the objective is to help women get the skills they need to compete as technology start-up leaders or if it is to help “wise” women (and maybe men like them, too) who have a lot of a priori knowledge about what there is a market for and connections with that market but don’t have the tech resources with equivalent experience. (in other words I do not want to learn how to code, I need someone who has as much experience coding or managing coders as I do on the business and marketing side). If the latter is the mission, then I think this may be less of an educational value and more of a matchmaking and advisory value. I’d value access to the right CTO, Advisory Board, and then investors. I would pay a premium for that service if I was convinced that you have connections relevant to my business. And I would be willing to pay with more than cash. What if your organization actually had a seat on the Advisory Board, with the same benefits offered to others?*K-

        1. Jennifer McFadden

          Interesting comments.I want to clarify a bit about my Women2.0 comments. I really don’t think $500 is that big of a deal–and it is only one of many hurdles that any entrepreneur-male or female-will encounter. I find the fee frustrating in the case of Women 2.0 Labs because of the organization’s mission–to promote female entrepreneurship. The hurdle seems unnecessary in this case. It seems like it should be relatively easy, particularly with their fairly large staff, to raise sponsorship money to cover the gap of $10K (I worked in the development office at Yale for 4 years in corporate fundraising, so I’m coming at this with some pretty significant sponsorship experience).It’s not just the fee that differentiates the Women2.0 labs from other established seed accelerators. I’m a bit wary of any program that tries to put teammates together who have never met. Teammate fit and skill balance is critical to start-up success. I think that it is really difficult to predict who will work well together long-term.Also, I think that some of the power of the seed accelerators comes from the fact that you are forced to focus on your venture–and only your venture–for 10 weeks. Something interesting happens to you, your team, and your colleagues in the program when you are “on” for 18 hours a day for 10 weeks. I know people who have gone through some of these programs–and, I have direct experience from having helped run the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute’s summer program–who have talked about how empowering this can be. Being forced to figure out your market, rapidly prototype a product, get your beta customers aligned, find funding (or decide not to), etc., makes you focus in a way that a program you are doing on the side after work won’t.There is another benefit that arises when Y Combinator, TechStars, or other seed accelerators invest in their portfolio companies (which Women2.0 does not do). Incentive alignment. Once they have made their investments and gotten their founder’s equity in exchange, Paul Graham et. al. are going to do everything that they can to ensure the continued success of their portfolio companies. The mentoring and networking doesn’t end at the end of the 10-week program, but is ongoing. For some, this will be just as critical as the guidance they get during the intensive program. It is a built-in network. Without this alignment of incentives, I would be curious to know what Women2.0 is doing to support the development of this type of ecosystem among the women who are part of the program.None of this is meant to slam the Women2.0 program, but rather to point out the differences between what they’re doing and what is being done at TechStars or Y Combinator. And, of course, the point of the program may not be to emulate these programs. It may not even be to create long-standing, viable companies or a network of female entrepreneurs. It might just be to give women a taste of entrepreneurship while allowing them to keep their day jobs–essentially a really well-done continuing education course on entrepreneurship. There is no harm in that–and it might actually be an interesting way for the organization to expose women to entrepreneurship and unveil some of the myths associated with start-ups.

          1. COMRADITY

            Lots of great thinking on how the pioneers in this area could improve.I agree with the notion of the “incubator” with some “skin in the game”. This seems to have the potential to be a virtuous circle. There are some potential conflict of interest issues here to iron out. But not a reason to discard it out of hand.K—

      2. fredwilson

        i think jason calacanis did a bit of a disservice when he threw all of these programs under a “pay to pitch” busit does cost something to operate these programsmaybe $500 isn’t the right numberbut not everything can be free

        1. jasoncalacanis

          I think my payola thing has been warped into “startups should never pay for anything,” by some folks.To be clear, that was *NOT* my positon.My positon is that angel investors and VCs don’t charge people to hear pitches, and conference shouldn’t charge startups to get on stage and pitch.I never said that a conference can’t charge for a ticket (I mean, i have for three years at TechCrunch50, and will be doing so at the LAUNCH conference in Feb 2011… the “new” TechCrunch50!).I never said that a seminar could teach folks how to raise capital and charge for that, or that an incubator like Y Cominator or TechStars isn’t entitled to a little equity for their hard work.That being said, there are so many resources available for free to learn how to raise money I’d suggest checking those first. Things like:Venture HacksBrad Feld’s blogDavid Cohen’s bloghttp://www.paulgraham.com/http://thisweekin.com/thisw…http://thisweekin.com/start…The Founder’s Institutewww.openangelforum.com

          1. fredwilson

            what is your take on the women 2.0 program Jason?

          2. jasoncalacanis

            1. For 15 years I’ve been living with the frustration of trying to find female CEOs for panels at conferences and on my podcast.2. Since our daughter was born I’ve been thinking about the issue more and more. In fact, I recently put out a call specifically for female candidates for an open position because so many of my companies are male-heavy.In short, I think it’s great to inspire women to take the top slot and start companies.best j

          3. Tereza

            Jason we should meet/talk.I think about this every day on my own behalf and my two daughters.Thrilled to hear you’re thinking about it.tnemessanyi at gmail dot com.

        2. kidmercury

          good point on your diss of jason boss i agree

    3. Donna Brewington White

      K. Warman — As a general rule, I agree. Normally, hate anything that segregates…(hmm…wonder why I might be sensitive to that?)…but sometimes, the needs of a group are so unique and specific…or the process of rectification so intense, that a special purpose initiative is required. And, really, this is more about a purpose than a gender — to enlarge participation in a vitally important arena that has heretofore, by-and-large, been limited to a select population.But, really appreciate the sentiment.BTW comradity=interesting+cool

  28. Amber Shah

    I love this idea.I’m a 25 year old woman but I already have professional experience, a toddler and a startup so I think the age brackets are less relevant.Here are a few thoughts about what I think this should include:1) An all-day kick-off on a Saturday and optional meet-up on Sunday in some location where people will fly in. People with extenuating circumstances can opt out but most people ought to be able to come out at least once and it would do a lot towards building community.2) A forum, with active moderators3) Weekly exclusive webinars with high quality people in the industry (live and recorded). The invited people would get invites to the forums as well and if they contributed it would be fantastic. 4) The topics would probably be different than traditional. Instead of “Getting to Ramen Profitable” with 23 year old male entrepreneur it would be “How to catapult a startup when your a full time parent” with Gabriel Weinberg.5) It would be restricted to tech industry businesses. There are some women focused groups out there, but I find them to be too focused on being a life coach or selling your knitting-wares on Etsy. There’s nothing wrong with that but I’m tired of having to glean nuggets of business wisdom out of things targetting a different demographic.6) Men would be allowed. Not even sure if it’s illegal to exclude men but I wouldn’t want to. Probably the rule would be that at least one founder has to be a woman. Or maybe not rule at all, not sure. Adult men with a family to support have similar restrictions so they can also benefit from it.7) Coders would not be provided. Like giffc I am not ok with outsourcing the core of your business, and the few people I have seen do it successfully have a certain amount of ruthlessness about it. Women are likely to be too trusting and less cutt-throat and it’s not going to work. Building software is incredibly hard and I think a non-technical women (or man) without a technical co-founder would tend to have unrealistic expectations, unclear requirements and focus too much on the UI. A non-technical woman either learns how to code or finds a technical co-founder (male or female).I think a local version would be ok but I think it would be harder to get something like that going. There would certainly have to be some sort of child-care situation, most likely a shared care thing and it can be done but it’s tricky. A local thing is probably better suited to inviting a couple of women over to your house and working together while the kids play on the floor. A regular playgroup but instead of chatting about poop you chat about startups. I’d be open to it but I don’t think that’s the kind of thing that’s going to make huge in-roads in this area.Seed money would be nice, but if the pool was for $25K in seed money, I’d rather get $15K and you pay for my flight and hotel to come out for the kick off and maybe for the wrap up (for me and my family). You could say to just give the money and let the person decide how to spend it (whether on bringing the family or not, etc) but that will just encourage people not to go. It’s like when a company will pay you if you don’t use your vacation, people are inclined to just to get the money. Instead, if you use it or lose it, people are more inclined to use it.One of the things I like to do are things that I feel enable women, but without explicitly naming women. One example is a small site I recently created to aggregate work from home programming jobs (appropriately named http://workfromhomeprogramm…. As a woman with a young child I always searched for these but there’s so much spam. Another thing is Code Anthem (my startup) is about empowering developers to prove their skill set. Another thing that I think will help women rise to the top but without explicitly calling them out. And certainly I’m not making this just for women (at all) but I think that women will stand to benefit from it greatly. I think that this should be like that. We don’t need to call “Moms! Do you have an idea for a site? Come be an entrepreneur!” Instead, let’s just make an incubator that would be more conducive to a mom and leave it open-ended. They will come.I could organize this but I’m completely cut-off from the type of people who could fund this (which is part of the problem this would help solve). If anyone’s trying to do this, feel free to contact me: [email protected]

    1. Tereza

      Amber I’m loving your comments here. You are synthesizing this debate so richly!!I agree with you, it’s really more about life-stage than a specific age or gender.Bottom line, if you are a primary caregiver to children, the conventional incubator/Y combinator path is an absolute no-go.I rarely print out comments but I am printing and studying this one closely. So much here, I want to know it cold.I’d love to meet you.

    2. Tereza

      Love your picture, too. What a cutie!

    3. fredwilson

      you are not cut off from the type of people who could fund thisthat’s the whole point of this blog and the internet

  29. Archi

    40s AND 50s.

    1. Tereza

      Absolutely!Amber made a great comments. She’s a mom age 25. It’s really more about lifestage than age.Being a primary caregiver whenever that is poses some obstacles which I think have been taken for granted.Although I do have to say, the higher I creep up the age spectrum and the deeper my crow’s feet get, the louder and faster the VC Geiger Counter seems to tick. Radioactive!

      1. ShanaC

        They do realize if the company went public at the end of the fund you would still be running cirlces around partners the same age while many of the partners would be slowing down because of how aging in men and women works? Women and Menopause….Women get this added boost of still running around for the most part.

  30. the next women

    Fred, Thanks for your post. In London, thenextwomen.com (we are the Female Techcrunch..) has organized funding & pitching events for women entrepreneurs, set up strategy workshop for them, and introduced a mentoring programme with 30 serial entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs with a symblic fee to get committed entrepreneurs. To our partner Astia.org. we refer all the ‘elite’ high growth ones which are in need of funding, they enter the Doing it Right programme and the Investor ForumWe are ready for the next step, and can evolve the program further.

    1. fredwilson

      when is your next event?

  31. elizabeth stark

    I’ve been thinking of starting a YC-style startup school for women for a while now. Right now it’s in its infant stages, and I hadn’t envisioned any specific age demographic, but let me justify why, if done right, it will change the face of tech founders:(1) Outreach makes a difference. Currently, only 3% of applicants to YC are women, if that. There are a variety of reasons as to why, but the point is that there is a very low feeder group that is self-reinforcing. In my own experience, outreach and encouragement make a huge difference. If there were a YC aimed at women, it would specifically make a point to encourage more women beyond the 3% to apply and become entrepreneurs.(2) Mentorship is key. As I have written, mentors play a hugely important role for young entrepreneurs, and the lack of mentors for women is problematic: http://www.huffingtonpost.c…. A YC-style startup school would provide guidance, mentorship, and connections in a way that is not currently available to many aspiring female entrepreneurs.(3) Tangible results. Right now there just aren’t that many tech startups with female founders. In 2004, only 1% of high tech startups were founded by women, and in 2007, only 3% of venture capital went to women. (Note: I am working on an early stage startup of my own.) Encouraging a dozen or so new startups with female founders to launch would have a significant impact on the number of new startups with female founders.(4) Visibility matters. Other budding female entrepreneurs will see the examples set by the startup school participants, which would hopefully motivate them to apply and/or finally start that company that they had been thinking of starting. If the “XX Combinator” increased the percentage of female applications to all early-stage startup schools, then that would be a huge success in and of itself.(5) A top notch team. Of course an “XX Combinator” would risk being branded as “the less elite” startup school. By involving influential entrepreneurs, investors, and mentors, both men and women, it can avoid the potential risk of negative signaling. Furthermore, the plan would be that the startup team would not have to be all women. It would have to have female founders, so it would also stress the importance of having founding teams with both genders.(6) A good investment. With the ratio of women funded for tech startups in the 3% range, there’s a significant opportunity here to invest in female entrepreneurs. Studies have shown that women-led tech startups have lower failure rates than those led by men, and tech startups with female executives have a 35% better return on investment. Female entrepreneurs are currently undervalued, so this would be a good move for investors.

    1. Tereza

      awesome comment. would love to meet you. seems you’re in NY??

      1. elizabeth stark

        Thanks! I am indeed in NYC, and this would be a NYC-based project to start.

        1. Tereza

          let’s meet. tnemessanyi at gmail dot com.

    2. ShanaC

      I would love to meet too. I think there a ton of women here who would love to meet, and ton of organizational material that is not pulling together correctly to solve the right problems.

      1. paramendra

        Could the next AVC MeetUp have a theme? This theme?

    3. Donna Brewington White

      Elizabeth — So appreciate the thoughts you’ve shared here — glad to see that you are connecting with Tereza — someone of whom I’ve become quite a fan.This statement especially grabbed me:”If the “XX Combinator” increased the percentage of female applications to all early-stage startup schools, then that would be a huge success in and of itself.”While I believe that something like XX Combinator could have a profound impact and is a remarkable idea, I do believe that it’s greatest success would be to help change the face of the startup and VC world so that a special “female focused” group is no longer necessary. But, for now it is necessary. Desperately so. While a more ideal alternative would perhaps be a concentrated and highly intentional initiative to promote entrepreneurship among women through the existing structures — so as not to segregate women; realistically, the XX Combinator approach may initially have a greater impact as women gain their bearings and sense of identity in this arena.As someone who truly believes that the future of our nation’s economic wellbeing is dependent upon innovation and entrepreneurial venture, I am furthermore convinced that promoting opportunity for the wealth of experience and ideas that women represent to enter the startup arena is a vital part of this. How can it NOT be?BTW, also especially like the idea that the startup team not have to be all women. This is crucial!.

    4. fredwilson

      elizabeth – if you get serious about this, come see me. i’d like to discuss your ideas with you

      1. elizabeth stark

        Thanks, I’m serious about it, and would be happy to discuss!

    5. Aruni S. Gunasegaram

      Elizabeth – as one of those few women entrepreneurs in tech who did get VC funding for her first company several years ago in Austin, TX, I agree with much of what you said. Interestingly, I did not have any technical degrees…my co-founder did. It was an interesting ride and there are a handful of women of us here in Austin who can say we were on the founding team, let alone founding CEO, of a tech company. Unfortunately, I can’t say that many of us went on to start other venture backed tech companies because of the experience, life circumstances, lack of supporting mentors (as you mentioned), etc.In my opinion, the issue of women entrepreneurs in tech is a complicated one for many social, psychological, perception, and financial reasons.

    6. andyidsinga

      I really like the idea of better outreach.I was involved with a charter school project and community outreach was key to attaining racial and socio-economic diversity in the attending families.Outreach seems especially important when the target audience might not be out searching for the thing – but is likely to be qualified…now I’m off to read Tereza’s post 🙂

  32. San

    Fred, why not reach out to Shaherose at Women2.org? This fits directly with their mission. I’m sure they’d welcome the exchange. I’m happy to connect you if you’d like.

    1. Shaherose

      Thanks Sanford!Fred and Tereza – would love to connect. Drop me an email and lets make some real change!

      1. fredwilson

        shaherose – how do i contact you?

  33. Big Kate

    unless you are reasonably successful already being able to afford to go to TED is major hurdle. I can only assume that the hackers would already be substantially wealthy. Women in their 40’s are paying mortgages and making sure their kids are ok. they need all their money to build their companies. I’m not saying it’s impossible, i saw plenty of women at Ted this week,(I LIVE in Oxford) but most of them seemed to be working for others or in academia. 6K plus expenses is a lot of ask to network face to face.if you were/are in my fair city today, I hope your enjoying yourselfBig Kate

    1. Tereza

      Agree. I’d give my eyeteeth to attend TED. But beyond not being invited I could never afford it.

      1. paramendra

        They put all their videos online.

  34. tiffani

    I like this idea, but creating a program only for women who are 40 and over is, in my opinion as a 25 year old, just as bad as an incubator that either consciously or unconsciously excludes women. Why subdivide a group that’s already poorly represented?”Women who start businesses like to know what they’re doing, and be trained and experienced in it. That takes up our 20’s.”What about the women who are in their 20s and want to try their hand now? Ever heard of on-the-job training?I’d get involved with something like this knowing that it was all-inclusive and allowed me to leverage my talents as somebody who can actually code. At 25, it’d be great to get involved with this to have someone with more experience in the world than me as a mentor even. Some of the women I have had mentor me during internships have been women in their 40s who don’t write code at the moment, but were doing so at one point.

    1. Tereza

      If you want to and feel you’re ready, you should do it.The good thing is a lot of existing programs fit your schedule and parameters (I say this assuming you don’t have kids).But notable examples do not fit if you have a family. It’s more about lifestage than age.

      1. ShanaC

        Tereza, they partially fit. I have 0 savings. (I’m thinking of full on starting consulting work for that reason, because hey, why not)Like you, I don’t have my awkward coding partner (who is awkward the way I’m awkward, and can’t stand the Ace after 10 pm- I want to hear myself think!!!!)I want someone to yell back at me, and through that process makes me feel more confident in the idea itself too.And I want people who find the world as interesting as I do. Really. Beyond that, I’m joining a coding group because there is only me.

  35. Vanessa Fox

    I speak from a data point of 1, but in my case, it’s not that I didn’t start a business in my 20s because I wanted more experience, it’s because I had no idea that option was available to me. I don’t know if being a woman has anything to do with that assumption or if it was just that the environment was different in the early 90s. I don’t know how many men in their 20s were starting companies in those days, so I can’t compare.However, I do know a lot of guys who started companies on the side while in college in the mid to latter 90s, which has made me question why the thought never occurred to me.I think there’s an additional question here beyond gender, which is: is the startup/entrepreneurial world better designed for young people (without families, more able to risk everything, able to spend 24 hours a day on projects) and is there value in better creating an environment that works better for older people (who may have less time and can handle less risk, but have more valuable experience)? I don’t know if the current culture *is* this way (I just throw the question out there) — but anecdotally, it seems that while there are a number of people working on startups who are out of their 20s, they often seem to be people who don’t have to worry as much about risk because they have a bank account from previous ventures.Again, from a data point of 1, I’ve nothing but great things to say about my experiences with the startup world. Ignition Partners brought me in as an EIR (as a woman in my latter 30s) and I worked primarily with a woman VC partner there.As always with this kind of thing, I’m sure the issues and solutions are complicated. Are (some) women not as aware that entrepreneurial options exist? Are they not as interested in trying to balance being wives and mothers with the responsibilities of running companies? (We tend to think of success very narrowly, but overall life happiness can be a good gauge.) Is it too hard with kids? (I don’t have kids.) Does the startup world (investors, etc.) have a subconscious preconceived notion of what a successful startup team looks like and not value teams that don’t look like 20-something male geeks as highly?I think this is something that’s important, not just to women entrepreneurs, but to society overall. A world that’s designed by 20-something male geeks (a demographic that I’m a huge fan of, so I don’t intend this as a slight in any way) has a tendency to be designed *for* 20-something male geeks.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Vanessa — Not sure I’m the one best equipped to answer, but interesting questions. Some of your questions may already include the answers or at least some very good guesses. Seems like you’ve given some thought to this.As someone who loves startups and the VC industry and therefore has been watching both, the answer to most of your questions seems to me to be “yes.” But, I would like to add as a qualifier…”for now.” I think we are going to see some changes. Too much depends on it.

  36. Adam D'Augelli

    Hey Fred and Tereza,Check out Women 2.0 Labs (http://www.women2.org/annou…It’s a 5-week program that exists as a cross between YC and Startup Weekend.Groups of 4 work together over the 5 weeks to create, develop, and launch an alpha product while getting feedback from mentors and weekly speakers. The focus is to get more women involved in entrepreneurship and startups.It’s a neat program that may fit within your framework (or even give you a group to work with to start a NY version)

    1. Tereza

      Yes looks awesome. we need some in other geographies! New York! (or….Westchester/Fairfield?) 🙂

    2. Shaheroes

      I am a little late to the discussion here, big thanks for the mention Adam. We owe True Ventures for their support in giving the space to us.Tereza — I love your idea. It’s great to finally talk about ACTION rather than writing, and re-writing articles about the “problem”.The mission of Women 2.0 is to increase the number of female founders of tech startups.Women 2.0’s Labs is a Pre-Incubator or men and women; we aim to be a funnel to programs like YCombinator and Techstars. Adam has captured it perfected – a mashup of YC and Startup Weekend.I’d be happy to chat and exchange ideas. shaherose (at) women2.org

      1. Tereza

        Will love to talk!

    3. fredwilson

      that’s the closest thing i’ve seen to what i think is neededin SF, of coursethat is not a diss on SF, just respect for always being out front with good ideaswe need something like that in NYC

    4. Vasudev Ram

      Interesting post, overall.Re. Women2.org:I saw this video a while ago, and I think its related to the same site. It’s of Sramana Mitra speaking to that org; she’s a women entrepreneur (3-time) and now strategy consultant who advises companies, blogs at SramanaMitra.com on Strategy, and is the author of the Entrepreneur Journeys series of books: The video is here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFkHue814MAI liked the whole video and particularly the last sentence or so of it, by her.- Vasudev

  37. Dylan Salisbury

    I take exception to the “very few women in the U.S. can code” comment. In my work group of 18, 6 including the leader are women coders. Half had a baby in the last five years and came back to work quickly leading projects and people again.Meebo is a typical valley start-up fouded by young talent, and two of the founders (the two technical ones) happen to be women. I never saw the press label Meebo as a “female start-up,” although it might have happened if one of the women was CEO was female.Also in an organization of coders, some of us do our best work after the kids go to sleep — that’s just the way it is.But as the earner in a single-income family who sees myself as a someday entrepreneur, I can relate to many of the challenges described here. Here are some of the things older entrepreneurs can do:1. Prepare your finances. Risk tolerance is a weakness vs. a young entrepreneur, but don’t let it be your achilles heel. Even joining a funded start-up carries a risk of salary interruption. Set aside some savings. Talk to your spouse. Quantify the kinds of risks you are willing to take.2. Deepen your industry knowledge. B2B start-ups need deep understanding of a business pain point and customers’ view of the value proposition.3. Network smart. You’re not at Harvard surrounded by the next generation of world leaders, so be deliberate. What kind of partners and mentors will you need if you start a venture in 3 years? Now take that to LinkedIn and find some actual people. Find a way to reach out to them.4. Educate yourself. Of course, there are a million ways to do this, from self-structured reading to peer organizations to school. If you work for a large company you have more options and support available. I did an evening MBA program — not very expensive after employer support, and I found a new peer group of 30- and 40- somethings who are thinking creatively about advancing their careers.

    1. Tereza

      Maybe it’s a matching issue and a pain point to correct.I am highly connected and have met zero in the past two years.

      1. Dylan Salisbury

        Is it a west coast vs. NYC thing, possibly with an element of self-selection? All my experience in is Northern California. Most of the female coders I know moved here either for work or to attend Berkeley, Stanford, or UC Santa Cruz.

        1. Tereza

          Totally possible.Since great ideas come from anywhere my feeling is we’ll get good things by increasing the ability to execute from anywhere.

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Great practical advice, Dylan.

    3. Tereza

      Wish I could meet more.That’s a great list. You should blog it.

      1. Dylan Salisbury

        Thanks for the encouragement! I blogged it at http://ff.im/-nS7Vx .. if anybody is still listening and making a “smart old dudes who aren’t yet moguls or VCs” list, count me in at @dyfy.

        1. COMRADITY

          added you to the avc women & friends list.

        2. Tereza

          We’re all committed to the dream!

  38. Daria Shualy

    This is an excellent idea and the time is now. In Israel, one of the fastest growing tech communities, we have a work-group called Yazamiyot (stands for Women Entrepreneurs in Hebrew) which is composed by entrepreneurs, VC and investors. It’s spear headed by @einatme of GeminiDLD also had it’s first DLD Women this year in Munich, which was very interesting, but I think aimed mainly at women who are already entrepreneurs.Re Paul Graham and his excellent What Startups are Really Like the one thing I always felt was missing from there, just before the first bit about choosing your co-founders, is choosing your partner in life. I believe that one of the reasons that there aren’t enough of us out there, is that you really need strong active support at home, a homemaker in fact, and most straight men are reluctant to assume that position for their spouses, which makes it that much harder. The solution might lie there.

    1. ShanaC

      How do I get in touch with her? and the People In Yazamiyot? I honestly don’t know all that is flying in my life right now: I do know I have a standing offer to crash outside of Jerusalem of say 3-6 months while getting a job. (Just don’t ask) Ruby Nuby is starting up in NY, but what else can I do there-My impressions of family life in Israel were that they were much more put together in certain ways than the US. Except for the Eurovision.

  39. rachelsklar

    Thanks for shining a light, Fred – and Teresa.Since mid-April – prompted by the lack of women present in that NYmag cover story on the NY tech scene, and the NYT story on how women get a smidge of VC funding, a group of women in the industry have been on a mission to change the ratio – literally, at http://www.changetheratio.com. The gist: There’s nothing wrong with women, there’s nothing wrong with men, but when the ratio of who gets funded, who’s on panels, who’s keynoting conferences, who’s being featured in magazine articles, who’s at closed-door VC dinners etc etc etc is so damn out of whack, then yes there IS something wrong. So to the commenters who say “I don’t want to fund “women” just because they’re women, I want to fund the best ideas no matter where they’re from” I say great – but understand that the pathways to taking those great ideas from A to B are very, very, very different for dudes.See Cindy Gallop on that here: http://changetheratio.tumbl…As for the XXCombinator idea – Teresa, you rock. Elizabeth Stark, who posted here, is working on a Y-Combinator model and I and a few ChangeTheRatio cohorts have begun work on a smaller “mini-incubator” small-grant model to give women entrepreneurs an initial push. My email is [email protected] and I would love to meet and discuss. A rising tide lifts all boats – ALL boats – including dude-boats which benefit from the sudden influx of awesome ideas and talent. And money.That’s where we are. Thanks Fred for advancing this conversation and helping to put it on the radar.www.changetheratio.com

    1. ShanaC

      Ok then, of the people here in the NYC area, when are they free in the Next 2 weeks?

      1. COMRADITY

        Except Wednesday & Friday afternoons, tell me when and where and I will be there.

    2. paramendra

      Good to see you are in the thick of things.

    3. fredwilson

      rachel – is change the ratio more than a blog? is there a meetup?

  40. pamslim

    What an incredibly rich discussion!I have two strong gut reactions to the idea and will dig into the model itself and provide thoughts on that later.First, I often resist the idea of a “women only” organization because in my experience that can isolate and cut off creativity required by cross-fertilization of age, gender, culture, race, personality and communication style. And I seethe at the proliferation of lists that come out that say “greatest entrepreneurs/marketers/experts in X area,” (which is often all men) which is then followed (apologetically) by a “And here is the WOMEN’S list of greatest entrepreneurs/marketers/experts in X area.” What I would love to see is more ways to integrate women into existing structures and organizations.That said, as a 43-year old mother of 2 toddlers and entrepreneur, there ARE different issues and opportunities faced by women in my demographic. Maybe we could follow the model of Daymond John, founder of FUBU (For Us By Us clothing line) who got tired of large clothing manufacturers disrespecting or not including his urban and mainly African-American community with their approach to sales and marketing. His massive success, ironically, pushed the “For Us” portion of his brand into communities of all colors and economic backgrounds because it was creative, well marketed and well-made.85 Broads is another organization which is for women, by women, but is very inclusive reaching out to men as well.I am coaching a female startup founder in her 30s right now and it is one of my greatest joys. She is masterful at the design, management and execution of her plans. She also doesn’t ascribe the “you have to stay up 22 hours a day, not shower and work like hell” model that often permeates 20-something startup culture. She has a product underway, on time and on budget, angel investors lined up, huge customers waiting for her product, and is enjoying every second of the experience. I would love to get her in front of other aspiring female startup founders, to talk about how she has approached her company.I would sign up in a heartbeat to coach female startup founders in an integrated effort with VCs and the technology community. Fred, Tereza and anyone else who is working on this project, please keep me in the loop!-Pamhttp://www.escapefromcubicl…

  41. Elizabeth Spiers

    I’m doing a 90 day launch school right now and it’s not targeted toward women, but a large majority of my applicants were female. (See here: http://www.niemanlab.org/20… ) Of the ten companies I took, seven are run by women.So if anyone wants to help at least seven female entrepreneurs, I’m bringing in guest speakers for Q&As and could use a few willing service providers (lawyers specializing in working with early stage companies in particular) to come in and answer some questions. Interested volunteers can contact me at espiers AT gmail.I’d also like to expand the program after this session ends as a nonprofit org, so I’m looking for companies willing to donate meeting space, cover cost of materials, etc. Please contact me if you’re interested in helping.

    1. fredwilson

      when does your session end Elizabeth?

  42. Jesse Taggert

    As I just posted on Tereza’s blog, Sign me up! Minus, the kids, I am your demographic. I’ve been working in marketing strategy and design out in the SF startup land but increasingly am interested in pursuing some of my own ideas.

  43. aslevin

    Kudos to Fred Wilson for thinking like a smart investor and looking for under-developed resources and opportunities.

  44. thisgirlangie

    We at San Francisco-based Women 2.0 are currently running a “XX Combinator” program of sorts.Women 2.0 Labs is a 5-week pre-incubator program for tech startups that is pre-populated with hackers.Details at http://bit.ly/w2labs2010summer — the next program will be in October/November so check it out and stay tuned if you’re interested in participating.

    1. fredwilson

      this is an excellent programwe need one in NYC

    2. Tereza

      Franchise it and spread it around!

  45. Tonya Sims

    This is such a great idea! But why women in their 40’s? I’m in my early 30’s and am starting a tech company. We are out there….@tonyasims

    1. Donna Brewington White

      You! Go!

  46. Shaherose

    Tereza and Fred: I just wanted to clarify, Women 2.0 Labs is actually more like an X-Y Combinator, we focus on a gender balance and we have no age preferences. This is our focus, as we want to simply create a realistic environment for idea validation, rapid prototyping, customer development and overall learning. We focus on individuals with ideas and support them at the earliest stages.The participants keep their full-time jobs and join Women 2.0 Labs after work hours. I’d be happy to tell you more.We should exchange ideas nonetheless.

    1. fredwilson

      i think gender balance is fine, maybe preferable

  47. amyhoy

    Well, having read these comments, I’m sure adding a bunch of names to my To-Reach-Out-To list!I would love for there to be more women entrepreneurs. I would especially love it if more women would bootstrap. For a lot of “startups,” funding is about putting the onus on someone else to proof your idea… when you could create value and sell directly to customers, instead.As woman bootstrapper — and a girl interested in cars, and photography, and programming — I’m used to going it alone. It’s not as bad as some people make it out, but I would love to have more company.That said, I’m wary of anything that is For Women! Women are as diverse in their interests as men, if not more so, and we all know what happens when something is For Men! And if such pink-washing is being used to convince women to pay-to-pitch, well, that makes me all the more skeptical.I believe that the best way to convince women to found startups is the same best way to convince people who are designers, or information architects, or biz analysts, or writers: better, more open, more friendly, less cliquey real-world education. Role models and mentorship.Not saying, “Hey women! This is for you!” or “Hey history majors! This is for you!” But saying, hey, this is for everybody.That’s why I’m putting on a bootstrapping conference in Vienna, Austria (my adopted home): http://schnitzelconf.comAnd that’s why I just finished teaching a 12-week online class on bootstrapping for designers/developers.I wasn’t able to find any women who fit my bootstrapping criteria for Schnitzelconf v1 — if you know someone I should invite to speak, PLEASE let me know! — but there were 5 women (10%) in my last Year of Hustle class and I know in my heart that they’re well on their way to speaking at one of my conferences in the future.Want to join me? Please take a quick peek at my new no-nonsense biz blog: http://unicornfree.com.

    1. Tereza

      My good friend, social media guru Lena West, bemoans what she terms “shrink it and pink it”. I love that phrase.

    2. Tereza

      I’ll be passing thru Vienna end of August. Will be in Bratislava about 5 days visiting family and possibly some devs

  48. Jared McKiernan

    not surprisingly, there seem to be significantly more women than usual posting comments today.


      Guess the post sparks a lot of interest, doesn’t it?For what its worth, I like your comment about helping complementary skills, missions, etc. finding each other!

  49. BrookeBF

    Awesome idea – and glad to see that there is an increasing focus on this. It was amazing reading your post how it seemed you were directly talking to ME.I got my experience in my 20’s, I tried for kids in my 30’s, and at age 40 (when the dr told me kids were out) I said screw it … and dove head first into entrepreneurship. I am loving it!But it is challenging work, and very male dominated. I’ve always been comfortable in male dominated industries – but when I am in the learning mode, it is sure helpful to have some women in the conversation. We communicate a little differently – and as someone new to entrepreneurship, that XX voice would be helpful.I haven’t read all 180 comments here – but the one that is on top is elizabeth stark who is looking to start something similar. Call me! Anyone doing this, I’d love to know about it.http://www.twitter.com/broohttp://www.recyclematch.com/

  50. Mark Essel

    I’ve got an idea inspired by Terezas.How about a ME Combinator where 36 year old (age doesn’t matter, mindset does) brand new would be hackers collaborate desperately to identify, build and execute something of impact before they buy the farm (talk at conferences).You have to have a long and frustrating career as an engineer so you can have a healthy fear of managers and meetings. Alternatively you can backdoor into the combinator by reading 100 of my posts and resisting the desire to punch meWho’s in?Ps: +(x) (that’s Poor man’s infinity) to Dave Pinsens hacker raising strategy.I would love to work with more hacker type women. Building is tough

    1. Jared McKiernan

      If you’re flexible about the age and engineering experience, then I’m totally in.I think 3 years as an actuarial analyst was probably enough to cement my natural anti-meeting/manager tendencies. Plus I am likely one of the younger people to have used Fortran.Kicking around a variety of ideas for web tools and apps for chefs/foodies/local producers, but not sure where to go with it- one thing’s for sure: farmer’s market vendors are generally terrible at tech.

    2. Dylan Salisbury

      I’m in! Would it be virtual or physically located?Maybe it should be appropriate for the 9 pm – 2 am work sprint. (KIB Combinator? KIB = “Kids in bed”)> How about a ME Combinator where 36 year old (age doesn’t matter, mindset does)…

  51. pennyherscher

    This is a huge issue – and one that is going in the wrong direction with the downturn in the venture industry.I am a serial entrepreneur in Silicon Valley. Took my last company (Simplex) public in 2001 – funded by Mayfield, am now doing my second (FirstRain) – funded by Oak. Turned 50 yesterday so I don’t qualify for the 40 something any more.VCs back people first and foremost. Most VCs back people they know, with a track record, or someone who fits the mold they know (male white/indian/chinese). So women are naturally a lower percentage because there are less of them in executive management in tech in the first place, so the VCs don’t get to know them before they are entrepreneurs. And there are fewer women with a track record to chose from.As the funds come down in size and number (which is now really starting to happen because the 10 year lookback is now bad) the few remaining large firms can pick and chose. There is less risk taking and more of the back-who-you-know behavior. So for a 40 something women the odds are against her before she opens her mouth about her idea.I was a lucky one. Exposed to the VC world early as a (rare) female tech exec and so able to bring a track record to the game – but even then my backers have been VCs who already knew me from before. I have been in countless (hundreds) of meetings with VCs and now know within 10 minutes whether I’ll get to a second conversation or not.There are some really great firms out there though who are gender blind – but they want to see a track record. But I can certainly advise you on who I think the good guys are.If I can help with your idea I will. I work in both Silicon Valley and NYC.Penny [email protected]

    1. fredwilson

      thanks for volunteering to help Penny

    2. Tereza

      +1Penny what a privilege to hear your perspective. Would love to meet you.

  52. Chuck Reynolds

    Why does it have to focus for women? What is the harm in just creating a conference, TED, Y Combinator style program that has all of the attributes that would appeal to women but open it up to anyone?These programs are great, but the “this is for women” badge (even if it is open to all) seems unnecessary. Create a program that will appeal to women but open it and market it to everyone and all benefit.

  53. Tracey Welson-Rossman

    We need to mentor girls in high school. Check out the stats and you will see they lose interest and opt out during these years.We are starting a program in the fall to help 6th-8th grade girls embrace technology, http://www.techgirlz.org. Our goal is to support their interest and mentor them as they go through high school.

    1. Tereza


    2. susan c

      Yes! I’ve been thinking about starting a similar program.I have coached start-ups in university entrepreneurship courses where 95% of the coaches are men. I recruited a few woment to coach, but they dropped out because there were too many men … it’s a self-reinforcing problem. I’m so glad to be a part of this conversation …

  54. jalak

    Hi Fred — great that you are addressing this topic. I last blogged about it in April: http://nothingventuredblog….I started the blog to highlight the different perspective that a woman (and a minority) can bring to venture capital and the board table. As a VC for the past 11 years and an entrepreneur before, I can say that I am encouraged by the increase in women that are seeking funding and the existence of more role models for them (including many women who have commented here and countless others who are out there coding and working on their businesses) — but we still have a way to go considering that women make up over 50% of college grads and will globally make up over 50% of the workforce.There are many groups in NYC that I have been actively involved with that are encouraging more tech entrepreneurship amongst women in NYC, including Girls In Tech, Astia, Springboard, Women 2.0. I have mentored, organized, moderated and participated on countless panels on the topic and have invited men (who make up a large percentage of my network) to attend but many do not. We need an inclusive conversation on the topic. One of them was held at Dogpatch and many of the 20 something male entrepreneurs there attended and commented that they found the conversation enlightening.Also — just as there is not one flavor of male entrepreneur there is not one flavor of female entrepreneur. So an XX combinator could serve a purpose for women at a certain point in their life, but we also need to encourage more women to apply for existing programs. AND more VCs also need to diversify their senior ranks so that different perspectives are shared. If nothing else, it makes business sense. I see more and more talented women starting businesses that are going to be impactful. Some of them come to me and say that the male investors they have talked to “don’t get the target market” — as marketers know, women control the pursestrings in many households and are avid users of technology. We need to nurture this talent and make sure that the very best are given the opportunity to get access to capital and networks — if that is the path they want.

    1. Donna Brewington White


    2. fredwilson

      when i saw an opportunity in 1995, i started a venture firm to go after itthat was entrepreneurship, although I’ve always seen myself as a VC

    3. Tereza


  55. Big Kate

    according to a young lady I met in the old parsonage (oxford) earlier today: the TED women’s conference will be in mid December. I cant remember the exact dates she gave, but it looks like it will be a 2 day affair presumably over a weekend. I hope to get a more accurate fix tomorrow from the TED oxford organisers

  56. pamslim

    (I am re-posting this since my comment from this morning didn’t make it live — hope it works!)What an incredibly rich discussion!I have two strong gut reactions to the idea and will dig into the model itself and provide thoughts on that later.First, I often resist the idea of a “women only” organization because in my experience that can isolate and cut off creativity required by cross-fertilization of age, gender, culture, race, personality and communication style. And I seethe at the proliferation of lists that come out that say “greatest entrepreneurs/marketers/experts in X area,” (which is often all men) which is then followed (apologetically) by a “And here is the WOMEN’S list of greatest entrepreneurs/marketers/experts in X area.” What I would love to see is more ways to integrate women into existing structures and organizations.That said, as a 43-year old mother of 2 toddlers and entrepreneur, there ARE different issues and opportunities faced by women in my demographic. Maybe we could follow the model of Daymond John, founder of FUBU (For Us By Us clothing line) who got tired of large clothing manufacturers disrespecting or not including his urban and mainly African-American community with their approach to sales and marketing. His massive success, ironically, pushed the “For Us” portion of his brand into communities of all colors and economic backgrounds because it was creative, well marketed and well-made.85 Broads is another organization which is for women, by women, but is very inclusive reaching out to men as well.I am coaching a female startup founder in her 30s right now and it is one of my greatest joys. She is masterful at the design, management and execution of her plans. She also doesn’t ascribe the “you have to stay up 22 hours a day, not shower and work like hell” model that often permeates 20-something startup culture. She has a product underway, on time and on budget, angel investors lined up, huge customers waiting for her product, and is enjoying every second of the experience. I would love to get her in front of other aspiring female startup founders, to talk about how she has approached her company.I would sign up in a heartbeat to coach female startup founders in an integrated effort with VCs and the technology community. Fred, Tereza and anyone else who is working on this project, please keep me in the loop!-Pamhttp://www.escapefromcubicl…

  57. paramendra

    I read all 226 comments. I wrote a reply blog post hours ago after just reading the first paragraph of the post: http://goo.gl/fb/xwd5p. But now I am tempted to write another post at my blog.Of all the blog posts at AVC I have ever participated in this easily has the most lively comments section. All the women came out of the woodworks to participate. These must be people who were reading the posts and the comments here before but so far had not participated.This post totally stands out. Thanks Fred and Tereza for creating this platform.Just like women raising children have different perspectives, different challenges, men who grew up elsewhere and are now in America have slightly different perspectives. Some challenges are different.I think it is very important to keep the conversation going.

    1. Peter Beddows

      Likewise; could not agree with your more paramendra. It has taken up quite some time but fortunately I had the time to devote here today because this has been so worthwhile. I’ve even revised my own blog as the day has progressed and new ideas came across. The most interesting, absorbing day in quite a while.Looking forward to hearing and learning more especially from both Fred and Tereza but also from other contributors here as this subject continues to unfold.

      1. paramendra

        The best comments thread at this blog ever.

    2. fredwilson

      yup, i’ve always said we need more women in this communitythe ones who are active, like Donna, Tereza, Shana (and a bunch more) are fantastic

      1. paramendra

        They sure are.

  58. Dave Chase

    An amazingly long and interesting comment thread. I was intrigued by the comments on the need for connections that came up a few times and was hopeful I’d find something on Sharpskirts to address the need a startup I am involved with has. That is, it’s a company that has as its target female head of household as they make the healthcare choices in most households (the company is focused on the huge opportunity created by the disruption in health insurance (Google “Health Insurance’s Bunker Buster” if that topic interests you). The company really wants to find some women in that demo (25, 35 or 45…it doesn’t matter) to drive product development.The startup-related networking events I participate in are heavily male as mentioned. I know full well there’s a “hidden” wellspring of the sort of talent we need (in Portland, OR ideally) but have had a heckuva time finding them. I even emailed that org Brad Feld is on the board of that encourages women in tech and unfortunately, it wasn’t very helpful. I’d love to tap the brainpower of this thread to ask the women how would one find that “hidden” female head of household in a place like Portland? Nothing against the young male hacker but they have no clue about the issues this company is addressing (at least I didn’t have a clue when I was a young single guy).Kudos to Fred for striking a chord!

    1. bfeld

      Dave – sorry NCWIT wasn’t helpful but happy to try again. Can you drop me an email – [email protected] – with a specific request and I’ll get it in front of Lucy Sanders, the CEO of NCWIT?

    2. Beth

      Hi Dave,I have a model for sustainable health care (i.e. a way to “blow it up and start over again). It doesn’t require legislation and it doesn’t violate antitrust law. :-)I understand health care financing, physician practices and billing, and have a novel approach to retail health care that resonates with head of household females.The MLR (medical loss ratio) will artificially inflate the price floor…this reinvents cost-based reimbursement that caused the unsustainable implosion of Medicare and the Balanced Budget Agreement. (My box of tissues is now empty from that disaster). See How MFN Clauses used in the Health Care Industry Unreasonably Restrain Trade under the Sherman Act. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov… (It pairs nicely with a glass of Pinot Noir and your pillow, in case you have been having trouble falling asleep…)BTW-do not pay for this article. I hold copyright on this, my work…don’t know who myLibrary or any other folks trying to charge a membership to read my article are, but I’ll send you a copy if you cannot get one and are interested. Funny what you find when you Google your own work! Just drop me a note at bethannwright with the at teachcompass and the dot com.To continue, the DPC (Direct Primary Care) is a red herring, purely illusory. It is MCO + cat coverage. This is essentially where primary care, internists are now–and it stinks.I have a better way. Would like to learn more about you and your efforts.A shout out to Tereza and Fred…you pair nicely with a glass Bordeaux (or two) and this very interesting conversation. Tereza, if you would like to share a virtual cup of tea or vino and chat about being 40 y/o female game-changers, I’m in. I am a Founder & CEO, inventor, lawyer, occupational therapist, education research project director, certified fraud examiner, mother, loving mate, go-to friend, volunteer, gardener, creative cook, novice tennis player…Best regards, Beth

  59. emilycchiu

    Fred – Thank you for writing this blog post. I love the idea of XX Combinator and think it’s great that you are a proponent of the idea / trying to get the support behind it.I am a woman in my late 20’s who is starting my first venture with my best friend, another woman in her 20’s…Even though we both come from backgrounds / super hard core jobs that are traditionally dominated by men (private equity / i-banking / M&A), the leap to entrepreneurship has been especially challenging, given that the environment is necessarily unstructured (and as a first time founder, you are typically going it alone / in a small group… and short of finding an incubator or shared entrepreneurial space, there is little “office” environment or formal mentor-ship).Beyond that, being an entrepreneur involves so much learning and challenge that can only be taught by doing / reaching out to other entrepreneurs who have gone through similar experiences and can share their learning. All this makes it especially important to create the support systems that entrepreneurs can feel comfortable reaching out to, because it’s maddening to try to do it without a support network.And I disagree with one of the comments: it’s not about affirmative action… it’s about creating more accessible support networks that cater to better enabling non-“traditional” demographics to thrive and be as successful as possible in the challenging field of entrepreneurship.I am all in favor of it and would love to be a part of something like this.

  60. Donna Brewington White

    Fred, you rock! Thanks for this post and the comments it has inspired. Much needed and you are exactly the right person to promote the convo for so many reasons.By the way, my future entrepreneur — Abigail — already knows you by name (as does most of our household). You may be hearing from her in about 10-15 years.

  61. e_irene

    Great post & enlightening comments. Thanks, Fred & Tereza!~

  62. kagilandam

    Totally a knock-out post and comments. Two-thumbs-up to Terreza.I have been following this blog for about an year … started commenting recently… and i have never seen female participation as much as this post… my sincere request to those female entrepreneurs … become go-getter (forget guys chasing gals…here u have to chase opportunities ) and participate in every knock-out sessions … not just one that concerns your gender.Good luck to you Terreza and your initiative in forming the team in NYC and spread it around… let me see when it reaches my town on the other side of the world!!! 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      right on agilandamgotta stick around for all the conversations


    So I started a list of the women coming together here: http://twitter.com/comradity/avc-women – If I missed someone, please @comradity and I’ll add you. PS invitation to anyone who posts, tweets, or cares about overcoming barriers to entrepreneurship for women and friends becoming startup leadersK—

  64. aldeka

    I think your XX Combinator proposal addresses an unmet need, and could be a very valuable program. But I have to point something out that your post takes for granted.Most (educated, middle- or upper-class) women in their 20s don’t have kids and are just as physically capable of sleeping on couches and eating ramen as the boys their age. But as you say, “Women who start businesses like to know what they’re doing, and be trained and experienced in it. That takes up our 20’s.” Another way to put this is that women at that age aren’t very confident in their skills and they aren’t willing to go out on a limb unless they are. This usually doesn’t happen until their 40s, so that’s where we see the peak of female entrepreneurship.Some guy just out of college is, all other things equal, just as qualified, or unqualified, as a female graduate. He’s got zero kids, relatively flexible physical needs, and is often highly mobile, just like most of his female peers at that stage. Yet somehow enough guys don’t feel that they have to know EVERYTHING or be recognized experts in their field before they dare to start a company. Sure, it’s often cockiness or delusion that makes the difference. But why can’t we feign (over)confidence just as well? The male-female confidence gap is a huge problem, and not just in entrepreneurship.Speaking as a 20-something female entrepreneurial type, what led me to identifying as such was realizing that even if I have low self-esteem and feel overwhelmed or incompetent, this is the time in my life when I can afford to take risks. And it’s not like the dang guys have any idea what they’re doing, either, and somehow they (sometimes) succeed anyway… 🙂

    1. Tereza

      You can do some things in your 20’s that get way harder to do later. If you’re inclined, do them NOW!!!

    2. Susan C

      Yes! do i tnow … and you’ll be even more confident to do it again later … the best training for starting a business is starting a business!

  65. Ask

    I agree we need more women in this space. I understand the need to focus on an area – ie web/bio technoloy/cloud/SAS, etc. But if we are trying to focus a fund on male/female are we missing the key ingredient – which is the quality of the idea!?

    1. Ask

      update to my comment above! It would be different if we are focusing on products or services that target women!

  66. Yael

    I agree with Tereza’s post, but think the problem extends to even younger women than Tereza implies and goes beyond the lack of coding ability of many women. The issue stems from some mythical image of a successful entrepreneur, which women in their 30s and 40s could never fit:- “2 guys in a garage” focus: You should have nothing in your life that matters to you except your idea and your company. If you have any intention to dedicate time to family, a hobby or anything that is not in some way related to your startup, no one believes you can really succeed.- An MBA destroys value: As Guy Kawasaki puts it in his VCAT test, subtract 5 points for an MBA, another 5 for management consulting experience. If you have an MBA – oh no, your thinking is so structured you’ll never be able to adapt to the realities of a startup or come up with truly innovative ideas.- “Save the world” attitude: If you’re too old and cynical to believe you’ll take over the world, and “just” want to make it a better place, you can’t start the next Google or Facebook.The last 2 issues are not limited to women, they apply to many guys past their 20s as well.I’m a 30-something woman entrepreneur who happens to be a software engineer, an MBA and a former management consultant. Am I willing to work hard and make sacrifices for my company’s success? Of course, in fact I’d be bored to tears working 9-5. Am I willing to give up any semblance of a personal life for the next 5 years for my company? No, sorry, I’m old enough to know that professional success is one of the most important things in life, but it’s not THE most important.The thousands of blogs, articles and books people in the field write rarely discuss why women in their 30s and 40s could make a greater contribution to a startup working 20% less than your average 24-year coder with no experience. That fancy MBA and top-tier consulting firm didn’t teach me everything I need to know to run a startup, but they did teach me really valuable lessons that apply to a startup just as they do to a Fortune 100 company (e.g. marketing, branding, pricing etc.). As Fred said, people in their 20s don’t have the same ideas as people in their 40s, but as far as I can tell the industry tends to exalt the ideas of the 20-year olds. The access to resources and connections people in their 30s or 40s have in their chosen field, that people in their early 20s don’t, is rarely considered.A selective “XX-combinator” program for women would be a good step towards solving the perception problem in the industry that a woman in her 30s or 40s will not add the same (or more) value to a company that a guy in his 20s will, just by virtue of the number of hours she’s willing to work, the sacrifices she’s willing to make in her personal life, or the “stodginess” of her thinking which barres her from seeing the truly innovative directions her company could take in its quest to save the world. Until people accept the image of two 30- or 40-somethings working in their living room over salads and diet cokes as a possible model for entrepreneurship, there won’t be as many women entrepreneurs as there should be. I would love to be part of any such initiative, so if there’s a group assembling around it please count me in.


      Yael, I think you may be onto something here. But it sounds like this is more of an age and experience issue than a gender issue.Makes me think of the Kathy Bates scene from Fried Green Tomatoes when young girls in a small car beat Kathy Bates out of a parking space and yell “face it lady, we’re younger and faster” and Kathy Bates rams their little car out of the spot with her giant car and retorts “Face it girls. I’m older and have more insurance”. (Switch the gender and the metaphor still works)This “the young guys have the ‘save the world’ inspiration to develop innovative ideas vs. older, experienced folks just want to ‘make it a better place'”does sound a like code for “willing to work ridiculous hours for nothing to very little” vs. “knows how to make something better and has the connections to do it efficiently but wants too much money for that ‘insurance'”.Just as the two young guys in the garage is a myth, so to is it a myth that older entrepreneurs are too stodgy to innovate. I’ve had the luxury to be able to focus on how to make something better and do not begrudge my peers who have had to eek in some time and attention to innovate while maintaining cashflow in a traditional way. I don’t consider them stodgy. I just think it is virtually impossible to do both very effectively.K–

      1. Yael

        Thanks for the thoughtful reply K. I completely agree that the age and experience issue affects both genders, as I said before. However, I do think it impacts women more than men for 2 reasons:- My personal observation (as Tereza suggested) is that women tend to become entrepreneurs later in life than men, so the age/experience bias would affect women more significantly on average- The scarcity of women in the industry certainly doesn’t help. Alexis Maybank from the Gilt Groupe recently commented in a WSJ interview: “It’s an old boy’s network, and that’s intimidating for a lot of women”.I don’t think the ‘save the world’ vs. ‘make it a better place’ is code for the work hours / payment balance you expect. I think the same level of passion and belief in an idea translates to different things at different ages and levels of experience – at 20 you might be more idealistic and blind to the difficulties in making your idea a reality, whereas at 30 or 40 you’re a bit more realistic and aware of the hurdles on the way.I agree that maintaining cash flow increases in importance as people get older (and the opportunity cost is higher), and affects risk tolerance. All I want is for people who wish to become entrepreneurs and are willing to take the risk to be given an equal chance regardless of age, experience or gender, and in the current environment I don’t think that’s the case.

        1. COMRADITY

          Quoting @UniqueYael “All I want is for people who wish to become entrepreneurs and are willing to take the risk to be given an equal chance regardless of age, experience or gender, and in the current environment . . .”Who could disagree with this as a mission! Brilliant.K-

          1. Tereza


    2. Tereza

      “Until people accept the image of two 30- or 40-somethings working in their living room over salads and diet cokes as a possible model for entrepreneurship, there won’t be as many women entrepreneurs as there should be.”Love that!+1

    1. fredwilson

      i am in touch with astia as a result of this post and seeing what i can dofor them now

    1. Tereza

      I am a big fan of Astia and have participated in some of their events.They would be an important partner, but their mission is a little different.I think an entrepreneur whose product is still in concept stage or pre-release….it’s that conversion from concept to release that is critical and underserved.Astia is fantastic if you have your beta or MVP — they great support positioning you for funding and introducing you to their network. But those at concept stage aren’t quite ready for the best of Astia, in my opinion.

  67. Jesse Nahan

    For both women and men over 35, I’d recommend the Founder Institute program (http://www.founderinstitute.com). I was accepted into this summer’s program in Boston and the group is about 1/3rd women. Since this is my 3rd startup, Founder Institute suits me much better than an incubator (just my personal preference.) The mentors have been terrific and detailed. I can only talk for my working group, but we’ve all gotten a lot out of working together even in these first few weeks.A woman who was in the first Founder Institute program has a useful post here about her experience: http://www.mediamum.net/201

  68. Stacey Kannenberg

    Thank you Fred for another great post and to Tereza for inspiring me to want to share! I am a serial woman entrepreneur, started my first company at 40, at home, around my kids and now am gearing up to launch my second in the exact same manner. I am launching a virtual women media company leveraging all the things I have learned in the last 6 years of running my first company, my vast corporate world experience, existing relationships with brands and leveraging a vertical for all those women solo entrepreneurs that I already love and who love me!!There are thousands and thousands of woman entrepreneurs that are doing it right and are soaring under the radar and have not immersed themselves in the world of VC so they don’t know about you nor you them. They are members of The Mom Entrepreneur, Role Mommy, BlogHer, Mom Central, Moms in Business, The Mogul Mom, Make Mine a Million, Mom Millionaires, Ladies that Launch, Blue Suit Mom and so many more. Sadly either they are still trying to figure it out; or so successful that YOU find them; or haven’t even thought about funding because they feel intimated, especially the solo entrepreneur and are only waiting for one of us, namely me, to figure it out and share. Collaboration and networking is what has gotten many of us this far. Some aren’t sure that they want to get much bigger because they like working at home around their family or they are not sure they want to be in the media spotlight 24/7.To be frank I have only just started to immerse myself in the world of funding so I can find the right investor team for my business. I have elected that I want to stay with investors in my home state and have already started pitching. Last week I had my first face-to-face pitch. I thought they might be the right team for me because they have the word “Silicone” in their brand name, even though we are far removed from that valley! They are not immersed in the world of high tech at all…honestly I was shocked that they don’t know the power of a blog or why someone should be on twitter, forget about Chris Brogan, Seth Godin, Paul Gillin it’s a wasted breathe and sorry Fred – they don’t even know why they should be following you nor have they kept up on or seem to care about the latest trending in acquisitions from the greats, like Apple, Google, Microsoft. Sadly, I walked away thinking they need me more than I need them. This group was made up of men in their 50’s and 60’s. As I prepare for my second meeting with them, I am more convinced that it isn’t so much a man versus woman thing, a young against old, or even a digital native over “just not that into tech savvy” as much as it is about complacency, voice and vision! When you have finally decide to “just do it yourself because everyone else isn’t getting it right” and find your voice to do it in a way in which others see the vision; that’s when innovation and change happen.Tereza is right about the evolution of women and entrepreneurship. I also need to add that many like me find their voice in the 40’s. Those that finally move do so because they are tired of watching everyone else do it the wrong way and see that no one else is taking the initiative to do it the right way. They finally understand that they don’t need to know everything, like tech basics, but really just need to have all the right people available on the team to fill in the blanks to get them to next level, using past mistakes of others to chart the future successes of tomorrow! Seriously, if you are hungry enough, you will find your own food and find a way to survive. You will fill up on all the free things, like Fred’s blog and Shankman’s media leads that will make you stronger, smarter and thriving!So I go back to the basics, continue to drool over Fred’s posts. It is always beyond strange that his posts push me in the right direction at the time when I am on the brink of that crossroad topic. And when he name drops it’s another opportunity for me to either do some research or make that connection to become even more knowledgeable. If I want funding a plane ride away, he has already given me the clues and even names for me to open those doors within his blogs.Enter Tereza, who speaks my language and echoes my thoughts as well. She is right!! I recently was angry about a VC conference that would have been perfect for me to attend; billed for emerging platforms and digital media for women – right up my alley – sponsored by a venture capital company with all the people coming to one place who will understand my business plan inside and out – right? WRONG!! I have to pay $50 to enter, give them my great digital media or immerging platform idea and if selected based on my great idea, I get the honor of having to pay an additional $1000 participation fee without the additional expenses of my travel and hotel to meet these really smart VC’s in the area of women media!!! How sad is that? In order to level the playing field of women entrepreneurship it has already started with this blog and all these comments. But this conversation needs to continue up and down the food chain to change at investment and trickle down to innovation.It is also extremely obvious to me why our nation is still in a recession…many in charge of giving out the funding have become complacent, drunk on power, with a full belly, content and waiting for the next big idea to hit them over the head or those, unlike me, willing to PAY to be WORTHY enough for them to notice! If anything this post has made me add another vertical to our existing business plan, VC and Angel investment to help others on our same path! Thanks Fred and all the other regular contributors to this blog post – your wisdom is with me inside these boardrooms and at the white board as I create and launch my new vision!

    1. Tereza


  69. Lisasuennen

    Great idea…would like to see a similar mentoring/training program for female VCs, who are probably key to the success of female entrepreneurs. I teach a class in healthcare venture capital at UC Berkeley where the students are half female, half male, but yet the VC mix never seems to change much from 90% male/10% female, alas. There are several impromptu women’s VC social groups, but nothing like a formalized mentoring/training program that I have seen. Has anyone else?

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Personally, have not seen this but LIKE, LIKE, LIKE the idea!

  70. Susan C

    I’ve enjoyed reading this thread … and want to add a few thoughts.While it would be great to encourage more 40 something women to start businesses, it will be hard – for many of the reasons discussed here. I’d like to challenge the idea that 20 something women don’t start businesses. The only thing we know about entrepreneurs is that people who have had an entrepreneurial experience at a young age (like high school) are more likely to be entrepreneurs as adults. What can we do to encourage more High School and College age women to start businesses? Can the 40 something women help mentor these younger girls to be future entrepreneurs?Love the discussions about connecting. Finding partners with complementary skills is critical at any age, and for all genders.

    1. Tereza

      Susan I think you’re right. We need both.

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Yes! Mentoring is critical as is exposure. I wonder how many people become entrepreneurs without seeing this modeled somewhere in their lives? I’m guessing not many. So, yes!

  71. svosmek

    I am thrilled to see this conversation – something really has changed in the marketplace since Astia was founded 11 years ago as the first incubator for women-led high growth start-ups by Cate Muther, the former CMO of Cisco. (I am the current CEO and have been since 2007). Thank you for the conversation, Tereza.Today we are no longer a physical space, and we now serve entrepreneurs via a community and program in Silicon Valley, New York, London and Bangalore – and we connect that community so that we have become a global platform for our client entrepreneurs. Our offering is identical in each market – and our results are the same (greater than 60% of the Astia clients achieve funding or an exit within one year of joining – and we do not have a fund).I say all of this because along the way we have learned some things – and evolved as a result of community and client feedback, as well as key research findings:Research tells us that across all of the markets we serve:1) Still today, men and women network in separate business networks. It is self-evident why this creates an especially pointed challenge in the venture space where relationships are key to the investment model and 95% of VCs are men.2) Women today still self assess and consequently aspire differently than men. Men getting a C in calculus will perceive that have passed; women are inclined to see that same C as a failure. This plays out in entrepreneurship by many women understating their abilities and the market potential of their businesses.At Astia we have constructed two intentional elements to address this research.1) We are NOT a woman’s network. This work must be done in an inclusive environment that has both men and women present. Currently nearly 50% of Astia Advisors are men.2) Women are more likely to look to that network to endorse or validate and invest in their business choices or decisions (see the latest Kauffman research “Anatomy of an Entrepreneur” that shows that the only difference between successful male and female high-growth entrepreneurs was how they used their networks.) Astia provides access to a network that not only provides expertise, but encouragement and validation along the way.And, I wanted to highlight that our program in NYC is this week: http://www.astia.org/conten…I hope this does not sound too much like an add for Astia. I shared in the interest of sharing our learnings – not because I see us as the only solution. I consider all that we do open sources and welcome a robust conversation to ensure that we are always innovating what we offer the entrepreneurs we server.Cheers,SharonRead more: http://www.businessinsider….

  72. the next women

    Let’s make a list of all the women entrepreneur focused programs and funds around: My start:Astia.org Doing it RIight Programme, SF, NY, London, India, for women entrepreneurs who seek seed/VC fundingWomen 2.0 Labs (SF); women startup incubator programmeThe NextWomen Mentoring Programme /: European 1 month, 3 months through 12 month programme connecting international serial tech entrepreneurs with women entrepreneurs to launch/grow business/seek fundingChina Women Incubator: http://www.idisc.net/en/Incubator.13.htmlGolden Seeds: Angel Network that mentors women-led companiesAspire Fund: UK Matching Fund for early stage women led companies (no programme)Juneau Private Equity: Dutch Fund for existing SME’sTrapezia Fund for women led companies

    1. Tereza

      Great idea, Simone. Your site can be a great aggregator for that information.Also I’d be interested, either in that list or a separate one, the “female”- and “parent”-friendly ones.I’d like to know the co-ed ones that are eager to help.This could be demonstrated by % of female participants, % female managing partners, % portfolio companies, and also how much they’ve helped support via public discourse and sponsorship. (e.g. USV has Fred who shined a light on the issue in a big way; FRC has a female partner in SF, etc).Maybe also Strategics who have provided seed funding to women and strategics who have acquired.Then we could steer our efforts toasted the ones more likely to say yes.Let the metrics do the talking.

  73. Jennifer McFadden

    Adding to the conversation, a webcast from The Berkman Center on the lack of women and minorities in entrepreneurship. Livestreaming now, but will be posted later.Entrepreneurship: where are all the women and minorities? by Vivek Wadhwahttp://cyber.law.harvard.ed…

  74. Irina Patterson

    Hi Fred,RE: your comment: – if you get serious about this, come see me. i’d like to discuss your ideas with you.We are very serious about the issue of under-served entrepreneurs. We are ready to discuss our ideas with you.We also want to interview you, Fred, for our series on seed and angel investors. We already interviewed Mike Maples, Jeff Clavier and many others: http://www.sramanamitra.com…I e-mailed you already, so when you have a chance, please respond. I can also be reached at @mylifeandart (Twitter) Thank you. — Irina

  75. Anne Mai Bertelsen

    This is such a great and timely conversation. The Women’s Chamber of Commerce just released a report (http://www.uswcc.org/market… that showed while women own almost 8 million businesses (almost 29% of all US businesses), they command less than 4% of all revenues.Growing up, I never aspired to be an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship happened by accident. As a mother of three, I was bored in corporate America and longed to have the intellectual stimulation from my pre-motherhood political days. So, I started my business in my late 30s for both increased intellectual challenges and a better work/family life balance. Technology, and it’s role in my business, didn’t come til later. And, I think in large measure because I had limited exposure to how technology could solve my business problem. Later this summer, I am keeping my fingers crossed on positive news of funding for an idea I have been developing for the better part of this year.As solutions are thought through of how to encourage and support more women, I think its important to help women see the potential of technology for their business — and who the relevant players are in that space. I had the good fortune of getting advice and suggestions from knowledgeable folks to help me identify a technology partner. Without that partner, I couldn’t have gotten my idea out of my head and onto paper.

  76. panterosa,

    I think the problem of getting more women to be successful in the entrepreneurial field is not only the combination of technical education and partnering, but added to the heavy demands of their ‘lifestage’ as Tereza calls it, along with the inflexibility of the field/workplace environment they enter, which then asks them to conform to work schedules which don’t balance with other needs. How can you be asked to give more at home and on the job, and not have something give? And learn to code? Though women are hungry to get out and have fulfilling work we can’t be asked to be doing extra on every front without support.I think often our collective and personal expectations of women, who come into their own and flourish when they have children, are unrealistic and I still am appalled we have not tipped this apple cart over yet. I mentioned this on Tereza’s blog. We have some insidious double standards for men and women, we have the ‘superwoman’ image which is so fraught with peril, and we have less women entrepreneurs which simply needs to be reversed because the imbalance it creates is not only a wasted economic opportunity, but because the balance point is incorrect and we personally and as society can no longer afford the the heaviness of this misplaced fulcrum in our work place and personal lives.Tereza and Fred have put this debate front and center here, to overwhelming response, showing the timeliness and a sense of relief of debate and problem solving. Let’s hope this infuses the momentous energy needed to push this apple cart over for good.I’ve read avc for half a year and I am only too excited that it would engage in this important issue and really make a difference. It is quite inspiring. Thanks Tereza and Fred for you passion.

  77. Tereza

    Hey Fred — could you and I touch base on this directly? I’ve been approached by many, I’m sure you have too. Want to coordinate efforts and not lose momentum…

  78. Beatrice Pang

    The reasons behind the question “Why aren’t there more women entrepreneurs” is much more complicated and difficult to change than XX Combinator. As a career woman, we’ve had many such discussions at business school. To me, the reason is fundamentally how men and women attract each other. In one sentence, success, wealth and power are a man’s biggest asset to be attractive to women; whereas for women, becoming a tech entrepreneur means more stress, aging faster, and less money to buy fashion or beauty.It’s sex and it’s a very difficult dynamic to change. As a woman tech entrepreneur, I’m all for ways to encourage more women to become entrepreneurs. I think media can do more to change perceptions than XX Combinator. Here’s my blog to further explain my opinion: http://bit.ly/deUIaO

    1. Tereza

      Beatrice thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.I’m not sure I buy the ‘women don’t do tech entrepreneurship because it ages them faster’ argument.Parenting is stressful and it’s given me a lot more wrinkles and gray hairs than any of my startups or other professional experience. Work is what I do to relax!Just wondering, do you have children?As I’ve spoken to many people, one of the great dividers is children/no children, regardless of gender.Much of my personal inspiration for The original XX Combinator piece is that I do have children and couldn’t apply to the program because I can’t leave my family for three months.Also I’ve met dads or older men who feel they’re struggling for having “aged out” of the young entrepreneur prototype.There are a lot of businesses serving markets of people that have children and generally speaking other parents understand them better than non-parents. And that’s money being left on the table.Parents and women are not niche markets.

      1. Beatrice Pang

        Tereza, no I don’t have children yet. My opinion can be biased from a younger entrepreneur’s perspective. I’m writing from my own interactions with people of my age – 20s to early 30s. I just finished MBA from Stanford. Even though the school is famous for entrepreneurship, very few women graduates here actually choose to pursue entrepreneurship. Even more sadly, I heard that 50-60% of women who graduated with MBA here 10 years ago have left workforce altogether. That touches my second point. Women are less expected by society to be successful in career. It doesn’t make them more attractive overall. My theory is that sex and societal judgments all play a significant role behind people’s motivations. Fundamentally, most of them are quite content with a well-paid job and are probably less risk-taking than the male classmates. My observation has been that they are more interested in maintaining an attractive overall image and being a successful entrepreneur doesn’t buy them that many points than having already a successful career.

        1. Tereza

          Beatrice — funny, you just popped up on my Facebook via your friend Ozge. I hired Ozge at her first job out of Harvard and a couple years later wrote recos for her b-school apps many years ago. Haven’t heard from her in ages. Glad to see she’s doing well and what a small world it is. I presume you worked together at MS.Think about the mom angle. I personally did not attribute a ton of credence to male/female issues in business until I had children. And I was certain they would never happen to me, that I was different. Having kids opened up a whole world of challenges which are tangible, not esoteric. The totality of the issue cannot be addressed without considering weighty issues like childcare etc.

          1. Beatrice Pang

            Tereza, it’s indeed a small world! I just attended Ozge’s wedding in Istanbul. She’s one of my best friends!You bring up a very strong point from the mom angle, which I haven’t experienced yet. I have to say that I feel a stronger urge to do a startup right now, before I have children. I do also feel that for me as a woman, the time to do startup seems more limited. I don’t know what biologically will happen to a woman after she’s had a baby. Maybe her whole life’s priority shifts. I feel that men, who really want to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams, can afford to wait longer because they can still make babies in their forties or even fifties more easily than women!I think you bring up a very practical point, but my reasoning is more around fundamental motivations which are often true based on my observation of people around me.

          2. Beatrice Pang

            By the way, I wrote a follow up blog on what it takes to make a woman entrepreneur to provide more complete thoughts. http://bit.ly/dr2UB7Would love to get your thoughts, Tereza. Again, nice to “meet” you!

  79. fredwilson

    I am a huge fan of coworking spaces charlie. I see them cropping up all over the place and its hugely valuable

  80. Tereza

    Wow that means a lot coming from you, Charlie. You made my day.In truth we’re just about out of the incubator stage. Much core tech is done and for market tactics reasons are holding back release but it is planned. And we have some money in the door. So before long the markeplace will speak.But — and my motivation for this is — it was incredibly inefficient, time-consuming and it was also more expensive then for the younger chicks. And speed to market (or lack thereof) means everything in this game.It’s amazing the brainpower when I have a beer with my kids’ friends moms or at school pickup/dropoff.There is a lot more talent with my profile and I’d like to help them get out to market faster.

  81. reece

    along this line of thinking, i believe schools are under-utilized as co-working spaces.many universities have such great infrastructure, but so many classrooms sit dormant most of the day.it’s been a goal of mine to someday go back to Brown U. and teach what i’ve learned while seeding startups, but why wait until i’m successful enough for that?so, i’m now convincing the Brown Entrepreneurship Program to transform their $50k business plan competition into a seed program similar to YC or TechStars.students will be able to build their ideas over the summer at Brown and we can leverage the infrastructure at the school to keep costs down.Brown is such a creative place, but there’s a stigma about ‘business’ and we want to break that down so people can start building companies sooner.

  82. PhilipSugar

    That’s great Charlie, I have to come see it. I’d like to see the before and after.I agree with your thoughts.The “formal” technology parks at least around here just don’t have the right feel, I think its because you have a formal administration….nothing against that but just not the right feel.I think its great that you are not limiting just to “high tech”I’ve always said I want to start a unglamorous low tech business so instead of battling with all the super smart talented people hanging out here I can fight it out with the unwashed masses.I just can’t seem to get around to it no different than my dream to take a month off between businesses. The three times I’ve made changes I’ve been honoring the commitment I made to the new owners while working full time at the new gig.

  83. maverickny

    Love those ideas, Charlie! Shared workspaces and resources is definitely the way to go for small start-ups.Fred and Tereza, the post and idea fascinate me. I’m one of those 40 something women entrepreneurs who came into it late. For now, like Charlie, two of us work out of my home office on the top floor of the house, with the idea of eventually making enough money from the first consulting business to fund the next one. It erratic, challenging, boring, exciting and fun all at the same time.The new idea I want to raise money for is complementary with the current one, but different. We want to find coders and programmers who can help us build text analytics and semantic web tools specifically for the pharma and biotech industry because the current tools are not good enough. The need is there and we have the industry expertise to apply insights it if we can build the data gathering tools.At college, I used to code and loved it, writing the first computerised football (soccer) notation system that was used to analyse patterns of play in the ’86 World Cup… but that was 20 years ago and I’ve long forgotten how to code! My original idea was to learn R on R or Python and do it myself, but that hasn’t happened as one becomes more business focused and less inclined to code all night anymore. Ah the vanity of the female 40’s!Our biggest challenge (and I suspect for many other small entrepreneurs with niche ideas) is finding the time to create the business plan, find the coders, space, funding, advice, the whole caboodle all while working 14 hour days on the existing consulting business to meet more basic needs. The current economic climate is tough, as we all know, but finding credit seems near nigh impossible. No doubt we’ll figure out some solutions if the desire is strong enough.You go, Tereza! It’s inspiring to know that there are other women entrepreneurs out there and one isn’t quite the only nudist on the late shift in the wee hours 😉

  84. shagarieNYC

    “My next office is likely to be an old empty warehouse with a decent office (just nailing down the details). After a bit of cleaning/teardown, I’ll invite first-time entrepreneurs to share the space. I don’t care if they are into tech, food products, services, whatever–if they need space and some mentoring, they can sign up and share the resources” — WELL SAID CHARLIE.I agree with you whole heartedly and believe there are also additional benefits to be had from such a diverse group working under the same roof… To borrow from the words of Andrew Carneige: I believe success can be attained in any branch of human labor.

  85. ShanaC

    Thanks Charlie!

  86. ShanaC

    dude- it says a lot that there is a push for me to found and i am not because of a lot of feeling expressed by here. The mentorship is critical.

  87. Jennifer McFadden

    You should take a look at the incubator at Yale. Yale has some of the same issues that Brown will face as they look to build an incubator–smaller student body, more of a focus on traditional liberal arts than engineering (although this is beginning to change at Yale), smaller sized city without a huge pool of tech talent (although this might be a bit better in Providence b/c of RISD), and an administration that might initially be wary of adopting the institutional mindset that is necessary to support an initiative like this (Ivy’s tend to be fairly protective of their liberal arts heritage and institutional missions). Reach out to Jim Boyle ([email protected]) from Yale–he has done a great job navigating some of these issues and generating the institutional buy-in.

  88. ShanaC

    Better that the U of C, they have a stock pitching contest.I want to say Liberal arts heritages are not a bad thing at all. It does disturb me some days that I have gone up to some people and them asked “Who used the word Media in the contemporary sense that we are using it first?” and they don’t know. (A: Marshall McLuhan) (not true of everyone) Plato has a brief discussion about regulating the Arts (particularly music and poetry) because they are inaccurate in the Republic, and Foucault eerily talks of those who have power have control of vast amounts of information and information processing.I would run that discussion group in NY (and no I would not make everyone read the entire book, I think people would kill me) I just need to go through what I have, and also go through lists of contemporary scholarship as well. It would answer a lot of questions for a lot of people about “why am I building this, does it really solve a problem” It gives you some ground to think upon.

  89. ShanaC

    what was the name of the book???????????

  90. Tereza

    charlie you should feel free to steal shamelessly! go for it!

  91. ShanaC

    I’m in the learning stage and I want to be able to bug other people. I don’t want to be surrounded by screens. Though the more I code, the more I realize I need a bigger screen.Interestingly, my mother, a self taught computer programmer (so yes, all of this is possible), still has yet to do the big screen thing. She also likes coding on a laptop in case she needs to go somewhere.I’m doing Ruby now. If I want a statically typed language, it will be either Processing, Java, or C. C++ as you so accurately described it, is like touching a hot stove. KISS when it comes to languages.I do know based on everyone talking to me, there is an immense drive for me to learn Javascript, as there is a total shortage of people who can do frontend work that works. (They don’t realize that the reason is is that the stuff is a pain.)

  92. paramendra

    That’s what I was thinking. When was the last time AVC had a comments section this robust? And look at all those first time commenters, so many of them.

  93. canadajulie01

    This is one of the best – and most useful to me personally – discussions I have seen here. Would be great to have a Meetup of this group of people who have made comments in NYC to continue the conversation, create pairing opps, find ways to share space, energy, ideas now (the dining room table that seats 8 is as good a starting place as any!), etc.

  94. fredwilson

    i guess i’ll do more of that

  95. paramendra

    “Who used the word Media in the contemporary sense that we are using it first?”Pass. I don’t know.

  96. ShanaC

    I gave the answer……

  97. jessicamah

    I always thought a functional programming language like Scheme/Python would be better to start… kind of more difficult to go backwards once you’re too acquainted with procedural languages.


    Thanks Pemo, reflecting the fact that the support here is not just from women, I changed the name to AVC women and friends. So here’s the updated link: http://twitter.com/comradit