Comments: Women 2.0 Gets It So Wrong

I think there is a bit of a fascination and an assumption with youth in the valley - not always one that I think is entirely a good thing.

I'm a man and haven't been actively seeking VC funding for my current company, so my experiences may vary a bit - but I'm extremely glad that my co-founder and partner is well over 35 - in fact he has decades of business experience and has been programming for over 30 years (of course, he like I learned to program at a very, very young age). Between us we actually probably have over 50 years of programming and business experience. (I'm 32 myself - but learned to program when I was 8, been on the Internet since 1991)

And that experience - tempered with staying current with technology and social and business trends - is invaluable.

Whether you are a man OR a woman.

But looking at the business plan, pitch competitions, even a lot of the media coverage of startups here in the valley - it is dominated by a focus on "how young can you be to start a company" - ignoring that in many cases young founders have had early hires and/or mentors (even co-founders) who did have deep experience.

I also would predict that some of the best, most successful businesses in the coming decades will be those businesses that reach out to a non-youth demographic - my 85+ year old grandmother for example is online every day - mostly to play bridge but as her mobility diminishes the power to stay in active, social contact with friends - new and old is a powerful one (and she, like many elderly will pay for services that add value to her life).

Shannon

Posted by Shannon Clark at March 26, 2007 02:45 PM

Hi Mary,

I remember you from the Women 2.0 Conference last year. I'm sorry that you feel this way about the upcoming Business Challenge. Thank you for your constructive comments about our age limit.

Women 2.0 have committed ourselves to promoting the growth of young women in entrepreneurship because we noticed the need for support and resources for this segment and because we (the co-founders) happen to be in it. We responded to a need in the market - like true entrepreneurs!

When assessing the need in the market, we came across a number of organizations such as the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, the Women's Technology Cluster, the eWomen Network, and Ladies Who Launch. When I personally started feeling the entrepreneurial itch living in the Silicon Valley, I explored a lot of these women's group but didn't see one oriented toward the twentysomething young professional crowd. I felt so *young* and didn't have much of a nerve to join these accomplished groups, nor did I feel at home at Stanford because I had already graduated. I was at my first job out of college in the Silicon Valley, and with three friends in exactly the same position, we started mobilizing the Women 2.0 community.

We have been asked a few times why don't we directly address the empty-nested, the second-career woman, etc. We would love to, but Women 2.0 already takes so much time and energy to execute and we would love to partner with another grassroot organization which we hope will arise to meet that challenge - fighting ageism and fostering entrepreneurship in working professionals who are tired of the 9-5.

However, most of the people we meet who are in our situation and who respond most enthusiastically to our mission are those who joined our mailing list and show up to events - women under 35. We have all kinds show up, and we warmly welcome everyone.

But we have to state a mission and a niche - it distinguishes us from the women's entrepeneurship and business organizations.

I personally had thought that putting in an age requirement of sorts would encourage the more experienced, older entrepreneur to look for young talent to bring on board. After all, a team of up to four individual only has to at least 50% females under 35. I'm not a fan of ageism at all and I thought this was a reasonable deduction.

I hope this explains where we're coming from and that you will continue to support Women 2.0. If I weren't in the cohort that I am in, I don't know if I would feel the same way as you. We are young and inexperienced and probably a bit naive, sure. We're bound to make some faux pas along the way, and thank you for voicing your opinion about our decisions to help us grow wiser.

~ang*e

Angie Chang
Women 2.0 Coordinator
www.women2.org

Posted by Angie Chang at March 26, 2007 09:15 PM

Hi Angie,
I think the barrier is more about first timers and their needing help getting going.

If you want to ask that at least half of any pitch team be first time women entrepreuneurs, great.

Much better than age discrimination.

mary

Posted by mary hodder at March 26, 2007 09:34 PM

You've got It. There is no 2.0 in this story.
Because the web is not a "unique" software. Its a ecosystem! Like earth.

Posted by Alan at April 9, 2007 06:50 AM