This year's line up of inspiring speakers included: Laura Behrens-Wu · Co-Founder & CEO, Shippo, Morgan DeBaun · Co-Founder & CEO, Blavity, Diane Greene · Senior Vice President, Google Cloud, Elizabeth Iorns · Co-Founder & CEO, Science Exchange, Erika Jensen · Co-Founder, The Flex Company, Aileen Lee · Founder & Partner, Cowboy Ventures, Avni Patel Thompson · Co-founder & CEO, Poppy, Vanessa Torrivilla · Co-founder & Chief Creative Officer, Goldbely, Padmasree Warrior · CEO and Chief, Development Officer, NIO USA, Emily Weiss · Founder & CEO, Glossier, Adora Cheung, Partner Y Combinator.
If you get a chance to go see Adora Cheung or Diane Greene talk, do! Adora was hilarious and they both had great lessons. The fundraising panel was informative. Aileen Lee provided an overview into the cut throat world of venture capital.
Among her suggestions were:
1) Be a good storyteller, and don’t fret if storytelling doesn’t come naturally to you. “If you are not a great storyteller, you can become one. It’s just a matter of feedback and practice.”
2) Each story has basic but important elements. Make sure you include these, beginning with:
a) what the mission and vision is of your company, to
b) how big the market is that you are chasing, to
c) the problem that you are trying to solve, to
d) who is on your team and why they are relevant, to
e) the product that you’ve built, to
f) what kind of traction or feedback you’ve received from the market, to
g) what your economic model looks like, to
3) Remember that your narrative should also include your personal story and why you’re the best person to be starting your company right now.
4) Be confident, but don’t stretch. “If you’re a little too arrogant or you puff things up a little too much, [male investors] will ding you for being an exaggerator.”
5) Don’t be “too shy. ”The advice may make you cringe, but women have to walk a fine line here, she noted. “Guys,” noted Lee, “can get away with [being shy]. It’s like, ‘Oh, he’s just an introvert.’ ” Unfairly, women who are too quiet may face a bigger upward battle, she suggested.
6) Know your numbers. Frustratingly, women have to work twice as hard to convince men that they are qualitative, she noted, adding that “if someone asks you, ‘What’s the CAGR, what’s the LTV, what are the margins, what’s the revenue plan for next year,’ just know it. Practice it.”
7) Be good at follow-up. As Lee told the audience, “If someone asks you questions [during a pitch meeting], take notes, and send a follow-up the next day saying, ‘These are the things that we discussed; I wanted to follow up on these points.’ Show that you’re super-conscientious, and you’re on it.”
8) Get networked, especially with other female founders and female investors.
Many of these words of advice transfer well across into the classroom!
The attendees were also great. The highlight of my trip was meeting one to one with Adora Cheung at Y Combinator's head quarters. What an inspiring session. Adora's understanding and insight of the edtech market was remarkable. She asked me to provide her with an overview of Developing Experts. Adora's feedback paraphased, "Cool, your product is unique."