I was glad to see two interesting initiatives this week related to women and girls in technology. The first was Entrepreneurial Night by Girls’ Middle School in Mountain View and held at Google. Ten groups of seventh grade girls made their pitches to a room full of venture capitalists.
In his post at BusinessWeek, Rob Hof writes:
It was pretty amazing to see these young entrepreneurs slinging PowerPoint slides in front of a huge conference room screen in front of more than 400 people–including the VCs from whom they were asking for real investments of $100 and up. I’d be scared to death, but they all had their pitches down cold. They had been working on their businesses for months as part of the school’s Entrepreneurial Education program, now in its 10th year. And they had rather precise projections of their profits and the amount they’d return to their prospective investors. Judging from sales at the booths they had set up before their presentations, they were going to beat those projections handily.
Vivian Wu, a judge at the Girls’ Middle School (GMS) Entrepreneurial Night for the past three years writes about the experience at Techcrunch. She explains that the program is a full year course at GMS with volunteer business coaches helping the girls conceive of ideas, write a business plan, and prepare to present on the actual night. This level of commitment to teaching is really key to change: both encouraging and teaching applicable skills to kids. The other part of the project that resonated with me is the philanthropic angle.
Worth noting is the fact that the girls are all taught to develop profitable and philanthropic businesses. In May, they liquidate the businesses, return capital (and more) to investors, and each donate 5-20% of profits to charities like Greenpeace, SPCA, CARE and the school library! Several of the teams focused on recycled products as well, which Trae Vassalo from Kleiner particularly applauded when she funded Reuse, Recycle and Relax.
Concepts of social entrepreneurship and sustainability aren’t limited to any industry. Instead, they benefit the business, the world, and each of us in this connected ecosystem.
Women 2.0 Business Idea Competition
The second event is the Women 2.0 “Submit your business idea… on a paper napkin” contest. Women 2.0 is a branch of Entrepreneur27, and “connects like-minded, motivated young women in the Silicon Valley to swap energy, ideas, and experiences with each other.”
The competition requires that you submit a business idea on a paper napkin for a chance to pitch your plan to a judging panel of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. I love the minimalism of condensing your idea to a 5 inch square napkin. It’s not just entrepreneurs that might sketch their most brilliant thought in a few line graphs or words, it’s also engineers, artists and writers who have revered paper napkins as medium for inspiration ;)
Women 2.0 is accepting business ideas that are in concept stage or in beta launch only. The deadline to submit ideas is Thursday, March 15. Afterwards, semi-finalists will be notified by March 20th and then need to email a 10 slide presentation by April 15th. Finalists will notified by April 20th with the presentations taking place at 7 pm at CNET in SF on April 25th. You can have a team of up to four individuals. At least half of the team must be female and at least half of the team must be under 27. Get all the details and requirements at the Women 2.0 site.