Editions Month is an initiative to highlight and introduce different audiences and industries to the innovation that happens at Startup Weekend. These special events bring together entrepreneurs and industry experts for all kinds of new projects, teamwork, and community building.
One of the most popular editions of Startup Weekend we see is Women’s Edition. Startup Weekend Women events seek to flip the ratio from traditional events. They encourage more participation from women and highlight female entrepreneurs all weekend – from the coaches to the judges.
Why are these events so critical to building strong startup communities? Because to grow diversity in technology entrepreneurship worldwide, showcasing the talents of women in entrepreneurship is a first step. Organizations around the world are seeking to do this is many helpful ways. The Techstars Foundation recently announced the first round of grantees, you can learn more here about these great organizations that are working to increase diversity and inclusiveness in entrepreneurship.
Check out the Women’s Editions happening during Editions Month!
To help build a diverse and strong startup community in your city, sign up to organize Startup Weekend Women!
tl;dr – special SW Lex promo code for women!
Melissa Chipman recently wrote an excellent article on the upcoming Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame (EHoF) induction ceremony, another event happening during Global Entrepreneurship Week. After highlighting the five Kentucky entrepreneurs who will be inducted this year, she pointed out some interesting statistics about EHoF inductees: “It’s worth noting there is only one woman in the Hall of Fame — iPay Technologies’ Dana Bowers — and there are 29 men. There also is only one person of color.”
When you’re the only one of something in the room (as Melissa was the only woman at SW Lou in 2012), it can feel kind of awkward. You may ask yourself questions like, “Am I supposed to be here?” or “Am I good enough for this?”. As Melissa’s team went on to win SW Louisville in 2012, the answers to those questions became quite apparent: the Y chromosome is not the carrier of some magical entrepreneur gene. Melissa has been an outspoken champion for improving diversity of age, gender, and race in Kentucky’s startup communities ever since. With this article she highlights that while times are changing, the EHoF’s recognition of historical achievements noticeably lags behind the present.
So, how about some self-assessment on diversity in our Kentucky startup scene? If we use EHoF inductees as a dataset, we’re not as bad at diversity as local university presidents. But it does seem odd that for a state with demographics of 50.8% women, we only have 4% women in the EHoF (25% for Emerging Entrepreneurs, a more current category). Our numbers aren’t quite as far off when it comes to people of color, as Kentucky is only 12% non-white and EHoF inductees are 4% non-white (10% for Emerging Entrepreneurs). Since it takes a while to grow a large company (and to make a cultural change), we don’t expect any sudden changes in these demographic numbers for Hall of Fame inductees, but we do expect the Emerging Entrepreneurs category (showcasing success-in-progress) to more accurately reflect the diversity of Kentucky’s population.
The Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame states that, “Our mission is to raise awareness of the impact that entrepreneurship has made in the Commonwealth and encourage others to pursue similar ambitious endeavors.” I think it’s doing a good job with Part 1, showcasing that successful entrepreneurs are not all from California or New York, but are Kentuckians just like all of us. Yet for Part 2 of the mission statement, Melissa’s note reminds us that people are often more inspired by stories similar to their own. I’m more inspired by Ralph G. Anderson, a UK Engineering grad like myself, than by Mark Zuckerberg (who kinda went to Harvard for a while).
We can’t change Kentucky’s past, but we can change our future. To help do this in one small way, we’re offering a special scholarship rate to women for Startup Weekend Lexington 2015. Enter promo code women2 to save 50% off registration, and bring your crazy startup ideas, exquisite design sense, and elite hacker skills with you for the Nov. 20th – 22nd event!
Diversity and inclusion is something we take seriously at Startup Weekend and with every edition we try to come up with ways to inspire a good representation of different groups to come experience a world of technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
Perhaps these 3 women will further inspire you to get in on the action as they did as participants, organizers and leaders in a short space of time:
Masha Ilina says:
I went to a Startup weekend for the first time in November 2014. I wanted to get to know Dublin’s startup community which this event is perfect for! I was surprised by the quality of mentors and the amount of help you get.
One of the most empowering things for me was to really realize that no idea is a stupid idea and to go and pitch it in front of people. It’s execution really that matters and you have a pool of talent there to work on this idea with for the next 54 hours.
I learned a big deal about group dynamics there. It wasn’t easy to lead a team you barely know! And of course it opened up lots of opportunities for me.
Masha went on to lead her team to win the 1st prize at the November 2014 edition of Startup Weekend with Gift Me – an app that allows you get the perfect gift for a friend as well as crowdfund for it. She also currently on the organizing team for July 2015 edition.
Aimee Clancy says:
My team Medxnote winning Start-up weekend 2013 was my first experience of Start-up Weekend. Before this I didn’t know a UX Designer from a Back End Developer, I had limited experience with technology and no experience in Start-ups. Start-up weekend showed me with entrepreneurial spirit, a good idea and a willingness to learn, regardless of our career history, knowledge or experience we can all connect, inspire and do great things.
After this, my interest in Start-ups gained speed. I once again was part of a winning team – Baffle – in 2014 followed by joined the Start-up weekend organising panel in 2015 and currently I’m involved with leading an innovative tech incubator StartLocal which is supported by FCR Media. I now actively encourage more women to get involved with Startup weekend as the benefits are endless – whether you’re there to learn something new, incorporate innovation into our daily lives or simply just to have a hell of a lot of fun, you won’t be disappointed!
Aimee cannot wait to host you at the July 2015 edition of Startup Weekend, and if there’s one thing I can attest to she’s the best host you can ever ask for.
Tracy Keogh (as told by Nubi Kay)
Tracy’s Startup Weekend story is a very interesting one. She attended in June 2014 as a participant and decided to pitch in the last minute. She went on to win the prize for best pitch as awarded by the Judges for her idea – Insurify – a system to help users better navigate the insurance marketplace. Tracy got so in tune with entrepreneurship and weeks later she decided to go all in, quit her job and co-found Deposify – a deposit management service for landlords and tenants.
By November 2014 she was back at Startup Weekend as a co-organizer and then decided to lead it April 2015. Now that’s impressive, going from participant to leading the Startup Weekend in 3 short weekends.
I hope these stories do inspire you to lean in. If these women can, then you too can and don’t forget to grab tickets for the July 2015 edition of the Startup Weekend Dublin before they run out.
At first, I found it strange that the organizing team of the Triangle event I facilitated on June 12-14 pursued a “trailblazers” edition. Initially I had thought the team wanted to create a diversity-themed event similar to the one I had facilitated in Miami just two weeks prior.
I learned quickly that the rationale behind that branding had to do with the perception of the world “diversity” as potentially not ideal. The term “Trailblazers” alluded to the multiple pioneers that have come from all walks of life in North Carolina, but not directly to women, people of color, or other underrepresented peoples.
This move honestly troubled me for two reasons:
Do people actually feel excluded when an event calls for diversity?
Do people not want to be part of an event that prioritizes diversity?
After 10 Startup Weekends as a participant, volunteer, organizer, and facilitator, I’ve come to not only appreciate the diversity of each event – I crave it. The greatest killer of an event is monotony – if it looks and feels the same as it did before, it will lose its luster.
My last two events were among the most memorable because they knew a simple fact:
Diversity improves community. Always.
Below are some key lessons I learned during my time in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill that weekend.
1. History matters, especially from diverse narratives
We’re all familiar of the most famous narrative of innovation out of North Carolina – the location of the famous Wright Brothers’ historic heavier-than-air flight. The state also has a rich history of innovation from lesser-known figures such as:
Sequoyah – creator of the Cherokee alphabet, which allowed for increase communication between and across Native American peoples.
Lunsford Lane – born into slavery and invented a special tobacco that raise enough money to buy his freedom.
Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner – inventor of 35 products and holder of five patents, granted retroactively as she was denied previously for being a black woman.
I felt it was important to tell these stories as well in Durham at the event. Innovation can truly come from anywhere, but it takes a special drive to push it forward.
2. Diversity strengthens communities on the rise
I was truly captivated by the beauty and sprawl of the downtown Durham innovation sector. Everything from American Underground to the Iron Yard is all within walking distance, and the community is very familiar and well-integrated.
I can see why the Triangle has been selected for the location of the next UP America Summit in September. It has everything the country could want and so much more!
3. You can have a diverse team of literal professionals
In all of my Startup Weekends, I’ve never seen a more impressive, academic, and professional group of people that I did at Triangle Trailblazers. In this photo, I estimate there are at least twelve or thirteen advanced degrees and over one hundred years of professional experience.
Moreover, they ran their even with aplomb. Excellent communication, precision, and consideration for the needs of the community. Great, great work!
4. Diversity is more than just about race or gender
This event was attended by nearly equal parts female and male and predominately people of color, particularly African and Latino American. Also like in the Miami event, the Triangle event brought out another underrepresented group: the differently-abled.
Two teams that hoped to aid the visually-impaired worked from start to finish during this competition, with one app – The Blank App – going on to win the AT&T Special Award for Connectability.
It’s great to see Startup Weekend bring out the best of ourselves, regardless of whether it is convenient or profitable.
5. A new owner, but the same mission for diversity
With the recent Techstars acquisition of UP Global, there are many community leaders such as myself who are left with several questions about the future of the organization. While tax incentives and financial strategies are important, I think the preservation of UP Global’s Burning Man-inspired philosophy of “radical inclusion” should be at the forefront of the discussion.
To me, prioritizing diversity should be self-evident, and it should not ever be a point of contention.
However, until our communities evolve to that point, we’ll just have to stay vigilant. From the bottom of my heart, I thank the Triangle Trailblazers team for inviting me out to be a part of their special event, and I’ll see everyone in September.
Lee Ngo is a community leader and facilitator based in Pittsburgh, PA.
Dublin was home for 3 days to all that love technology, innovation, and belong to the diversity and inclusion school of thought. As a community leader I had the opportunity to secure tickets to the #InspireFest2015 and after all said and done I am most excited to have had the chance to sit in that audience and engage with other participants and speakers.
Although my total time spent at the Bord Gais Theatre, venue for this year’s Inspire Fest, was 10 hours it was a really packed conference and here are 5 main takeaways:
1. We’ve got a hopeful future in the next generation
With people like Lauren Boyle, Emer Hickey, Ciara Judge, and Laura Browne with initiatives like Cool Steam Kids, Germinaid Innovations, and PowerScout, one can confidently hope for a better future. These young people are not build apps to become the next Facebook but are looking to solve big problems from education (STE[A]M orientation), to ending world hunger, and energy management.
It was also great to see today’s people providing the environment for these young chaps to thrive. From university programs in DCU and Trinity to Anne-Marie Imafidon’s Stemettes, we can begin to hope again because we’re in good hands.
2. There are business gains for a diverse inclusion agenda
Perhaps the most profound quote from #InspireFest2015 for me was one from Steve Neff, CTO Fidelity when he said:
— Nubi Kay (@NubiKay) June 18, 2015
Steve showed how inclusion and diversity brings about knowledge and value that a business may have never bargained for. Age, wealth distribution, customers, competitors are also some changes driving need for diversity-driven innovation, not to mention opportunities for entrepreneurs when trying to solve the issue of inclusion e.g. Child carers on demand for working women.
3. Fashion and Technology loving up in today’s world
As you’d see in the very short clip below, fashion and technology seem to have a thing going. Intel labs showcased one of its work with duo Turkish designers at the #InspireFest. I got discussing this with a friend after the conference when I said – wouldn’t it be cool for your dress to link up with your watch or phone and tell you as you’re about to leave the house whether your clothes go with the weather.
4. The future of work is an interesting one
This is a statement DAQRI‘s co-founder Gaia proved with the showcase of the smart uber-cool helmet known as the 4D. She touched on the current outlook of work today – repetitive, laborious and monotonous. With technology such as 4D, work becomes purposeful, connected, and empowering. DAQRI just opened its European HQ in Dublin with a first hackathon to get the developer community in on the future of work. No doubt things are about to get interesting in this space one can agree things are about to get interesting.
Discussions on the future workplace also took place on the first day at #InspireFest2015. While it’s easy to sense some form of consensus among the panelist that work is to be flexible and virtual, that’s a very interesting debate as Yahoo’s Marisser Mayer is currently pushing the agenda to get everyone back to the office building.
5. You should be at #InspireFest2016 because Cindy Gallop said so
— Cindy Gallop (@cindygallop) June 21, 2015
Fun fact, did you know the first know poet and author was a woman by the name of Enheduanna? She was a high priestess in the City of Ur. Enheduanna helped bring together the Sumerian cities through her religious work by consolidating all the local gods into the worship of one, Inanna, a relentless warrior goddess. One story struck a particular chord in me. Inanna needed to defeat a mountain, so she sought the help of the other bro gods, who naturally refused to help. Irritated by the lack of help Inanna singlehandedly destroyed the mountain and showed up the other gods. The story bears strong resemblance to our modern times.
The “mountain” is reflective of the struggles women face in our society. They have two options, one fight the mountain on their own without support. Or two resign to their systematic fate in the valley below. This culture angers me and it should not be this way. Entrepreneurship can be the warrior princess weapon to fight the “mountain.” However, in order to instill change we need to instill empowerment and alter our attitude towards women as soon as they are able to walk.
Take a stroll in a park and you’ll see how the system affects young girls on a daily basis. When a girl goes and picks up a football or a toy truck their parents immediately chastise them and say, “No, that is only for boys.” Or my all time favorite, “that is not very lady-like” when a girl states her opinion. No wonder we don’t see more powerful female giants across the world. What individual can grow up to be a leader when divisions are drawn and voices are silenced? We are to blame for the lack of leaders by raising a generation of women who are subservient to the system.
Therefore, creating a space by women for women is of radical importance to breaking the patriarchal system that binds them from their true potential. Creating events such Startup Weekend Women and even Startup Weekend Girls is a pivotal step in the right direction! The change needs to come from within, those who privilege from the culture are blinded to the oppression it creates. Only women understand and can decide what is best for their needs and how they can achieve triumph. Let women personify the goddess Inanna and follow in her footsteps, destroying the mountains that hamper progress. For when women finally achieve equality, balance will be restored to the world.
After 9 Startup Weekends in three years, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life (in fact, I’ve written previously that I might be addicted to it). However, for some that the journey could be really intense at times, and not everyone makes it to the finish line feeling the same way.
Recently, I facilitated Startup Weekend Miami: Diversity Edition, where I was taught the concept of “la pasión,” which is Spanish for “people in Miami are really, REALLY emotional.” I was tasked to harness la pasión in a community that had a plethora of it, in a way that would make everyone come away from Startup Weekend Miami feeling as wonderful as I had 8 times before.
Below is a list of lessons and tips for a facilitator, organizer, or volunteer to apply that would help maintain a sense of stability to an otherwise potentially chaotic event.
1. If you’re an organizer or volunteer, your mission is to execute the event as orderly as possible
In Startup Weekend, Murphy’s Law generally applies – anything that can go wrong will go wrong. It is vital that every organizer and volunteer is informed of the weekend’s tasks and can easily communicate with one another to correct any situation that arises.
Best practice: Print up a universal task list that specifies each delegation and giving a copy to all your volunteers. That way, even if they don’t have an assignment, they can look at the list to see if someone else needs help with something.
2. If you’re the facilitator, your first priority is to take care of the lead organizer
Generally, lead organizers shoulder the most burden, and the stress can be overwhelming. They should be acknowledged especially for their months of hard work leading up to the big show.
Facilitators should check in with them hourly and make sure they’re fed, hydrated, and as relaxed as you can get them. If necessary, give them a hug (more on that later).
3. Communicate to people on their level – perhaps even in their language
Startup Weekend is an educational event at its core, and the most effective way to teach is to contextualize it with abstract reasoning that they understand. Learn more about them to understand their thinking processes.
An added challenge for me: most of the attendees of Startup Weekend Miami speak Spanish as their first language. I do not – except for what I’ve learned on TV – so when people weren’t looking, I’d review my Dora The Explorer Lessons on YouTube and bust that out randomly. You’re welcome, mi amigo/as.
4. If teams are arguing without end, facilitate a scrum
Inevitably, disagreements occur in a competition, but they become difficult to resolve when people are not talking in a respectful, orderly fashion.
To resolve this, get them to stand up and talk in a circle, one at a time. Here’s a quick video to teach you how to run a proper scrum – a very popular method of coordinating large, diverse teams.
(The key lesson starts at 6:32)
I did this with one team in particular. More on that later.
5. Have a quiet space – one for volunteers, one for participants
We all need to decompress, so give your people a place to rest, nap, socialize, and blow off some steam. Don’t go so far as create a distracting place such as a game session – you still want people to focus on on the main goal.
6. Throw in a dance session or two (you’ll have to start it)
It was a foregone conclusion that I’d be dancing in Miami. It was just a matter of how often. I like to keep the music playing in a common area for attendees to come out, relax, and practice their salsa.
Dancing is a great way to stay loose and relaxed, and it’s probably less terrifying than, say, public speaking.
7. Prevent “hanger” by providing snacks and insist that everyone drink water frequently
Startup Weekend is a high-energy competition, and with brains working on overdrive, they’ll need to be replenished. I try to have a bottle of water and a protein-rich snack on my person at all times. Keep your people well-fed, and they’ll be well-tempered, too.
8. Give out hugs and high-fives whenever possible
At a hyper-networking event like Startup Weekend, these physical embraces lead to lasting connections that you’ll appreciate long after this experience.
9. Plan to finish your event as soon as possible…
- Links only: Instead of letting people present and demo on their own laptops with varying file types, have them send cloud-based links to both and put them in a single document. This moves things along quickly in between Q&A sessions.
- 4:3 presentation model: Limit presentations to 4 minutes with a loose 3 minutes for judges’ Q&A works well, too. Judges average about 45 seconds per question, so a group of 3-5 judges works well.
Why do we do this?
10. … so that everyone will go to the after-party
I love the idea of an after-party, but often Startup Weekends run too late, and who can really stick around to party on a Sunday night? However, if you aim to end your event around 8pm or earlier, and your event was a rousing success, you’ll have a great time.
Also, try to have ALL of your parties in Miami, regardless of your own location. Here’s why:
When a team that nearly imploded on Saturday night…
Team BreakinBread was a fun project for me. Constantly bickering in Spanish over every single detail, I was positive that they would implode and disband by Saturday night.
To fix this, I made them do a scrum. By getting them to talk in turn and truly listen to one another, they realized that they were actually a well-rounded team that agreed on one thing: they had communication problems.
Afterwards, they delivered a beautiful presentation that impressed the judges. The rest is Startup Weekend Miami history: they won first place.
Or when a team that won 2nd place got a standing ovation…
Ernie struggles to get where he needs to be due to the lack of convenient transportation options for the disabled. His dedicated friend Juan pitched an idea:
An “Uber for the differently-abled,” Juan wanted Ernie to have access to the ride-sharing technologies that dominate the startup marketplace today (e.g. Uber and Lyft). They found great validation by tapping into people’s good nature – an uncommon approach for a Startup Weekend team.
Once I announced their second place win, Ernie stood up and made his way to the main stage. With every step, more and more people rose with him and applauded his victory with deafening cheers of support.
Or when I could not stop smiling when I was presented with this amazing certificate
The text reads:
“A special recognition for surviving your
MIAMI DRAMA INITIATION
Let all who view this document know you survived Miami. We are diverse, speak at the same time and have a rollercoaster of emotions, but at the end of the day, we’re all family and end the night laughing with J’s (JAJAJAJA). You rock!”
Perhaps I had been a bit of a curmudgeon the whole time…
In short, Startup Weekend is indeed a roller coaster (it’s designed that way), but for a small minority, that can be an unpleasant experience. Emotions are meant to run high, but there are ways to keep it balanced yet still exciting.
I hope these suggestions serve as a way to hold someone’s hand to make them feel safe right before they take the deep plunge into entrepreneurship.
Good luck, and thank you, Startup Weekend Miami: Diversity Edition!
Lee Ngo is a community leader based out of Pittsburgh, PA.
To close out UP Global’s Editions Month campaign, I’ll be hosting a diversity edition of Startup Weekend in Miami. To be held at VentureHive, one of Miami’s top startup accelerators, this event is lead by Paula Celestino, a previous Startup Weekend Tampa winner who co-founded KlosetKarma from her experience, an app that monetizes your wardrobe.
While this is not my first time in the glorious state of Florida, this is my first time in Miami, which means I’ll be full of regret if I do not accomplish the following.
1. Take a photo of myself wearing pastel colors.
I prefer to wear darker tones (black, grey, blue, etc.) – and this will not do in sunny south Florida. Fortunately Miami is one of the fashion capitals of the world, so I should be in good hands.
2. Find a proper place to “get jiggy with it.”
Yes, like to most of you, Will Smith is pretty much the cultural ambassador of Miami to the rest of the country. My goal is to find out exactly what he was talking about in that video so many years ago. Also, I now feel super old.
3. Eat the best Cuban sandwich I can find.
This is all Jon Favreau’s fault. I had my first Cuban ever… in Seattle. I can only presume that somewhere in Miami will patronize that experience … by welcoming me as their patron… perhaps serving it with some Patron?
4. Try to look somewhat sexy through salsa dancing.
Of all the items on this list, I am the most confident in accomplishing this one.
5. Jump sideways while pretending to fire two guns in air.
The ish is gonna get REAL.
6. Find some Heat merchandise for my brother-in-law.
For reasons I do not understand, my Filipino brother really likes the Miami Heat. I’ll have to get him a Wade jersey to help him through the tough times.
7. See if I look good walking around South Beach in a speedo.
Of all the items on this list, this is the one I am least confident in accomplishing.
8. Learn some Spanish. After all, this is America.
During my brief time in UP Global, I worked with an amazing bilingual team and wish I could communicate with them on their level. I only learned how to laugh. Jajaja.
9. “Seriously, Paula. We’re going dancing, right?”
I will start a dance party AT the event if I have to. Speaking of which…
10. Inspire a new community of Miamians into the startup life.
Of course, the greatest thrill of all is to pass on the experiences that I had at Startup Weekend to a new community. I am especially proud to be a part of an event that’s emphasizing diversity and openness – one of the fundamental tenets of UP Global is “radical inclusion,” where everyone should have a chance to experience what’s it like to be an entrepreneur.
Just a few weeks away. I can’t wait to get this show started!
Lee Ngo, Facilitator
Startup Weekend Miami Diversity
Lee Ngo is an UP Global community leader based in Pittsburgh, PA.
When our organizing group decided to do a Women’s Edition, we never once entertained the idea of not letting men attend. This is for a pretty specific reason: equality and empowerment for women in entrepreneurship requires men to be involved, too.
So here you go, we have five reasons men should attend Women’s Edition. Ready? Here we go!
1. Showing up is saying that you support equality for half of the population. While women may be roughly half of the humans who occupy the planet, we ladies face inequality in virtually all aspects of employment and socioeconomic development. By showing up to say that you believe women should have a place in entrepreneurship, you’re saying that you believe in equality for half the population!
2. You will have no problem surveying women for your idea. One of the difficulties of doing customer validation is finding your audience. Women – as half the population! – are an important element of customer validation, and Women’s Edition will give you an easily-available audience of women whose customer validation will be a breeze!
3. Women make spending decisions. Most tech events are mostly men; that’s one a few places where it is forgotten that women make the spending decisions. Where real people are spending real money – and not exchanging “likes” for a “yo” or a “favorite” – 85% of all brand purchases are made by women. If you’re looking to really come up with a marketable idea, learn why women spend their dollars and where – this event is perfect for this.
4. Our speakers, mentors, and judges are out-of-this-world. We have some of the most amazing speakers, mentors, and judges showing up to help you. Yes, you. You’ll be getting face time with strong women who wouldn’t have time otherwise. You’re welcome.
5. This is the first of its kind in San Diego and you’ll be part of something amazing. There is never a reason not to attend Startup Weekend. Networking, learning, creating, building – there are so many things that happen at a Startup Weekend, and that’s why so many of us keep coming back for more.