Last night I attended Connect ‘09, British Columbia Innovation Council’s Premier Event for Technology Start-ups and Innovators. In the space of five hours my experience ranged from frustration through to inspiration and here’s why.
On arrival I was hit by a sea of suits, which prompted the question, `Where are all the women in technology?’ It was reminiscent of many other events that I’ve attended over the year, where there was just a sprinkling of women.
It just seemed unbelievable to me, that in a city that offers plenty of opportunities for women in business, so few should be represented at this event. It’s for this very reason that I launched WomanzWorld in the first place – to change this imbalance and ensure the world could benefit from more female entrepreneurs.
I became even more determined to provide a key resource to empower and inspire females worldwide, to start and grow their own companies and change the face of business, forever.
Of the four panels one could attend, there was only one female expert featured, my friend and source of inspiration on many fronts, Amielle Lake, CEO of Tagga Media. She was on the Get Fundable panel – all about access to capital in the current economic climate. My partner in crime, Daryl attended this session and said Amielle was a presence to be reckoned with on stage. I wish I could have seen her in action along with the other experts.
I was next door attending Friends in High Places – Leveraging partnerships to accelerate growth. Although a little dry and in need of more energy and humour, it served up some valuable points of learning that are really relevant for Daryl and I as we engage with more channel partners for FundRazr.
The Accelerator Factor – Case studies on the benefits and value of accelerators, and The Design Imperative – Optimizing commercialization through product design were the other two featured panels.
Next up was two hours of structured networking, where you could connect with 50 of BC’s most successful technology leaders, and discover emerging innovations from academic institutions in BC. More importantly you could witness the wealth of talent in this industry and the fantastic youth that hold our future in their hands, with the surrounding Technology Expo. I was heartened to see several smart young women in the room showcasing their work and studies through this expo.
I was energized in my discussions with Maura Rodgers, Founder of Strutta and an integral part of Bootup Labs, along with the effervescent Sonia Ryan. I then discussed Super Powers with the dynamic Rochelle Grayson, interim Executive Director of New Media BC who’s setting out to build a media empire. Bring it on!
The awards that followed featured some of the best speeches and presentations I’ve seen in some time. Combined with this were several inspiring, yet truly humble, award recipients honoured for their excellence in technology, innovation, commercialization and education.
Leonard Brody blew me away with his 20 minute delivery that mesmerized the audience and was worthy of a TED conference. Of all the brilliant things this internationally recognized Canadian technology entrepreneur, venture capitalist, best-selling author discussed, the key ones I feel compelled to write about at 4am in the morning are these:
The three traits that set entrepreneurs apart
1. We are rogues – content to endure and thrive in the grey area, where challenge and discomfort are the norm, in order to see our dreams come to fruition.
2. We are passionate – beyond all else we continue our journeys into the unknown beholden to our unwilling resolve and passion for what we’re doing.
3. We are illogical – no ordinary person would consider it smart to fail over and over again. Entrepreneurs don’t have to be `smart’ by definition, but instead surround themselves by people who are smarter than them so they can boldly go where not many others would.
This is my personal take on it and there’s much more about the evening I’ll divulge over the next few weeks, including getting interviews with these incredible women at Connect ‘09 who were not wearing suits, but instead fabulous heels, and turning heads for all the right reasons.