Moms go back to startup school

There are countless discussions about why women entrepreneurs don't ask for or raise more money. There are discussions about the lack of women starting technology companies. What's interesting is the average age of entrepreneurs when pitching for funding in in their early thirties and then some. This is exactly when women are thinking about whether or not to have kids. Sheryl Sandberg has had a ridiculous amount of press about Leaning in and staying in the game. That's always easier when you've got mega support at home. Those of us that can hire an extra wife or choose the right husband as Sheryl says are the fortunate few. Interesting to note, she says your partner is the make or break you component of your career strategy.  Hers happens to also be a founder of a massive startup, SurveyMonkey.

I was happy to see that Google is creating environments for the average mom to leverage their creativity and talent to create our next big things...

Saturday, March 1, 2014  By Gwen AcKerman, Bloomberg

Women cradle newborn babies in their arms and dangle soft toys in front of older infants on colourful mattresses, all in a room in a Tel Aviv, Israel, highrise strewn with strollers and oversized bean bags.

It's not a play facility. It's the location of Google Inc.'s first babyfriendly school for startups. Called Campus for Moms, the program involves a series of nine weekly classes designed to give women on maternity leave a boost toward opening their own ventures in a country whose economy is dependent on innovation.

"The course helped me realize that this is who I am," said Nira Sheleg, a 37-year-old mother of two who founded, a teacherresource company, during the program. "I am an entrepreneur, not just a mom with an idea. Now I have a support group, and the mothers around me are amazing."

Since graduation last July, she's recruited a chief executive officer and several advisers and plans to start sales soon. Her targeted market: the U.S. The classes - two series have run so far - are designed to address a dearth of female entrepreneurs in Israel, where technology makes up almost half of industrial exports. That contributes about one-third of economic growth, making staffing such companies a priority for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Yet only nine per cent of technology startups around Tel Aviv are headed by women - about the same as in Silicon Valley.

"The biggest miss we have on talent in the technology industry is the lack of women entrepreneurs and engineers," said Google Israel's head of research and development, Yossi Matias, the senior company executive working with the Campus for Moms project.

Google is following up with similar programs in London and in Krakow, Poland, he said.

Employees of technology companies in Israel make up less than 10 per cent of the total workforce, according to figures from 2011 posted on the Central Bureau of

Statistics website. About seven per cent of all working women are employed in technology, compared to 12 per cent for men.

As little as four per cent of global venture capital flows into femaleinitiated startups, according to Eva Ventures, a micro-venture capital fund dedicated to the promotion of women entrepreneurship.

Its website uses figures from the Kauffman Foundation, an educational and entrepreneurial grant maker in Kansas City.

Eva Ventures started raising funds a few months ago and hopes to close with about $30 million in a few months before seeking candidates to invest in, said Michal Michaeli, founder and managing partner of the fund. All three managing partners are women.

"We know that having more women as startup founders would enrich the vibrant, innovative and unique scene that is Israeli hightech," the fund's website says.

Orna Berry has lived in the skewed world of Israel's technology industry for more than 25 years.

"It was always clear to me that this was a man's society," said Berry, former chief scientist for the Israeli government and venture partner at Gemini Israel fund. She is now a corporate vice-president at EMC Corp., the world's biggest maker of storage computers.

Along the way, she's reached out to women in the industry. She calls it less an act of mentoring and more the "virtue of the fact that a woman leader was with them so they allowed themselves not to stop at red lights."

Sheleg, who abandoned the first business she started due to the demands of her family life, attests to that. She was able to create in the nurturing environment of Campus for Moms, where conversations ranged from baby-sleeping issues to where to register a business. lets teachers create online worksheets and other educational tools. Her first venture, ShellEgg, was an Internet showcase for architects. She founded it with her sister when they both had infants.

At Campus for Moms, lecturers speak once a week about technology, give how-to lessons on forming a business and share experiences.

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