women entrepreneurs

A love letter to Craig Newmark

Thank you Craig Newmark. You've taken the time to really step into our shoes. Beyond saying you believe women are a great investment and showing the stats to prove it, you really feel into our experience. You've taken on the vocalization of a story that's probably a little messy.  You've put together events and opportunities for women-led startups to prevail. Fantastic. You've given women visibility and funding. Amazing.

AND

It is your willingness to consistently be our voice, to provide the words that for some, need to come from your lips to truly land, that makes you our cherished champion.

Thank you,

N

And here's his write-up...

It’s time for men to champion women in tech

By: Craig Newmark - Techcrunch

Folks, when it comes to gender equality in the tech world, we haven’t come very far.

Fifty-three years after the Equal Pay Act and supposedly the advancement of women’s rights in the workplace, Silicon Valley still has the feel of a fraternity.

Despite lots of research that shows how tech companies excel when women lead, the playing field is still heavily tilted in favor of men. How do we turn this around? I want to suggest that as a start, we men can make a real effort to use our male privilege on behalf of our women colleagues.

Women in tech face some tough odds. A recent Equal Employment Opportunity Commission survey of some of the top US tech companies found that on average, just 18 percent hold leadership positions, and among certain tech jobs, men still make, on average, 28.3 percent more than women.

At some leading tech companies as few as 10 percent of women occupy tech positions.

For women founders, the numbers are even worse.

Only 7% of investor funding goes to women-led ventures, and according to Digitalundivided,a mere 0.2% of venture deals from 2012-2014 went to Black women founders.

And what about the work place environment? Is it conducive to women’s inclusion and advancement?

Not according to a comprehensive survey of Silicon Valley companies conducted by Vassallo and Madansky, who found that 60 percent of women in tech had received unwanted sexual advances from a male superior, and 87 percent had been on the receiving end of demeaning comments from male co-workers. And two thirds reported being excluded when guys were going out for drinks or to other networking events.

So, it’s not particularly surprising that more than half (56 percent) of women in tech jobsdon’t stick around, or that they opt to leave the private science, engineering, and technology workforce.

But when women are supported, encouraged, and funded to lead, they excel. In fact, tech companies led by women are more capital-efficient and achieve, on average, a 35 percent higher return on investment than firms led by men, according to a Kauffman Foundation report.

Women tech entrepreneurs (working from the disadvantage of having received 50 percent less VC funding), are still able to generate 20 percent greater revenue than their male counterparts, according to a Forbes study.

Further, tech companies with a woman founder performed 63 percent better than those companies with all-male founding teams, according to a First Round Capital report.

Despite the mounting evidence that equal access for women in tech enhances the value of companies, we’re not doing enough to help women succeed — to say the least.

 

Despite the mounting evidence that equal access for women in tech enhances the value of companies, we’re not doing enough to help women succeed — to say the least

 

This is a really big problem, folks, and it’s one that we have the ability to change. We need to do a lot more, and that includes us men sharing some of our privilege and helping women colleagues get a fair shake. How would that look?

 Networking is a big deal in business and the tech world. That’s how deals get done. As part of this, men need to open our doors and share our contacts. If you know of a promising women-led startup, introduce them to investors. Another way to help women entrepreneurs is to offer some mentoring.

So for instance, if you’ve had a lot of success writing winning pitch decks, offer to review their pitch and provide concrete feedback. (Jonathan Beninson recently shared a great post on Medium about structuring mentor/mentee relationships.)

We can also help women in their job searches by spreading the wealth of contacts.  More publicly, you can speak up when women are getting a raw deal (discrimination, harassment, exclusion etc.) And we need to speak up to support women in meetings.

That includes creating space, and letting them say what they have to say without interruption or ignoring what they’ve said. Another way to be an ally:  when we’re invited to a tech panel that is an all-male affair, we can ask the organizer to include some women experts and offer some suggestions about who to invite.

 

We should all just say no to speaking on panels when organizers refuse to include women.

 

We should all just say no to speaking on panels when organizers refuse to include women.

“Tech companies want to solve the toughest problems facing our communities nationally and globally, but in order to do so, they must invest in fostering a more diverse workplace culture and where women are at the decision-making table,” says my colleague Allyson Kapin, founder of the Women Startup Challenge. “This is how we will begin to move the needle.”

I’ve been working with Allyson on the Women Startup Challenge for the last year. It showcases and helps fund women-led startups across the U.S. through pitch competitions (like the one we’re doing at LinkedIn in San Francisco on June 14th) and crowdfunding campaigns.

I’ve been learning a lot from our partnership, including some of the small but important things men can do that are a big deal for women.

I figure that if you’ve done well, as Kevin Spacey says, it’s your job to send the elevator back down — meaning we need to be intentional about opening our doors to women and helping them expand their networks and clout. This is about fairness. Plus, there’s the business advantage I mentioned earlier. Let’s do this and become our women colleagues’ best allies.

Empowering a Billion Women by 2020 launched by Ingrid Vanderveldt

Source: Upstart Business Journal 

Author: Caroline McMillan Portillo. Bizwomen reporter

"After 8 years in my own mastermind group - The Billionaire Girls Club - I know first-hand how transformational cultivating these relationships can be. These women have introduced me to serious players, provided numerous opportunities from speaking to publishing, given me feedback, advice and have flat out told me the truth. They have helped me grow my business, been champions for my personal growth and have been a constant source of support.  
One of our Billionaire Girls Club members, Ingrid Vanderveldt was recently featured by BizWomen in an article called, "On the Hunt For Her First Billion" where she talks about how important her own mastermind group was to her success. 
Turns out we're really lucky because many of the top women leaders I speak to feel like they're out on their own. Even if they are running wildly successful companies, they are often too busy heads down scaling their businesses to actually step back and focus on strategy and what's driving the business…and more importantly what's driving them. They also tell me how rare it is to meet other women who get what it's like to operate at their level and how excited they'd be to finally have an intimate setting where they can get honest feedback.
This is exactly why I wanted to provide other women with the same opportunity by creating the Art of Leverage Mastermind Group for 5 extraordinary business women. This is the process I use with my clients to remove all limiting beliefs so they can scale, multiply their valuations, get tied in with partners from Hearst to Coca Cola and create the biggest impact possible even when they have minimal resources. The Art of Leverage Mastermind starts with the biggest point of leverage, mindset. Mindset matters. It shows up in the messaging they use, what they offer, the people they hire, the partners they choose, the asks they make and their bottom line. We then focus on messaging so that they're perfectly positioned and monetization so that they implement those tweaks that can maximize profits with ease and grace. And, these women now have the ability to leverage each other. " - Nicole 

Ingrid Vanderveldt officially launches her global mentorship program at SXSW — and you can join it. 

The UpTake: Ingrid Vanderveldt, who has built and sold two tech companies, launches her own global mentoring program at South by Southwest.

Ingrid Vanderveldt has built and sold two tech companies. She's worked with dozens of others. She's hosted her own TV show on CNBC. And she knows this much in her core: Entrepreneurs need mentors.The rest of the world knows this: If Vanderveldt wants to empower a billion women in the next five years, she needs a full-blown movement.That's where her global mentorship program comes in. And amid the hubbub of South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, Vanderveldt announced its official launch on Sunday night. She also introduced a key corporate partner: global consulting company Frost & Sullivan, which will be helping companies around the world get involved.Vanderveldt's movement is called "Empowering a Billion Women by 2020," and she began working on it when she was Dell's first entrepreneur in residence, a post she left last fall. The entrepreneur in residence position is traditionally found at venture capital firms. At Dell she worked to bridge the gap between the company and the small business owners who need its technology. She started the Dell Innovators Credit Fund and also launched her own passion project, Empowering a Billion Women by 2020, a company founded to put a mobile device in the hands of every woman around the globe.Think that's lofty? At Dell, she reached 600 million women.The program is also about giving women the support they need to be successful in business.Until Sunday, the platform had only had a private launch.

But for months, Vanderveldt has been galvanizing women across the globe around the idea of supporting one another to boost their success as leaders and entrepreneurs.And their medium for doing so is mentorship.The number one issue that keeps women from leadership is lack of confidence, Vanderveldt said. "People build confidence when they can take action," she said. "And people can take action when they find a mentor."Now, any woman around the world can sign up, for free, to be a part of the movement, which operates on a pay-it-forward model.Women who have mentors will also mentor other women. Once they sign up, every woman is put in one of five categories based on her income level or business's revenue.The first is for women who've lost everything and have nothing to start with. The second is for women making up to $50,000 a year with their business. The third is for $50,000 to $250,000. The fourth is for $250,000 to $1 million, and the last is for women whose businesses bring in more than $1 million in revenue a year.Every woman will be mentored by someone in the group just above them — someone who isn't so far removed from her protege's situation that she can't relate, Vanderveldt said."She's gone through what you have," Vanderveldt said. "She knows your challenges and opportunities."The program also includes 25 handpicked global ambassadors who working in their communities to evangelize the program and effect change in local policy. The global ambassadors are mentored by Vanderveldt herself.

And once women have a mentor, Empowering a Billion Women by 2020 wants them to create their own "circles of five" — made up of like-minded people, peers, who are dealing with similar situations.Vanderveldt's has met in a group of five for the last seven years. They call it the "Billionaire Girls Club."Members include: Vanderveldt; Carrie Silver-Stock, the executive director of Empowering a Billion Women by 2020; Nicole Casanova, founder of Casanova Ventures, a consultancy that helps startups scale; Traci Fenton, founder of WorldBlue, a company that works to bring democracy to the workplace; and Sarah Endline, founder of chocolate company Sweet Riot.None of them are billionaires (yet), but every month, they have a standing conference call to discuss their ideas, struggles and plans. In the weeks between, they text and email. And one a year, they gather for an informal meeting, to talk, laugh and do yoga face to face."Now we've created a platform that invites more corporations, more policy makers, more media committed to the success of women worldwide," Vanderveldt said. "And we're really bridging those organizations to women in a way that helps them grow and thrive."

Six Innovative Women to Watch in 2015

Congratulations to Angela Lee and the other five women who were recently named by Entrepreneur Magazine as the "Six Innovative Women to Watch in 2015"

"In fields as varied as robotics, finance, biomedical engineering and education, these innovators have taken a decidedly humanistic approach to effecting positive change. It’s a benevolent form of leadership that is driving real results while setting the stage for the next generation of socially conscious entrepreneurs. Keep an eye out for these women and their pioneering work—we have no doubt you’ll be seeing more of them.

Lauren Bush Lauren’s FEED tackles hunger through commerce 

Lauren Bush Lauren has a singular focus: feeding hungry people. Her New York-based consumer-goods company, FEED Projects, and its associated nonprofit, FEED Foundation, define success in terms of meals provided—85 million in seven years, the equivalent of roughly $11 million.

Bush Lauren, 30, believes social entrepreneurship is most effective when the mission is clear to the consumer. FEED Projects sends funds from products sold—each stamped with a number indicating how many donated meals will result from the purchase—to its partners on the ground fighting hunger: UNICEF, United Nations World Food Programme and Feeding America. As part of its fundraising initiatives, FEED Foundation creates events that ultimately support the same organizations. The dollar equivalent of each meal is 11 cents in the U.S. and 10 cents internationally.

“FEED connects consumers to the cause of hunger,” Bush Lauren explains. “If it is not quick and easy and simple, you lose the consumer. FEED is a nice way to hook people and make them more aware of what is happening around the world. That’s the role we can play.”

FEED’s simple calculus and youthful, well-designed products such as bags, bracelets, scarves and T-shirts have engaged Bush Lauren’s Millennial peers and made the company a model for other anti-hunger advocates. “It is a very big deal to reach young 

people on hunger,” says Billy Shore, founder and CEO of Share Our Strength, which created the “No Kid Hungry” campaign. Bush Lauren’s model of social entrepreneurship, he adds, “has taught us a broader lesson: the opportunity for nonprofits to create wealth instead of just redistributing wealth.”

A new deal with West Elm will enable FEED to be even more effective at that mission. For the partnership, Bush Lauren worked with the home furnishings company to design a 30-item range of FEED housewares (in West Elm stores now); a spring collection and a steady stream of other projects will follow.

“She articulated our culture absolutely perfectly,” says Jim Brett, who was named West Elm president in 2010 and has turned the chain of more than 65 stores into Williams-Sonoma Inc.’s fastest-growing brand, in large part by partnering with high-profile designers.

Bush Lauren’s renown came at a young age. She doubled down on fame and fortune when she married David Lauren, son of American designer Ralph Lauren, in 2011. But as the granddaughter of one U.S. president and the niece of another, she already led an exceptional life. She modeled part time while attending Princeton University. She traveled around the world as a student ambassador for the U.N.’s World Food Programme.

It was while working with the U.N. in Guatemala in 2003, dishing up corn and soya porridge for schoolchildren, that she was inspired to make fighting hunger her mission and refocused her budding design career on creating products that would
engage others in that cause.

With no business experience, she founded FEED in 2007 and grew it slowly through a series of mostly one-off partnerships made possible through connections. This gained her access to the professional expertise she lacked, while the partners
assumed most of the risk of developing FEED’s products, as well as managing distribution and marketing.

“FEED has been built on partnerships,” Bush Lauren says. “FEED offers this nice, easy, clear solution for our partner companies to engage with the mission of hunger, to allow their consumers to participate with them in giving back.” 

The longest-running partnership has been with skincare giant Clarins, which has provided 6 million meals through its “Gift with Purpose” FEED bag program. Other collaborators have included Whole Foods Market, Godiva, DKNY, Target, Barnes & Noble, Gap, Women’s Healthmagazine, HSN, Lord & Taylor, Pottery Barn, Bergdorf Goodman and Harrods. 

Read the entire Entrepreneur article here. 

How Masterminds are Powering Women & Why You Should Be in One

After 8 years in my own mastermind group - The Billionaire Girls Club - I know first-hand how transformational cultivating these relationships can be. These women have introduced me to serious players, provided numerous opportunities from speaking to publishing, given me feedback, advice and have flat out told me the truth. They have helped me grow my business, been champions for my personal growth and have been a constant source of support.  

Billionaire Girls Club (My Mastermind Group)

One of our Billionaire Girls Club members, Ingrid Vanderveldt was recently featured by BizWomen in an article called, "On the Hunt For Her First Billion" where she talks about how important her own mastermind group was to her success. 

Turns out we're really lucky because many of the top women leaders I speak to feel like they're out on their own. Even if they are running wildly successful companies, they are often too busy heads down scaling their businesses to actually step back and focus on strategy and what's driving the business…and more importantly what's driving them. They also tell me how rare it is to meet other women who get what it's like to operate at their level and how excited they'd be to finally have an intimate setting where they can get honest feedback.

This is exactly why I wanted to provide other women with the same opportunity by creating the Art of Leverage Mastermind Group for 5 extraordinary business women. This is the process I use with my clients to remove all limiting beliefs so they can scale, multiply their valuations, get tied in with partners from Hearst to Coca Cola and create the biggest impact possible even when they have minimal resources. The Art of Leverage Mastermind starts with the biggest point of leverage, mindset. Mindset matters. It shows up in the messaging they use, what they offer, the people they hire, the partners they choose, the asks they make and their bottom line. We then focus on messaging so that they're perfectly positioned and monetization so that they implement those tweaks that can maximize profits with ease and grace. And, these women now have the ability to leverage each other. 

Our next Art of Leverage Mastermind starts January 27th. Although the call for applications has passed, because we're hand-curating the group (we want to make sure there's an interesting mix and that everyone is totally aligned) and because of the response we've received, we are considering starting another concurrent group. 

This is what we look for:

1. A female business rock-star who makes big bold moves

2. A woman who will provide a wonderful contribution

3. A woman that gets the need for community, collaboration, and connection with women who will push you further

4. A woman who understands that she is the true leverage in her business

If you are this brilliant woman, we want to know and support you.  If you know a woman you'd like to nominate that would benefit from the power of leverage in her business and the power of leverage in her network, please send her our way. 

You can reach us at info@casanovaventures.com.

BTW - My personal mission is to shift the game. 2015 - I'm choosing women.  And, a mastermind is one of the best starting points to make that happen. Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank and the father of micro-lending specifically talks about the power that comes from circles of 5 women.

When we light the fire so these women entrepreneurs skyrocket, ooh baby - watch out!

THIS IS THE YEAR WE SHIFT THE GAME.

THIS IS THE YEAR WE SHIFT THE GAME

One of the wonderful women that supported me in creating my game, Shift, reached out to me recently. Kristen had seen my Facebook post. 

Bigger and better in 2015. Just burned my game, Shift and, did a forgiveness ceremony. Think I’m finally ready...
— Me, Facebook

She was really concerned about me. 

Yet...I'm fantastic.

I had no clue how long it had been. We published Shift a decade ago. 2005. I spent a better part of a decade building a story that didn't serve me. That night I let go of all sorts of judgment, anger, and frustration and all these limiting beliefs I had tied up in it. It took almost an hour to fully burn and it felt oh so good.

I read through everything - the rules, the box, our meditations...every card. It really was so well done. The graphics and the content... even the rules. All amazing.  

I am so thankful to the women that helped me birth it. There is no way I could have done it without their loving guidance and belief in it, in me, in us. 

I had discounted it for so long. I cringed every time someone asked about it and I don't think I opened one of those boxes in the last 5 years. 

It caused so much stress. Everything took a toll - my marriage, my finances, my relationship with my family...even my health. 

Everyone thought I was crazy. I thought I wasn't enough.

I thought I had failed. But the reality was, I kept at it, for a very long time. Freaking years and years. I believed in it so much and when it didn't reach the level of success I needed it to, I judged it... I judged me... as a failure. Maybe it was the business model - a physical product with no marketing budget for pull is hard. Maybe it was that we were just too early. I remember companies laughed us out the door when we said the words, "limiting beliefs." Producing and distributing a physical product, live streaming multiple videos - things were so expensive to create then. Startups now have so many advantages and for the new entrepreneurs, failure is a badge of honor. 

I've been working with these amazing entrepreneurs lately. They've totally inspired me to step back into my truth. They totally get that mindset matters and that consciousness is indeed cool. They get it. They think from possibility. They lead with love. 

It's a decade later and all of these things that I was just too ahead of my time for are now starting to convene. Now people have a willingness to see what's driving them and let go of anything that doesn't support them reaching their highest potential. 

And so as the New Year approaches I've asked myself, "What really wants to show up?" I'm so good at avoiding and not listening but I've been hearing it clearly.  I am here to own my worth as a successful business woman and give other women the opportunity to create their biggest impact. 

My purpose is to shift the game.
— Nicole Casanova

Turns out I've got a ton of limiting beliefs that have kept me from owning this message. I could not say the following sentence:

I am the original internet marketer (1995 yo!) who coaches women leaders on owning and asking for their worth.

So much here that felt icky. I had judgment about:

- Internet marketers (obnoxious and shady) - yet all the ones I know give tremendous value and are truly leading from love

- Coaches (airy fairy and definitely no business acumen) - yet the biggest pivot points in my life came from the work I did with my coaches

- Women - (Oh my - so much here. Not enough, not a big enough market, not taken seriously enough... I suppose just not worth as much) - yet I have surrounded myself with some of the most amazing women on Earth who are wielding their power for good!

This women one is big. And so this is my year to shift this huge limiting belief. We teach what we are. That means owning my worth as a woman - a bad ass business woman.

In 2015, I will support women (especially the ones positioned to have huge impact) in empowering themselves. And I will start with me. It's freaking time I shifted my game.

So after a ton of requests to create a mastermind similar to the one I've been in for 8 years - The Billionaire Girls Club - I'm finally offering a high touch version specifically designed to escalate a founder and her company's value from the inside out. There will only be 5 for now, so if you know a rock star woman leader, send her my way...

Thanks for providing the confessional. It is truly appreciated.

Best wishes for a New Year filled with abundance, love and laughter,

Nicole

BTW - Since we're speaking of fully owning your message and leading a company from love, my friend Corey Blake from Round Table Companies just wrote an amazing article for HuffPost. Check it out -  2015: An Opportunity to Redefine Your Identity

 

 

2015 Mastermind Group for the Most Brilliant and Savvy Women Entrepreneurs

I'm gathering an intimate group of the most brilliant, savvy and inspirational women entrepreneurs I know.

So, here's what's up. 2015 is the year I pledge to support rock star women entrepreneurs in going bigger from the inside out. Scale is the name of the game and leverage - especially mindset - will allow us to create more wealth and empower more of our gender.

After a ton of requests to create a mastermind similar to the one I've been in for 8 years - The Billionaire Girls Club - I'm offering a high touch version specifically designed to elevate your value and your company's value from the inside out. 

The Art of Leverage Mastermind starts with the biggest point of leverage, mindset. Mindset matters. It shows up in the messaging you use, what you offer, the people you hire, the partners you choose, the asks you make and your bottom line. This is the process I use with my clients to remove all limiting beliefs so they can scale, multiply their valuations, get tied in with partners from Hearst to Coca Cola and create the biggest impact possible even when they have minimal resources.  

I'm including more info below and on the siteIf this is something you are interested in let me know. There will only be 5 women and I'm closing the group on the 31st (actually offering some bonuses before the 24th) so the sooner you let me know the better.  You can read more and sign up here and if you have other questions or just want to catch up, let's have a chat.  

Also, if you know another brilliant women you'd like to nominate that you absolutely love and who would benefit from the power of leverage in her business and the power of leverage in her network, please introduce us. 

You are a rock star leader who is building big things. I want 2015 to be a huge year for you because you deserve it. Let's shift the game, truly own our worth and create massive momentum and abundance. 

Love to have you be one of the 5.

-Nicole Casanova