It’s not everyday that you get 21 up and coming Canadian women entrepreneurs together. That’s exactly what the Canadian Consulate in Silicon Valley did with their recent TechWomen program in an effort to provide Canadian women entrepreneurs in the ICT space the opportunity to expand their business networks in Silicon Valley.
“As CEO of a growing startup, it was invaluable to get insights and lessons-learned-advice from those who've done it before or are killing it right now”, said Christine Sommers, CEO of ePact Network. “I'm taking away at least 20 implementable action items for my team and myself”
The recent three-day program was like an MBA for startups comprised of one-on-one meetings, workshops, panels and networking events in San Francisco and Palo Alto. Some of the sessions included how to build a successful brand and drive team engagement at the Stanford D School, how to partner with the likes of Google, Salesforce, Twitter, HP and other giants, scaling big, customer acquisition and retention as well as insider advice on fundraising from major Silicon Valley VCs.
“As opposed to the many tech events the are focused just on fundraising and networking, this was a wholesome educational week,” said Tori MacLean, cofounder of BeauCoo. “I've taken actionable items on design, user acquisition, cap table structure and monetization strategy back to my team as we work on monetization and scaling our marketing over the next few months”.
Each of the 21 women were matched with a mentor from Silicon Valley who they will work with directly over the next several months for advice, guidance and introductions to enhance and accelerate their business and overall company growth.
“What struck me the most about the Valley is the culture of sharing. Even complete strangers were willing to go for coffee and share their expertise and provide feedback,” said Annalea Krebs, Founder and CEO of ethicalDeal. “You just have to have the guts to ask. I'm going back and sharing that energy with my team.”
In my opinion, just like startups need mentors and advisers, startup communities need the same by way of partnerships and bridges to larger communities—it makes for a better global ecosystem. The Canadian Consulate has been a great supporter and evangelist for Canadian startups and it is initiatives like these that keep many of us going.