On November 14 and 15, Events Coordinator Lindsay Hill and I (two-thirds of the C100’s all-women team) headed to Las Vegas for the Women2.0 Conference. The Las Vegas addition of the Women2.0 Conference brought entrepreneurs, investors, designers and lovers of tech and fashion together from all over the world to encourage diversity in the tech sector.
Team C100 connected with lots of inspiring Canadian women in tech, from all parts of Canada! And of course we loved supporting Shaherose Charania, co-founder of Women2.0, proud Canadian and a C100 Charter Member.
My top 5 takeaways from Women2.0 Conference, Las Vegas Edition, 2013:
1. Technology drives social good by making suffering visible
Megan Smith, VP of Google Ventures, explained in her lecture titled “Networked Talent, Heroic Engineering and the Start of the Third Wave” that technology entrepreneurs have a unique opportunity to see the interconnection of the world. Technology innovations have benefited every field—from education to anthropology to medicine. As the problems of the world become increasingly visible, technology entrepreneurs have the opportunity to raise awareness and fill those needs.
2. Innovation happens through unlikely relationships
Tony Hsieh, CEO at Zappos, explained that innovation happens when people run into others outside of their industry. He urged entrepreneurs to create an environment that facilitates serendipitous connections—not only between team members, but between team members and the larger community. One way that the Zappos team is working to facilitate serendipity is by integrating Zappos work spaces directly into the city of Las Vegas. When we interact with others outside of our field, we gain a broader perspective that can lead to unexpected innovation. In addition, mixing with many kinds of people can provide an opportunity to test highly technical ideas on non-technical people.
3. Listen to your users and you will succeed
Bridgette Beam, Global Entrepreneurship Manager at Google, explained that one-hundred hours of YouTube videos are uploaded every minute. She also noted that by the end of 2013, there will be more mobile devices on the planet than people. There is so much noise in the tech sector that sometimes it feels impossible to be heard. So what can we do? Get back to the basics and start listening to your users. Test different aspects of your platform that inform decision-making and see what your users do! Beam noted that busy tech entrepreneurs often don’t take enough time to listen to their users, explore new ideas, and test their product. However, this is a determining factor for long-term success, so put it on the calendar!
4. Create an environment where women feel welcome
C100 Charter Member and Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes wrote recently that women-led startups have a 35% higher return on investment than startups run by men. However, women are drastically underrepresented in today’s top tech incubators. In a panel discussion with Jeff Clavier (Softech VC), Kay Koplovitz, founder of the USA Network, expressed frustration that women simply don’t apply to tech incubators. She noted that the reason that many women find it difficult to work in the tech sector is not due to a lack of interest, but rather that women simply do not feel welcome in “an old boys club.” Creating an environment where women feel welcome is crucial to encouraging women to apply to tech accelerators and tech jobs in general.
5. Inspiring change means asking questions
I often find that the best conferences and lectures leave me with lots of great answers AND great questions. Women2.0 was no exception— and in the days following Women2.0, I have been asking lots of questions. How can we get the 71% of male computer teachers who believe that boys are intrinsically better at tech than girls to think differently? How can we encourage and support more campaigns like Women2.0 to inspire future women engineers? Women2.0 Conference provided the perfect platform to renew this conversation, and I look forward to continuing it in the months ahead.
For a full recap of the conference, head over to the Women2.0 website. The conference was full of amazing content, presented by leaders in the tech industry.
Below: Team C100 with lots of amazing Canadian women in tech!
Going to the next Women2.0 Conference in 2014? We hope to connect with you there!
Rose Blake (@rosedblake)
Communications Coordinator at the C100.