This past Saturday, Y Combinator hosted it’s first Female Founders Conference in Mountain View, CA. Founded in 2005 as an angel investment firm for chosen startups, Y Combinator has funded popular tech companies such as Dropbox, Airbnb, Rap Genius, Codecademy, Reddit, and many others. Y Combinator co-founder Jessica Livingston moderated the sold-out, women-only event, and there was a lot of great information being shared. Curious, I spent my Saturday morning as an *unofficial* attendee peeping the live-stream. Here are the 5 key pieces of non-technical advice I gathered from the conference:
5. Forget delegating, your job as a founder is to do everything. Most startups are small teams and don’t have the funding to hire a complete staff or contractors outside of interns. Therefore unless you’re involved in the technical side of creating products and services, tasks such as PR, raising capital, incorporation filing, and general administrative management will fall on your shoulders.
4. Yes, you can remain true to your nature. Most tech entrepreneurs may feel more comfortable behind a computer than interacting with people on a daily basis, and that’s okay. Know who you are and what type of environment you feel most stable working in. It’s not about how outgoing you are, it’s about your ability to get the job done. Produce great results and clients will judge your social skills, or lack thereof, less.
3. Know what you’re up against but keeping working regardless. You may be a single parent, Black, a woman or all of the above that lacks the social capital needed to succeed at the rate most white males with the same education do. The important thing is to stay on your course anyway. Create a strategy on how to deal with potential hurdles in your way, then formulate a work plan that is tailored around addressing those hurdles but allows you to still meet your business goals.
2. Your likelihood of success will rest on your ability to withstand rejection. Your family and friends may think you’re crazy for quitting your job to focus 100% of your time on a startup. You might host an event and not have one single member of the press show to cover it. You will probably be told “no” by investors and potential collaborators several times before finally getting an affirmative. As a startup founder though, you have to be determined and get use to rejection. Remember, most startups fail not because the services they offer aren’t great, but because the founders would not stick around when things go south.
1. Make Something People Want. To be profitable, you don’t want registered users. You want loyal, active users. The difference lies in which is most likely to become an actual customer. Registered users include those who sign up for your service or email listing, but never participate. Active users will return to your site, continue using your product, participate in discussion, and spread the word about your services. Registered users become active ones only if you are providing content, products, and/or services they want. A great strategy is to be empathetic by thinking of yourself as a target user. What would you want in a product or service? Use that insight to harness and guide creation.
To watch the entire conference in full, click here. Fast forward to the 37 min mark to catch the action after the intro.
**Photo Credit: http://blog.ycombinator.com/highlights-from-ycs-first-female-founders-conference