I had the opportunity to brush up on my entrepreneurial skills and meet like-minded female entrepreneurs at the first annual SoGal Summit last Saturday morning, an entrepreneurship conference for young women. Despite having to hit the alarm clock several times, I appreciated that the conference was held on a Saturday. There were no urgent work emails to respond to and I could focus on the conference. Once I was fully caffeinated, I jumped in my car and headed to University of Southern California where the event was being held. I was pleasantly surprised at the great turnout the conference brought its first year. Nearly 450 entrepreneurial women attended and came ready to network and learn from fellow entrepreneurs.
The conference kicked off with venture capitalist Eva Ho founder of Susa Ventures, one of the few female venture capitalist is her field. Her story was enough to not only inspire hundreds of entrepreneurs in the room, but also inspire anyone who loves a good underdog story. Eva grew up in public housing, was terribly shy, and didn’t interact with a computer until she got to college. After college, she had the opportunity to work at Google and You Tube during its infancy and quickly moved up the ranks. Now she’s advising and investing in start-ups and speaks in front of hundreds.
After Eva infused some energy and inspiration into the crowd, we were ready to move into breakout sessions with the summit’s panelists who were speaking on topics like building a brand, launching a company, and raising funds. On the panel where seasoned entrepreneurs such as Leura Fine; founder of Laurel and Wolf, Julie Thorne Engles; founder of Tribemint, Shona Mitchell; managing director of Headspace, Melinda Moore; chief marketing officer of Crowdfunder and dozens of other panelist speaking on various subjects. These women have seen it and experienced everything either through their own start-up or investing and betting on someone else’s. It was amazing to hear, first-hand, about the amazing growth that’s happening in start-ups, especially in tech.
Probably the most impactful part of the conference for me, personally, were the Speed Mentoring Sessions where you sat in a small group and spoke to a few of the panelists about your start-up. No matter your level of expertise, it was an opportunity to make contacts, ask questions specific to your start-up, and listen to other women going through similar experiences. It was like getting a personal consultation about your start-up from experienced entrepreneurs.
It’s inspiring to see entrepreneurship alive and well and women willing to help other women. If you’re starting a new company or have an idea and don’t know where to start, this event may be for you.