We were honored on Tuesday this week to participate in a high energy panel discussion with women entrepreneurs hosted by WPT at the Canadian Consulate in NY. The 2-day mini-conference is targeting women owned startups from Canada looking to build strategic relationships across the border, and importantly with each other. For many of them -- they were meeting for the first time in NYC :) .
Women Powering Technology (WPT) is an organization created to inspire, support, elevate and empower women in technology personally, professionally and together as a community. Angelique Mohring - CEO of GainX was the catalyst in getting the organizations and startups to come together.
The Canadian Consulate in NY (@CanadaNY) fosters innovation within Canada and globally. We have had the privilege to work with the Canadian Technology Accelerator program at the Canadian Consulate in Boston. It was a wonderful opportunity to connect with the folks in NY as well.
The Deputy Consulate General of Canada - Heidi Kutz, leveraging the attendees' social media footprint eloquently described the women, their roles and aspirations, in this way,
Roles - "Business women, CEOs, founders, coaches, epidemiologists, solution architects, professional mediators, best overall oktoberfest family and cultural events organizers, two of them served as strategic positions in male dominated corporation"
Things that value most to them - "Aspire to passion in innovation, volunteering and promoting community engagement. Optimistic and upto the challenge"
Things they are good at - "Scale and deliberate innovation. Advance contiuous process improvement championships. Take clients from concept to go live with confidence and do this seamlessly"
She ended this great introduction with this great quote - "in this market who you know is as important as what you know! ".
IBM - Eric Apse from IBM Venture Capital Group and Joe Perry from East Region Innovation Center Ecosystem were part of an interesting panel to discuss the value of partnerships for startups.
Some key insights from them:
Building Ecosystems and then leveraging those relationships to understand need for skills and extending your reach
Its really about value that each partnership brings. Both parties should benefit from the relationship. Companies that are most successful that understand their market well. Establishing successful partnership is understanding and defining value that both orgs need to demonstrate success.
One of the strengths of IBM - all resources that we have to offer. One of the challenges of IBM - all resources that we have to offer. This is where our IBM Global Entrepreneur Program provides access to resources to help ease navigating the IBM portfolio to determine the exact fit.
How do you maintain a cadence of remaining innovative? IBM has acquired over 100 companies over the last decade. We are always redefining ourselves at every stage and come out on top. IBM has transformed itself based on what's happening in technology and also what's happening in society on a whole. Everytime we have a new CEO...its always been a push to say focus on the customer and adapt accordingly. Same for building strategic relationships based on what the customer wants.
Some of the Startups at the Conference:
Charity Republic creates efficiencies in an education system that is still predominantly paper-based. Charity Republic recently launched Hour Republic, an online and smartphone solution that helps students easily track their volunteer and co-op (work placement) activities, find volunteer opportunities in the community that are of interest to them, and share their volunteer experiences with fellow students.
Plasticity is SaaS-based employee engagement software based on the study of Neuroscience.
RENOMii is Cloud based project management software for contractors & homeowners.
Tacit Innovations is fast growing Canadian technology company recognized for transforming the way restaurants engage and service their customers.
ODScore has unique, proven performance technology and methods for implementing performance measurement, hiring, learning, succession, goal attainment and mentoring.
StyleID is a style identifier that cross references your favourite movies, music videos, television & award shows to help consumers identify the designer of items worn, used or featured.
Marketing meets Tech:
Mobile applications, web apps, websites, content management systems, search engine optimization, marketing strategy, marketing technology, marketing automation ...
We ended the discussion by going around the table and everyone listing an example of a business pitfall that startups can learn from: .
partnering with large corporations you need to know you have to always sell
always know your exit strategy. Make sure one person in your company has complete financial reign and understands where you want to go with your business
learn the financial aspects
make sure you have the right skills in the right place
you need to know the answer to "what success looks like"
The panel discussion was followed by 6 one-on-one sessions with the startups and IBM. The startups received advice on their pitches, investment, the challenges of being a women in tech, and so on. The women took lessons on how to make their value proposition concise and always include proof points and customer stories to help tell their story.
All in all the day was packed with entrepreneurial energy all around!