What you missed at the Women 2.0 Conference (SF 2013)

Yesterday I attended the Women 2.0 conference: “The Next Billion”, which was a whirlwind of talks, panels, pitches, and networking. Interesting mix of people and topics relevant to entrepreneurs. It’s the morning now evening after, and my brain is still full.

If you didn’t get the chance to attend, here’s what you missed!

TL;DR version
- If you want to make your presentation/pitch memorable and entertaining, fill it with stories and one-liners. This is the stuff I still remember today.
- Shaherose Charania (Co-Founder & CEO, Women 2.0) has some amazing, gravity-defying hair.

Full version

Fran Maier (Match.com, TrustE)

Reminds us that women hold most of the purchasing power, and you should go after them.

- Pre Match.com, personals were dominated by men, so they focused on creating an experience attractive to women. Notably, Fran told male co-workers that no, they could not ask the “weight” question.
- Women don’t like to be “nickel-and-dimed”, so subscriptions work better than per-message charges.
- “Personals aren’t inventory, they’re PEOPLE looking for love!”

Michelle Zatlyn (CloudFare)

Cool talk with some practical and philosophical advice on thinking big and growing a HUGE company (1B views/day)

- Big market, impacting >100 million people. Think BIG: “We want to make the internet a better place.”
- Execution (have to be faster than incumbents) – CloudFare registration was 5 minutes, compared with 2 weeks at other companies.
- Easy to use is the new killer feature.
- Choose partners carefully (in work and in life)
- Build a voice by blogging early, even before you have a product. Women 2.0 and HackerNews are great outlets. Unlike corporate CEOs, You can have a personality :)
- Take more pictures.
- Do Land Grabs NOW. yourname.com, @yourname, etc.

Selina Tobaccowala (Evite.com, SurveyMonkey)

Laid back fireside chat with heart-warming tale about Evite’s humble beginnings.

- Evite ran out of Selina’s Stanford Dorm Room.
- Didn’t realize how big it had gotten until the server accidentally got unplugged and she started getting calls.
- Evite and SurveyMonkey are both “inherently viral” products which really helps with growth. Yup, that’s true, and that’s awesome.

Facebook growth talk

Julie Zhuo and Naomi Gleit (Facebook)

How did Facebook grow from 1M to 1B users?

  • 1,2,3 Approach – Understand (analytics), Identify (the problem), Execute
  • Macrobarriers to growth: (lack of) Open Registration, and then (lack of) Internationalization
  • Microbarriers: Registration/sign-up flow drop off. Improved sign-ups by 9M/year just by breaking up sign-up flow into multiple, digestible screens, rather than one big long intimidation one. Note: Email confirmation during sign-up shouldn’t completely block access to the site.

Funny interchange between the always snarky Kara Swisher and Naomi Gleit.

K: “So do you always choose the text that won the A/B test, or do you sometimes go with your gut?”
N: “Well, a lot of things go into choosing a winner.”
K: “Sort of a Steve Jobs model of A/B testing then?”

Duane Forrester (Bing)

This was the last 15 minute talk before lunch, so I was faced with the choice of getting a jump on the bathroom line (1000 ladies, y’all), or watching the talk. Was secretly hoping it would prove uninformative in the first few minutes to remove the dilemma. Unfortunately, that was not to be…

15 minutes to your fame

  • 80% internet sessions start with search, so your content needs to be tailored to search queries.
  • TODAY: get analytics, and set a baseline
  • “SEO is simple.” Nail the user experience -> people will start talking -> the search engines will come find you
  • Order of importance: Content, Social, UX, Link building, SEO
  • Social matters in search today. Engines use it, and engines SHOW it in their results.
Disruption panel


DISRUPTION PANEL (Hetal Pandya, Jessica Scorpio, Monisha Perkash, Rashmi Sinha, Aileen Lee)

When you are thinking about disruption, think about how life is going to be different because of what you’re building.

When Aileen asked: “How will life be different 5 years from now.”

  • Your body will have a voice – you’ll check your body stats the same way you check your email
  • “A shared car on every block”
  • “Age of context” – less and less opening of multiple apps/technologies, less repetitive tasks to make life better and more convenient
  • “People talking directly with their own voices” – Netflix company culture talk is a great example of this.
Funding panel


FUNDING PANEL

“What’s the traction bar for a Series A?”
- User growth AND engagement/churn rates
- Convertible notes can put entrepreneur and investor at odds.
- You want someone with enough skin in the game to push you to success

“Should everyone want to raise an A”
- Do you want to sell your company someday
- Do you believe you can be a top 10-15 site in a given year (because desired exit will be >$500M”

Paula Long (EqualLogic)

Really memorable and entertaining talk from Paula Long who sold her company to Dell for 1.4 Billion dollars. She was all about one-liners, which made her talk memorable and entertaining. Great change of pace for so late in the day as well. Note to self: make your points tweet-sized whenever possible.

-”God created the world in 6 days, but he didn’t have an installed base.”
-Must reads for entrepeneurs: If you give a Mousse a Muffin, Green Eggs and Ham
-”Only new mistakes”
-”Anything for a buck doesn’t scale…”

And then my favorite thing to have ever happened in unscripted reality:

Audience Question: “Paula, you have such great one-liners – what’s your twitter so we can follow you?”
Paula: “I don’t tweet, I don’t Facebook, and I’m barely LinkedIn.”

Vivek Wadhwa
Presented his research into the backgrounds and profiles of women in tech, and his next project is a crowdsourced book. Interested? Check it out at wadhwa.com

- Education and Family factors were not as influential as he thought, so what is causing the gender disparity in tech?

Emerging Markets Panel

I was starving at this point, to such an extent that I started downing gum and mints, so I may have missed some stuff. Next time, bring a granola bar!

- Legal and production cost differences can make international development centers a great option for startups.
- Cultural differences can lead to entrepeneurship being discouraged, so Women 2.0 has work to do internationally!

Lynda Weinman (lynda.com)

Lynda has been providing online education videos on web design and development since the 90s, and recently accepted $100M in funding for the first time in her companies history. This talk was mostly about that journey and the benefits of online, video based education (which I think we can all agree is awesome even without hearing more about it).

Highlights:
- Audience member categorized lynda.com as “All you can learn.”
- According to Lynda, “Content is queen.” It really must be, because the internet is full of content – what is it that makes people come to lynda.com specifically?

John Farmer, The White House Presidential Innovation Fellows Program (PIF)

This was a recruiting pitch for the Presidential Innovation Fellows Program, and a pretty effective one at that. Whoever writes speeches over at the White House – great great job. I actually was riveted.

“We want a government that moves at Silicon Valley speed.”
“A government that ships.”
“Because your country needs you.”

They are accepting applications for the second round of fellows, due in March. Check it out here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/innovationfellows

Valentine’s themed cocktail hour


Other Conference highlights:

  • Chocolate covered strawberries at happy hour
  • Shaherose’s hair. What the rock star?
  • The customized Women2 Conference Yapp app. Agenda, bios, twitter feed, all in one place.

And this doesn’t even cover the PITCH competition, which alone shed so much light on what makes a great pitch and what investors are looking for/concerned about. That’ll have to be a topic for another day.

And in case you were wondering – yes – in high school, I was the girl everyone borrowed notes from.

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5 Thoughts on “What you missed at the Women 2.0 Conference (SF 2013)

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