Calling All Women Entrepreneurs!

The Bay Area Startup Weekend is just a couple of days away! I’m excited and honored to be one of the judges, and to meet all the amazing entrepreneurs out there who are working so hard to bring their ideas to life.

Participating in this event is extra special to me because it reminds me of my own entrepreneurial beginnings, way back in 2001 when I launched my email marketing company, VerticalResponse. We were a little early to the game, the tech bubble had just burst, and being a woman in tech wasn’t exactly opening any new doors. But I persisted anyway, and now we have 100+ employees and have been profitable for the past six years.

Today’s landscape for women entrepreneurs looks a lot better, but still not ideal. There are only 12 Fortune 500 companies run by women (down from 15 last year). Of 22 public technology companies with at least $6 billion in revenue, none had chief executives who were women, according to Equilar, an executive compensation research company. And a Kauffman Foundation report noted that women historically have received very low share of all available venture capital, as little as 4 to 9 percent.

The good news is, female entrepreneurs have more support now than ever before. Organizations like Women 2.0, a global network and social platform for aspiring and current female founders of technology ventures, simply didn’t exist when I launched VerticalResponse and was banging on doors along Sand Hill Road. (We never did get VC funding, but I was lucky enough to have family and friends who believed in me and my idea.) Other amazing organizations, like Women’s Initiative here in the Bay Area, the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and the American Business Women’s Association (ABWA) are doing great things to elevate and encourage women to pursue entrepreneurship. And more and more women are occupying highly visible positions at top tech companies, like Lynn Jurich of SunRun Home Solar and Marissa Mayer of Google, which is really inspiring.

I encourage all aspiring entrepreneurs – whether or not you’re a woman – to take advantage of the resources, networking opportunities and support groups out there. I can’t wait hear your pitches on Sunday!

Written by: Janine Popick, CEO of VerticalResponse, and Startup Weekend Judge

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