Tag Archives: Diversity

Global Good Games - flyer 1

Startup Tech: Lessons Learned – Part 1

Doing a startup you are truly passionate about is an amazing experience. It’s truly rewarding and I could see why entrepreneurs work so hard. They don’t consider it work when they are passionate about the business they are building.

Building a business is tough. Startup fundraising could be difficult for both women and men. Even your supporters and friends will show their true colors. Don’t take anything personally. Learn your lessons and move on. There’s no time to sit and lick your wounds.

Lessons learn:

  • When you walk with Quiet Giants, you need not fear wrestling with the 800 pound gorilla.
  • 800 pound gorillas are no match for a 100 wolves. It’s just a matter of time. Find your pack and start strategizing.
  • Follow the Golden Rule: One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.
  • Karma will pay you back tenfold. Live long enough you will see it all.
  • The devil is in the details – don’t let anyone rush or belittle you for your decisions.
  • The higher you climb, the harder you fall.
  • Honesty, sincerity and integrity are the hardest things to fake. People can see through the bullshit. True colors always show.
  • Be patient and listen intently. Ask the questions your gut is yearning to know. You learn more from listening and asking than you do speaking.
  • Communication is 70% non-verbal. Try to meet in person as much as possible. Look everyone in the eye to see their sincerity. Video chat would be a good option also. It’s not time consuming in the long run. Cleaning up a mess is. Trust your instincts.
  • Don’t take “NO” for an answer. Unless, your intuition tells you to run…always trust that.
  • Your reputation stays with you, especially in this day and age where privacy no longer exist.
  • Work hard and earn your keep, respect will be automatic. Those with skill need not boast or show boat. The quality of your work will speak for itself. We all reap what we sow.
  • Don’t associate with people who are Social Liabilities.  Disassociate yourself from anyone and everyone that your gut tells you to run from.
  • Be careful who you choose to do business with. Some people fear marriage but will jump into a business partnership quickly. Both of you could get fucked. At least with a marriage, you get laid.
  • You never know when people are vetting you. You never know what they will find when Google-stalking you.
  • Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes it takes a while to truly know all the lessons you were meant to learn. It’s all worth it in the long run.
  • Learn your lessons or the universe will keep sending you more of the same until you are ready to receive the next lessons.
  • Some consider me weak and naive. Some consider me wise and tough as nails. It’s all a matter of perspective and perception. It’s not my business to worry about what others think of me.
  • Timing is everything. Follow-up with people as soon as you can. The early bird catches the worm.

Personally, my flaw is that I try to see the glass as half full vs half empty.  A good friend calls it “distorted reality.” I call it “augmented reality.” I choose to see the best in people, especially if they have potential. For this I have gained many life experiences and true friends. I also have been stabbed in the back and continuously bitten. Yes, once bitten and twice shy. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. There will never be a third. However, I refuse to let this taint it for the new people I meet and new experiences presented to me… for it will also limit the goodness in people and experiences I will truly enjoy.

 

Ladies of Launch3

Diversity and Women in Tech at the Launch Festival 2013

This year’s Launch Festival was a very interesting experience. Like previous years, Jason and the crew organized a great show. Brilliant pitches and launching companies with abundant opportunities. However, this year, what stood out to me, as a woman in tech, was that they had a “Diversity in Tech Panel” discussing gender issues facing the tech industry today. The panel had Freda Kapor Klein, Vivek Wadhwa, Danilo Campos and Adria Richards. Adria brought up the fact because she is female she isn’t given as much credit for what she knows but rather questioned. They brought up some great points about how we treat women differently and discriminate against them.  Wadhwa shared how he was questioned if he “was just trying to get laid” by defending women in the industry. He’s writing a book on women in tech currently. Please contact  Vivek Wadhwa (@wadhwa) if you have any personal stories to share.

I applauded the panel and the effort to bring this gender disparity to the surface. The Silicon Valley has been buzzing about this female revolution, especially with Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” International Women’s Day happening this Friday March 8th and the myriad of events surrounding women in tech.

My absolute favorite moment was when Jason publicly called out a booth who had hired booth babes, breaking the event’s rules. Via Twitter, Jason  said “kicked out as$&hole who broke booth babe rule–banned 4life! @nayafia: this booth upset me” I obviously was very happy to see this sexist behavior squashed, so I retweeted, started telling all my friends and female founders about it. The next morning, the same booth babes tried to enter the event and were denied. They asked, “why aren’t we allowed in? Is it because we are pretty and wear high heels?” Sorry it’s so complex to understand, but if one is hired to be there as booth decoration that’s a “booth babe” not sales, but maybe negative marketing and PR.

That morning, Jason made mention of the “No Stripper Rule” and how this upset him b/c they broke the rules, it demeans women and he wanted to keep the integrity of this BUSINESS event. I was the lone supporter loudly cheering in the middle of the room. My husband and brother were sitting a few rows behind me and heard all the comments from men about my “volume issues.” I’m not sorry and NO ONE can shut me up. Seems like some men didn’t agree with Jason, they liked the booth babes. They cheered everything else that Jason said though. I thank Aron Solomon for his tweet.

Aron Solomon 4 Mar
Seriously????? WTF. The whip is quite the added classy touch. #Launch2013 #fail pic.twitter.com/WzRx2myfqR
Out with the Booth Babes

There shouldn’t be sexual overtones in a professional setting. What was more appalling is that the founder/CEO is a woman. Shame on her for objectifying women. Thank you Jason for banning them from the event. We need more men in power to speak up about this bad behavior so we can effect REAL change.

Also at the event, there was a public pitch by a Singaporean startup, “YouCommentate,”  that was offensive. The statements were off-colored and sexist. Think SF losing the Superbowl, Charlie Sheen comments and other unrepeatable things. I was frustrated…ok fine….I was pissed.  Anyone who knows me, knows my close ties and love for Singapore. So I felt the need to publicly call them out on their bullshit. I named the company and gave all my unfiltered comments via Twitter. I called them out to meet me at “the blinking car” in the expo area so we could discuss this situation face to face. From the time it took for me to walk from my seat to the blinking car, I received a bunch of retweets b/c people agreed with my anger + a bunch of Singaporean responses since we all run in the same small tech circle.

I met with Ken McHugh and his partner from “YouCommentate.” We had a nice friendly discussion about their pitch. They were nice guys who got horrible advice on how to make their pitch more “edgy.” They apologized for their bad behavior and reinforced how they fully support the American 1st amendment of free speech so appreciated my comments.  Given their name “YouCommentate,” they knew it was coming. We walked away from the discussion understanding each other better and I posted updated tweets given the situation and so did Ken.

The next day, when I found YouCommentate and I introduced them to the billionaire Angel investor I was roaming around with. YouCommentate appreciated the opportunity to pitch to and receive feedback from the Angel. The Angel actually liked the product so they continued to chat. We walked away shaking hands and smiling. We have followed up with each other after the event also.

This motivated me to gather a few of the female founders for a photo opp on the last day. Then at last happy hour event on the last day, I asked the DJ to ask the female participants to gather on the stairs, so we ALL did. I don’t know the official count but we filled the stairs in the center. I wanted us to be counted because WE DO COUNT. In this world, you never know who you might piss off and how. The tech industry needs “sensitivity training”…that’s the key to true diversity. Given the current issues with Women in Tech in the Silicon Valley and internationally, I hope more men and women in leadership roles make immediate and lasting change since it’s long overdue. We need more females to Lean In, take leadership roles and NOT SHUT UP as they help other women succeed.

 

Nonprofit donations for Women's Causes Grew Exponentially

Girls in Tech – it’s time for a REAL change. Invest in women, here’s why.

The women’s revolution has definitely been heating up in the past few years. Here is the staggering proof. Look at the chart! The giant spike in donations to female related causes is because of many female leaders and activists that are not afraid to ROAR!!! Female business leaders, entertainers, spiritual leaders and women everywhere are all joining forces to amplify the volume of our voices. Organizations like Women Moving Millions, Code Pink, NOW, TEDxWomen and many more empowering all of us to seize the day.

Today unlike any other time in my lifetime, the feminist movement is raging. I am so excited to be in San Francisco for all of this. In this city, people are open minded and liberal, in the same wave length as I. I feel very at home here. However, the tech industry which is dominant in the Bay Area, is totally a BOY’S world! Even though we represent 51% of the populations, at every event I find myself being one of the few women in the room.

There are many organizations devoted to empowering women in the tech industry. Girls in Tech, Geek Girl Dinners, Women2.0, Girls Who Codes, etc. are some of the organizations paving the way in this movement. They gather together, mentor and nurture each other. But where are they when it comes to taking a stand? Making a pitch? Taking a seat at the table?

Women, we need to rise up. It’s time. The time is now. Stand up. Scream. Shout. Blaze a path that few other women have gone. Give back, mentor, help the next generation of girls so they could rise above societal oppression….even in America in 2013. Make it count, we only have one life!

Did you know?

The high-tech companies that women build are more capital- efficient than the norm. [2011]*

Despite often being capital-constrained, women-owned businesses are more likely to survive the transition from raw start-up to established company than the average company. [2011]

Organizations that are the most inclusive of women in top management achieve 35 percent higher returns on equity and 34 percent better total return to shareholders versus their peers.

Read more

Continue reading “Girls in Tech – it’s time for a REAL change. Invest in women, here’s why.” »

selection

Great World at BeMyApp Game Hackathon San Francisco #bmagamessf

The BeMyApp WorldCup hackathon is dedicated to innovative mobile games and will take place in Berlin, San Francisco and Paris simultaneously!

- Roughly 400 people came to the opening night in San Francisco, Berlin, and Paris
- Over 80 game ideas were pitched
- More than 30 projects were voted in and built over the course of the weekend in all three cities
- 3 finalists were nominated by a a panel of judges in each city

I pitched an social good video game idea called “Citizenville” to validate if it was worth pursuing. Citizenville is a community building simulated game developed to generate donations for REAL nonprofits. I had been toying around with the idea for a while now and finally had the courage to pitch it. I was inspired by a speech by Peter Thiel about true innovation or lack there of in the few decades. I fully agree with him because it seems like only a small percentage of these ideas are recycled and they aren’t inventing something new and revolutionary. They are making something new of something old. I want to change that but there’s a bigger picture…stay tuned.

There were 26 ideas pitched, I was selected. We then formed teams, which was chaotic but at least the event organizers had coded badges which helped. We teamed up with Lane Allen-deisgner, Tim Sexton-story teller, Will Mason-developer and Gael Buchy-developer to become Team “Great World.” We changed our name b/c I only quick through it together when I registered for the event and signed up for the pitch on a spur of the moment. We assumed Zygna bought it. (more in next blog)

We noticed that even though we had a lot of good feedback about the idea itself, it wasn’t the most sexy latest tech project that attracts engineers. Something to think about when developing the product in the long run. My strategy was “Dream Big, build small.” So that’s what we did. We attacked just the game element of my full idea. Given the skills and team composition, we had to work with everyone’s strength, divide and conquer….for 48 hours!

The event started Friday evening and final pitches were at 7pm on Sunday. Six teams pitched to three judges. We appreciated the feedback and the ability to fully crank out an idea or a MVP in 2 days. Developers took on the challenge from sponsors’ new tech products. Interesting to see the innovation that comes out of that! 3 out of 7 projects in HTML5. Who said HTML5 isn’t for gaming?

In addition to the game itself, we built a nice RESTful API back end which was used to manage users, game state, notifications, and of course payments. Payments were support by Stripe, which was simple and easy to use, Twilio handled SMS, which was easy as usual, and Amazon did transactional email and platform with EC2, SES, and Route 53.

We won the sponsors prize from the awesome folks from Ludei  – $500 in gift cards for the top game developed using the Ludei APIs. Face’MPoker - bringing video to mobile poker! Voting is open only until tomorrow morning PST and it’d be great to get your help http://worldcup.bemyapp.com/ A shout out to all great teams who took part of the hackathon, you guys all kicked ass - Think Like a Doctor, BayWheels, DrawBeyond, FlyFar, Dino2, Scuba Bowl and Great World. We hope that all of you will continue working on your game projects.

The best part about the event was the feedback that was received. I were given a message that my idea is worth pursing but on a much larger scale and now is the right time and there are interested stakeholders out there since my idea has the potential for far reaching global good. “Dream big and buckle up,” is all my mentor had to say.

 

safe activist win

Team Safe Activist at DeveloperWeek Hackathon – Conference & Festival 2013 San Francisco

The DeveloperWeek Conference & Festival 2013, February 1-7, 2013, combines a 3-day hackathon (Feb. 1-3), 3-day educational conference (Feb. 4-6), technology-specific app development contests, developer tech exhibitors, 1-day app pitch day (Feb. 7), with keynote talks from the top engineers across app development, data science, and mobile deployment.

The DeveloperWeek API+Mashups Hackathon is a 43-hour app-building contest in downtown San Francisco from Friday February 1st until Sunday February 3rd – and is also the official kick-off of DeveloperWeek 2013! The purpose of the hackathon is to give developers, designers, and entrepreneurs the chance to pitch app ideas – form teams – build a prototype of their app – and present to the hackathon judges for a chance to be one of the top 5 hackathon winners who get “incubated” during DeveloperWeek.

There were 27 projects. You can build any app you want to – however you get ‘extra points’ from the judges if your app integrates an external API. That can be anything from google maps or twitter OAuth to one of the sponsor’s API’s!

I’m proud of Will Mason, Senior Software Engineer at Twilio and Jimmy Duong, Art Director/Graphic Designer for their first hackathon. They had a great time learning as they joined up with Marjorie Green, Jamie Nadle and Gabriel Adauto to become Team Safe Activist. During the hackathon, they developed a mobile donation app that vets nonprofit organizations. Each were assigned each a specialty to focus on and all went at it. Jamie and Marjorie are both from Cisco and received the PayPal scholarship that included $500 to pursue their idea, which they plan to do. I didn’t join the hackathon but provided the nonprofit industry info and plan to help them in the future to see this product go through.

Prizes include..
-PayPal: PayPal will offer the top (5) teams $10,000 in waived transaction fees, totaling $50k
-Mashape: $100 x 5 teams
-New Relic: New Relic Certificates offering a year of New Relic free at the Pro level (a $1788 value)

…and more!

Read more… Continue reading “Team Safe Activist at DeveloperWeek Hackathon – Conference & Festival 2013 San Francisco” »