Last Tuesday, I had the pleasure of offering the welcome at the Santa Clara University screening of the award-winning documentary, She Started It. The film follows five women over two years as they launch, build, shut down, sell, and start again. We see them as they pitch VCs on the phone, on stage (e.g., 500 Startups), and in offices. It's a global perspective, taking us from San Francisco to Mississippi, France, and Vietnam. Cameos from luminaries like White House CTO Megan Smith; GoldieBlox CEO Debbie Sterling; and Ruchi Sanghvi, the first female engineer at Facebook, provide a broad context for the events.

More than a Film

From the Grace Hopper Conference to Santa Clara University, the film is often the start of a great conversation with leading women founders, investors, and mentors. At our Santa Clara Screening we were honored to have:

Some of My Key Moments from the Panel

A comment from a parent saying she will never tell her kids to "be realistic again." This is in response to the clear tension parents can feel between keeping their children safe, and letting them challenge the status quo as they strive to build a business.

Hearing the responsibility we all have for sharing all the culture and process that makes Silicon Valley support innovation and venture creation; the "share it forward" approach. I like to say that "SCU brings Silicon Valley to the world," as we host students from around the world for their Silicon Valley immersions and degrees. The idea that we all have a responsibility is one that I look forward to supporting. 

The importance of asking for help. Again, this is one that I think was an eye-opener for many in the audience. I tend to see this in a slightly different form when running negotiation workshops -- we have to share that it is critical to ask for what you want. ...and to negotiate for what you want. I'm not sure we're seeing the shift we need to in women negotiating their job offers (versus men doing it as a matter of course). 

The energy from one of our CAPE (California Program for Entrepreneurship) participants when she learned of the possibility of deferred legal payments. Debra Vernon later shared:

One key takeaway is that founders should know about [the fee deferral] option and ask for it and see what the lawyer can do to help. In my practice, I have also developed some fixed priced packages to accelerate formation and fundraising that help startups stay on budget.

The diversity of the audience. Entrepreneurs, and those with an entrepreneurial mindset, from ages 7 to 70; men; women; investors; educators; and other mentors.

The beautiful flow of the conversation and the willingness to share ups as well as downs.


My biggest thanks go to Leavey School of Business Dean’s Executive Professor, Tanya Monsef Bunger for bringing this film to campus. Tanya is the program director of Santa Clara’s Global Fellows program, Outgoing Chair of the Global Women’s Leadership Network, as well as being an active leader in many other national and international organizations supporting women and entrepreneurship. Our thanks also to Santa Clara University's Leavey School of Business and the School of Engineering's Frugal Innovation Hub for sponsoring this event.

Sites and Organizations Shared During the Panel