When you’re moving along with your business and you have your head in the computer or your ear to the phone all day, sometimes you need to step back and look at what’s really going on. I’ve done that recently as I’ve entered the “startup world.” I was a startup a year ago when I began planning the first conference but I didn’t realize it until recently.
Being in the startup world is interesting. There are all these people with great ideas, some partially realized, some looking for funding, and others just looking for someone to validate their “next big thing.”
After being selected for the PreAccelerate program, I’ve been thrust into a world of hopeful people who are passionate about what they are doing. It’s really amazing but it’s also a bit overwhelming. I’m being forced in a way, to realize my own dream, to make it solid, to mold and shape it and to make it work. I’m going to need to step out of my comfort zone and I am going to have to grasp that along the way, I may fail but failure is a step to making something better.
I now have mentors. I have always wanted a mentor. I’ve heard people talk about their mentors and wondered why I couldn’t find someone to lead me along. Now I have a whole team of them. They are smart, interesting, funny, educated. It’s freeing talking with people who have been where I am now and who see potential in what I’m doing.
Yesterday I participated in Austin Startup Week. Melissa and I went first to the Startup Bazaar where we heard people pitching their businesses. Some did incredibly well and others fell short but all had the same kind of energy and passion in their voices that made you believe that even if this idea didn’t work out, the next one would.
One glaring observation: Men. Everywhere, men. As one woman said later, (and the rest of us thought) “It was a sausage fest.” The other observation: Tech companies. Lots of them with some kind of technology that is going to be the next best app or game or technical something-or-other. With me in my Mom up! shirt and Melissa with her red hair and pretty purple dress talking about MomCom, a non tech, very un-male endeavor, we definitely stood out. That was okay though. I have mentors who are telling me I’m on to something and I have the support of some incredible women who have attended and the backing of sponsors who have sponsored MomCom saying the same thing. We belonged there, in this part of the startup world.
Then came the Afternoon Tea Time mixer for women. It was such a different feel between the two events. Even their locations had the male/female vibe to them with the Bazaar in a dark concrete-floored bar, The Stage on Sixth Street and the Tea at Langford Market, a women’s clothing and accessory boutique on Second Street. The former was a bit alien to me while the latter felt like I was coming home.
It’s inspiring to talk with other women you admire. Tina Cannon from Napkin Venture, Misty Gibbs of Empower Lounge, Laura Beck, the founder of Stripedshirt, the women of Something Local, and the inventor of Handana, Katie Niemeyer were just some of the women there to talk business and connect on a more personal level. Overall it was a great day, especially since I got to hang out with Melissa our Community Relationship Manager. Most of our business is done over email so this was a real treat to spend time with her.
Other than my assignment for PreAccelerate, I am now on to the other parts of my life for the weekend. I go to a parent/teacher conference, then to an interview with Tina Hambly, founder and designer of Valentina and speaker at the Texas Conference for Women who I’ll be interviewing for both MomCom and LiveMom. Then on to ACL with Nicole from LiveMom, where we’ll be interviewing bands and taking a break from the Startup Life. Well, unless I happen to stumble upon some potential sponsors…
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