The 1,000-member strong Women in Technology
organization held its first annual Tech Expo last week, with nearly 20 exhibitors and a stellar panel made up of moderator Paul Sherman
, publisher of Potomac Techwire
, Matt Howard
, founder and CEO of Zoomsafer
, Julia Spicer, Executive Director for Mid-Atlantic Venture Association (MAVA)
, Janet Yang,
Principal at NovakBiddle,
and Dede Haskins
, founder and CEO of NewVision Health
The goal for the TechExpo was to demonstrate the vibrant entrepreneurial community here in DC, and to take a look at the business climate for emerging technologies and funding opportunities.
After listening to the panel, Paul announced two winners for the evening who were selected via attendees casting their ballots. Taking home prizes were NewVision Health for Best in Show, and CYNCZ for Most Innovative. Check them out!
I jotted down some of my favorite themes by the panelists, which arent word for word, so full disclosure that Im mostly going to pass along just the tip of the iceberg of their remarks:
- Seeing a trend already toward less panic in the market customers are getting back to work and her portfolio companies are seeing sales start to happen.
- If based in DC, dont discount the advantage you have as an entrepreneur to leverage your DC footprint. There is quite a bit of opportunity in our back yard that only we can claim at this juncture. Dont overlook it.
- On areas/trends to watch: educational IT. Look at all the offshoots of Blackboard.com in this region, and combine it with educational reform, stimulus dollars, and its going to be an area to watch.
- Seeing that sales cycles are shortening
still slow, but its not as drawn out as it has been in recent months
- Watch web 3.0
its here and will sweep into business.
- The opportunity to bring a new technology to market has never been greater, with the low barrier to entry and low capital requirements to launch a product. That being said, its never been more important to be quick to market, because of these same things.
- When asked about typical time to market expectations: for Zoomsafer, it was 3-4 months to get to beta. For something like an iPhone app, were talking weeks.
- My favorite quote from her was in discussing financing startups: be well off! Elicited many laughs, and yet, shes half serious. Angel investors are hard to find, and often have their own challenges in that the market often affected their own coffers. If not well off, be frugal, focus on smart expenses, and execute.
- On women in technology: we all have a responsibility to be thoughtful about how girls and young women need continual support and opportunity to be exposed to math, science, engineering, and technology.
- Health IT will continue to be an area to watch, not only because of the healthcare reform discussion, but because of other issues like the nursing shortage, health consumerism, etc.
- On companies seeking financing: foresees new models for investors to help create capital for companies. Seeing new creative ways to structure deals. Be open minded.
- On the topic of those entering the workforce today, particularly young women: there isnt a better place for anyone to swiftly learn about business than at a technology company. Particularly a startup.
- Companies launching in this marketplace have a distinct advantage that talented people are available, companies will be able to secure rock bottom office space lease rates, and there is a wonderful opportunity to capture marketshare if one is focused and nimble.
- Keep in mind the folks who hold VCs accountable, if you are seeking money. They have their investors who expect returns, and hold them accountable to those returns.
And my favorite quote of the evening, near the end, was on the topic of the current landscape for an entrepreneur who might be thinking about making the leap to launch a business:
If youre currently employed today, your job is most likely not nearly as fun as it was two years ago. Chances are you are working harder, for less money, wearing more hats, and doing all you can to stay upbeat. Well, thats what every day is like as an entrepreneur, so why not take the leap?
Already looking forward to next year!
In celebration of Women in Technologys
(WIT) 10-year anniversary of the Leadership Awards, WIT is publishing a book entitled, No One Path: Perspectives on Leadership from a Decade of Women in Technology Award Winners.
The book is a compilation of perspectives on leadership from 48 past winners of the WIT Leadership Awards and includes a foreword by Maureen Bunyan, Primary News Anchor at Washington, DC WJLA-TV (ABC 7) and winner of seven local Emmys.
SpeakerBox President, Elizabeth Shea
was an award recipient in 2005 in the Entrepreneurial Category and Sr. VP, Lisa Throckmorton
was recognized in 2002 with the WIT Presidents Award.
Please join Women in Technology (and Elizabeth and Lisa) on October 15, 2009, at the Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner, VA, for the Book Launch
. The evening includes a reception, book signing, and panel discussion with Ms. Bunyan and several of the profiled women.
- Katie Hanusik