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Y Combinator Female Founders Conference

By Sunday, March 08, 2015

Female Founders Conference

In honor of International Women's Day today, I wanted to share with you an incredible experience that I had two weeks ago, when I attended Y Combinator's Female Founders Conference (FFC) in San Francisco.

Y Combinator (YC) is an accelerator that funds and mentors startups who are still in the early stages of developing their company. This was the second time they've held the FFC, which is designed to inspire and educate women in startups (and ultimately, get more women to apply to their program). The list of companies they've funded is pretty impressive – some of the most well-known include airbnb, Dropbox, and Reddit.

It was inspiring to hear from women like Jessica Livingston, one of the founding partners of YC, and several female founders who have launched successful companies rethinking industries as diverse as construction, coding, fashion, and international healthcare. (All of the sessions are available on YouTube.)

L: YC Founding Partner Jessica Livingston; Top R: Networking (I'm in gray); Bottom R: Kimberly Bryant, Founder of Black Girls Code; All images courtesy of PrettyInstant.com

As fantastic as the conference was, the connections made outside the actual event were the most valuable. The women who attended were amazing, and so organized – we were able to use a private LinkedIn page, Facebook page, Google doc, and Slack channel to be able to find, connect, and meet people with similar interests or locations.

The morning after the conference, I met a fabulous group of women for brunch, all working on fashion/beauty related products or companies from places as near as Berkeley to as far as Pakistan. It was so nice to connect with people in a smaller group and on a deeper level; it felt like I'd finally found "my tribe"!

For those of you who don't know, I went to the FFC because C. and I (along with two good friends of ours) are in the process of developing a beauty app. We're still in the early stages of design and development, so I'll share more details when we're ready. It's definitely been a labor of love and a tremendous learning experience, filled with lots of highs and lows – so it's just comforting to be able to connect with people who understand what you're going through and what you're trying to do.

Growing up in rural Iowa, I felt like I didn't really know anyone with a professional career, especially women. Most men were farmers and many women were teachers, but the possibilities of what you could do, or who could you be, outside the scope of our small town were hard to imagine. For me, books and magazines were the window into the rest of the world. Now, as technology and social media have connected us in a way that we never were before, it's tremendously exciting to see the possibilities that exist for everyone, especially women.

It's easier now to find role models and connect with likeminded people, and to see how many different career options are available. I'm a communications consultant who works with large technology companies in Silicon Valley. The agency I work with is virtual, so we work from home when we're not on site with a client, which gives me the flexibility I need to create my own company. As a young girl, I could never have dreamed either of those were viable career options. So, to bring this full circle, I am inspired by and thankful for opportunities like the FFC and the women who have "done it' already...and excited to see what the future holds for us all.

The joys of working from home, with Mugsy the Pug
I'd love to hear how you're inspired on this International Women's Day – personally or professionally – so please share!


  1. Hey I am so glad to know about Female Founders Conference. Thank you very much for sharing the pictures here. Well dear, I am also going to launch my new business so I have been looking for some spacious San Francisco venues for this launch party.