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Thursday October 30, 2014

NY Convergence ORIGINAL

NY Women Tech Entrepreneurs on the Rise (#rroott)

(credit: Lauren Keyson)

By Lauren Keyson

Most New York City technology and startup events follow the same pattern – male entrepreneurs have one or two minutes to pitch their ideas to male investors who decide in a moment if the idea is right for them.  But while 80% of the attendees are men, it’s interesting to note that 20% of the entrepreneurs are women. That’s because there has been a huge sea change in the last three years where the growing ultra tech ideas – practical, outrageous and amazing – has drawn in a diversity of new players.

Earlier this week, 300+ entrepreneurs came together at Gary Whitehill‘s home in Chelsea to meet VC’s, angels and high-net individual investors looking for deal-flow in a casual setting. They crowded onto his 4,000 square foot private terrace a 270 degree view of of NY, a group of innovators, aspirers, and the investors who actually fund them. Whitehill is an active investor himself, as well as the founder of EntrepreneurWeek, the largest global network of a weeklong series of events around the world.

Like Venus and Mars, some believe that women’s companies are “softer” then men’s. Social media sites often fall into this category:  Taisha Heimberg created a social media site for dog lovers; Polina Raygorodskaya has a travel site that helps people travel green; and  Ingrid Ducmanis and Nadine Zukoski were pitching their shopping platform. But softer, women-oriented types of businesses, they startups are nevertheless hardcore working sites, apps and platforms that are diving into the competitive pools of social media, shopping and the environment.

These women founders are tough and fearless – Raygorodskay is no longer taking on new projects ate her popular PolinaFashion.com so that she can devote her time to GreenXC. Heimberg of did not hesitate to go head to head with major social media sites, confident that hers social dog experience is one of a kind. The same is true for Zazum, where Ducmanis and Aukoski are ready to take on the highly competitive online shopping experience, and Mila Antonova, creator of Bridge Union, takes the world of card games online. “It’s usually for old people, but I’m trying to make it fun and cool, with a feeling of poker.

The female-oriented businesses seemed to vary from male-oriented ones, but not drastically so – their startups seemed to go focus more on helping the earth by making it more natural and harmonious;  to connecting people and animals; and to finding easier ways to shop.

Sona Banker, CEO of Banker Financial Consulting, said she sees many women starting new businesses but what struck her was that the women she sees are not 20 to 25, but 35 to 55. “The thing that is exciting is that they are passionate, they have used their life experience to get them where they are, they have a great idea, and now they have the support and experience behind them to make it work. So they are driven to make it happen.”

Camille Preston, CEO of AIM Leadership and an angel investor, is seeing more women in the tech space and a fair amount of women in the mobile space — but that they are still a minority. “What’s changing in business is that it used to be very logical, linear-focused masculine energy; now you’re seeing industry having to bring a lot of diversity into it — the feminine brains and female energy.”

Large tech companies are also seeing a rising number of women, and more companies say they want to hire more women.  Murat Aktihanoglu, founder; of Entrepreneurs Roundtable and Accelerator, said that his organization is looking for more women entrepreneurs. “We definitely want to have more women entrepreneurs feel more empowered and create more startups. I met many women entrepreneurs here tonight.”