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Women's Venture Summit Brings Top Investors and Founders to San Diego
Female entrepreneurs share stories, tips and strategies to land funding from investors to fund their ideas and build start-ups.
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Last week, nearly 400 women founders and investors gathered for the tenth annual Women’s Venture Summit in San Diego.
The summit kicked-off Thursday morning at La Jolla’s new $164 million life science campus, for this year’s two-day event centered around “Fearless Funding”.
The annual event has built a reputation as a must attend conference for women seeking to raise capital or invest into startups.
Past attendees and speakers include Ganas Ventures General Partner, Lolita Taub; Google for Startups Head, Jewel Burks Solomon; Goodr Founder, Jasmine Crowe; Color Capital investor Jaime Schmidt; RareBreed Ventures Managing Partner, Mac Conwell; Techstars Anywhere Managing Director, Ryan Kuder; Sapphire Ventures Partner, Cathy Gao; to name a few.
This year’s event was put on by Stella Foundation and sponsored by several groups, including Cooley, The Impact Seat Foundation, and Holland & Knight.
Please enjoy this event recap.
Women’s Venture Summit gathered 400 women-led startup founders and venture capitalists, and community members at Cooley.
The summit organized by Stella Foundation’s was designed to gather hundreds of women-led businesses and startups to exchange knowledge, experiences, and build meaningful relationships.
Attendees participated in entrepreneur or investor tracks with one message in mind: “Fearless Funding”.
Connecting Investors in San Diego
“As soon as attendees walk through the door, they meet with like-minded women who are looking to advance, uplift, and learn from each other,” Silvia Mah told me.
Mah, who is a investor in San Diego and supporter of underrepresented startup founders across the U.S., said that investors have a growing desire to attend curated “niche” summit such as Women's Venture Summit.
She noted that this year, 112 venture capitalists registered for this year’s summit, up from 74 from last year. About 56% of investors attended the summit for the first time.
“We also had more than 85 speakers this year,” said Mah. “These speakers are builders, investors, and entrepreneurs who are accomplished experts in their fields.”
Mah, is best known in San Diego for founding the Women's Venture Summit, with an aim to close the gap between women founders and investors, since 2014.
Passing the torch, this year’s Women’s Venture Summit was organized by serial entrepreneur and Stella CEO Flossie Hall, who stepped up as chief executive to carry on the organization’s legacy and help grow its 5,000-person in-person and digital community.
Providing Platforms for Women
“For me, the real difference at this conference is the fluidity between founders and funders seeing each other as women in a space that was not designed for us,” said Debbie Chen, founder and chief executive officer of Hydrostasis.
Chen, who moderated a panel called “Diversity isn’t Niche” on Friday, said the women’s venture summit provided her and others the opportunity to share ideas and expertise, while mentoring those that might be “two or three steps” behind.
There were “dozens” of startup founders with similar stories as Chen, many who come back to the annual summit to share testimonials and success stories on the big stage.
Co-Founders of Powerfuel Damas, Mayra Haas and Danielle Vantini, are a prime example, who told the crowd that they’ve benefited the summit immensely.
“Our social enterprise now has 16 employees across three different countries, and we are proud partners with Meta and Google,” said the duo, proudly wearing matching purple coats representing their company brand colors, last week on stage.
Marla Sofer, founder and CEO of Knomee, who flew from San Francisco to San Diego for the summit, said “the research and insights shared during the summit was powerful and eye-opening as a former operator turned founder.”
If there was a “woman of the moment” at this year’s summit, it was probably Nicola Corzine, founding CEO and executive director of the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center, who was named “most influential women” in Bay Area Business this year.
“Women are the fastest growing entrepreneurial segment in the country but obtain capital at disproportionately lower rates than their male colleagues,” Corzine told the crowd of more than 300 attendees.
Throughout her talk, she shared fresh data and compelling research specifically highlighting the wealth gap between women and male founders.
“In the startup industry, roughly 2.7% of the total capital invested in venture-backed startups goes to women,” said Corzine.
“On average, women founders tend to wait 8 years before paying themselves, compared to their male counterparts,” she said. “They also score higher than the national average for food insecurity.”
Women’s Fast Pitch Competition
Founded in 2022, CathConnect is a maker of a patent-pending device to provide patients with a safer alternative to urinary catheters.
Tudor will receive seed investment from investors and $30,000 worth of in-kind business services, as well as exposure to a 100+ investor network.
“A year and a half ago, I was in the audience watching the semi-finals, and this year I took the stage … and I was selected as the winner! It has been an exciting journey and I am grateful this community shares our vision at CathConnect to improve the lives of patients with urinary catheters,” said Tudor.