Pitching to Ann Winblad

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Our September 24, 2013 event with Ann Winblad brought together a group of 40 girls (ages 12-16) and their parents/guardians for an exciting afternoon with Ann Winblad, a highly-regarded venture capitalist and co-founder of Hummer Winblad Venture Partners. Also present to judge, donate and present a winning prize of $100 plus one-on-one coaching session was Andrea Lo, co-founder of youth crowdfunding platform, Piggybackr Founder. The event was hosted by Bay Area College of Nursing (who sponsored the second $100 cash prize).

At the event, teens got a chance to pitch new ideas about helping start ups, coping with bullying, athletic clothing for teenage girls, friending on Facebook, alternate learning, and food trucks.

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The event began with an inspiring talk by Ann on her journey, starting with her first job at six years old and through her current role as Managing Director at Hummer Winblad, a venture capital firm based in San Francisco which she co-founded in 1989. You could say that this whole event started out with a bang as Ann’s story gave girls insight into what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. Ann finished her talk by going around the room and conversed with each girl one-on-one to learn about where they go to school, what grade they’re in and their favorite subjects in school. Videos of Ann’s talk can be found here.

Following Ann’s talk, ten of the girls (in six teams) took turns presenting their ideas to the panel of two judges – Ann and Andrea. As each group of girls gave their pitches, the judges listened intently and provided constructive feedback.

As one parent put it: “This opportunity empowers girls to have a voice and build the skills to seek a bright future for themselves. It would be awesome to see their ideas grow into real products.”

The heat was on as the two judges conferred and chose the top three pitches, evaluating both the market feasibility of the ideas and the presentation of the pitches.

Congratulations to Gal Kavaler for coming in second place (with an idea for kids who need a different approach to learning), and to the two first place winners, Sapna Desai (with an idea for girls’ athletic clothing) and Aria Chang (with an idea around food trucks).

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Ann concluded the event with the following message to the girls: “You are all winners. It’s a privilege to have heard all of your plans. Keep in mind that if you didn’t get money at this pitch, it doesn’t mean you won’t get it at another session. Think of those who won and consider how they presented and answered the questions.”

Annn also left us with the following insights: “I’m in the business of new, and you are all winners. I was fortunate:

  • to be the oldest (and, therefore, naturally bossy);
  • to have my dad say over and over to me: trust your own good judgment (and, therefore, I had a strong sense of responsibility and accountability);
  • to love math (and when I learned programming, it became my ticket); and
  • to start my company the same year Microsoft started, which was right at the beginning of the software industry as we know it today.

It’s really important for you to find these two virtues in everything you do: kindness and joy.”

Click here to view clips of Ann’s talk and the judging of the pitches by Ann and Andrea.

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Shout out to all the great people who made this event possible (including our prize sponsors Bay Area College of Nursing and Piggybackr), and special thanks to Ann Winblad and Andrea Lo for inspiring the next generation of girl innovators.

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