One of Microsoft’s key priorities is supporting women’s entrepreneurship in high-tech and tech-savvy businesses. We recently brought together a select group of leading female entrepreneurs for a dinner at Buddakan in conjunction with the Inc. Women’s Summit held in New York on Oct. 1. Our goal was to spark creative connections and build new relationships among innovative women, as well as to help them get better acquainted with Microsoft’s work with startups and entrepreneurs.
“When you bring great women together, the energy level, the referrals, the idea-sharing — it has a multiplier effect,” says Tereza Nemessanyi, startup evangelist and entrepreneur in residence at Microsoft. “Women are natural networkers. And when you have all of these people who are so authentically networking in service to one another, everybody’s takeaway grows by 10 times.”
At the dinner, entrepreneurs including Catalina Girald of Naja and Julia Pimsleur of Little Pim came together to share candid stories of their experiences and generate ideas for overcoming the challenges that women face in starting and growing their businesses. A wide-ranging conversation touched on issues such as how optimistic to be when presenting financial projections to venture capitalists, how to manage rapid growth, and how to not just navigate but drive disruption in traditional industry categories.
Microsoft supports entrepreneurs by connecting them to technology resources such as Microsoft Azure solutions, as well as fostering networking opportunities and mentorship to help businesses grow. We’re not just interested in high-tech businesses; new technology developments such as cloud computing and ever-expanding mobility are creating opportunities for real-estate agents, clothing retailers, artisans and coaches to re-architect their business operations.
“People use technology these days no matter what their business is,” says Nancie Williams, general manager of Small and Medium Business & Distribution for Microsoft’s East Region. “We want girls and women to be comfortable to fulfill their dreams, whether that be working in high tech, other industries or any entrepreneurial venture they want to pursue — they all require technology.”
The Inc. Women’s Summit was a day-long gathering of some of the world’s most influential female entrepreneurs for presentations, networking sessions, peer-to-peer education and informal connections. The event was designed to connect innovators who are changing the world of business through new retailing and infrastructure models, and to help them grow and thrive.
Women make up a rapidly growing minority within the entrepreneurial world. Williams notes that census figures show 27 percent growth in the number of women-owned businesses between 2007 and 2012, and that the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 7(a) program for small loans made 23 percent of its 2014 loans to women. She’s optimistic that women will continue to network, support one another and create disruptive innovations in a wide range of business categories.
“It always gets better and better,” Williams says. “I think the question is can we accelerate the rate of women becoming entrepreneurs? You’re seeing an increase in the number of venture capital firms that are specifically focused on women’s business, on women entrepreneurs, which is helping. I think as the support system grows and you’ve got women who’ve been in it longer, who are mentoring the younger, it helps reduce the cycle to reach equality.”
Tags: Buddakan, Catalina Girald, Inc. Women’s Summit, Julia Pimsleur, Little Pim, Microsoft Azure, Naja, Nancie Williams, Small and Medium Business & Distribution for Microsoft’s East Region, Tereza Nemessanyi, Women's Entrepreneurship, Women's Entrepreneurship NYC