Voice and Exit—What I Learned from WEOC Pitch Competition Keynote

Tammy Y. Allen, Director, Marketing & Programs, The NIIC

I was inspired by Keynote Speaker Danielle Strachman at our inaugural WEOC Launch Women Pitch Competition on September 23, 2017, at The NIIC. She had a lot of insight into what it takes to start and scale a business, as well as the role venture capital can play in the process.

As a general partner of the of 1517 Fund in San Francisco, she invests in tech companies led by young founders. Prior to that, she worked for the visionary Peter Thiel. What was perhaps most interesting was her upbringing. She started her own business at age 22. “I always grew up with the notion that you made your own money,” she said. “Business was always out front.” Her keynote focused on the concept of Voice and Exit. It goes like this. In consumerism, if there’s a product that you don’t like, you can voice a complaint. If the desired change you seek is not made, you simply exit the marketplace.

Knowing how to exit is half the battle. Generally speaking, women are not educated or trained how to exit.

In business, Strachman encourages women to speak up and leave their professional roles or workplaces if it is not working to their advantage. This concept, she said, is really powerful, because it means women can blaze their own trails and start their businesses their own way.

Factors at play, like politics, sexism, misogyny, hold women back in 21st century America. There is a huge cost to not pursuing our dreams, though. But when we do, great things happen. Strachman is an advocate for cooperation—not competition—especially when it comes to women-owned enterprises. That means we can do things to help other women thrive as we flourish in our own business. At the WEOC Launch Women Pitch Competition prior to the pitches, she stated, “No matter what happens today, it’s still a win. You’re not going to know what’s going to happen in the long run.” The larger challenge, she said, is designing a system that women want to enter in the first place.

I am proud to say that the Women’s Economic Opportunity Center (WEOC) is part of the solution. We serve women at all stages of their business ventures. From ideation and start-up to growth and expansion, WEOC responds to the unique needs of women entrepreneurs. We do this through business growth coaching, training and entrepreneurial education, connectivity and access to capital.

How can we serve you and your venture? Contact us by clicking here.


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