Female-Focused Startup Event Makes a Splash in San Diego and Virtually

 In Entrepreneurship, Funding, Hera Venture Summit, Pitch Competition, Startup

Hera Venture Summit united more than 200 female founders and funders from across the United States and Mexico for a one-day startup event

San Diego’s female startup scene is on the map thanks to the success of Hera Venture Summit 2016, an event that welcomed more than 200 female founders and funders to University of San Diego this month. Drawing participants from across the United States and Mexico, the annual summit resulted in nearly 2 million Twitter impressions, a winning pitch idea, and educational discussions about startup culture.

“Hera Venture Summit provides female entrepreneurs with meaningful networking opportunities that don’t require a round of golf,” said Dr. Silvia Mah, executive director of Stella Labs, co-host of the event. “It’s crucial that female investors have opportunities to meet with female startup founders face-to-face – this is where funding matches are found.”

One standout startup at Hera Venture Summit was Tot Squad, Jennifer Beall Saxton. The startup company installs, maintains and cleans baby gear such as car seats and strollers. Saxton pitched her startup idea during the summit’s pitch contest. The gamified activity allowed female entrepreneurs and investors in the audience to model the behavior of an early-stage investment fund using Monopoly money to back their favorite startup. Tot Squad took home the title, obtaining exposure in a room full of female investors.

Saxton says,

“after A LOT of hard work, I am so pleased that Tot Squad was awarded FIRST PLACE in the Hera Venture Summit 5 minute pitch competition in San Diego! We are more than halfway to our goal of raising $1.5M for our expansion and I made many great connections at the summit that I hope will help us get there! I was so impressed by my fellow female founders and loved meeting the angel investors who support female founded startups.”

Fellow attendee and keynote speaker Trish Costello, also known as “the godmother of Silicon Valley,” cited the “ick” factor as a reason that some male investors shy away from investing in female startups.

Mah added,

“Sometimes female- or mom-focused products like a new breast pump or baby device don’t resonate with men the way they do with women – even if the passion and financial projections are strong.”

The investment summit had the newest breastpump startup, Naya Health, and their CEO, Janica Alvarez, along with their angel investor, Jesse Draper, creator and host of “Valley Girl Show” & founder of Valley Girl Ventures, a fund for seed stage companies.

Another theme highlighted during the event was that of investments going both ways across the United States/Mexico border.

“Many second generation business owners from Mexico are looking for business opportunities in the United States,” said Maricarmen Castellanos, representing Mujer Pyme International.

For instance, someone that works in agriculture in Mexico might be looking for a distributor in the United States. For those looking to invest in Mexico, manufacturing, real estate and technology resources were highlighted.

“Through Hera Venture Summit, we’re removing the gender lens often worn in the startup world,” adds Mah. “Women like Saxton and many others both here and abroad are developing smart, proven business ideas and deserve an equal opportunity to be invested in. In addition, we are equipping women to be investors themselves.”

About Hera Venture Summit:

Hera Venture Summit for entrepreneurs and investors is a one-day intensive event aimed at equipping and connecting female founders and female funders. The event is presented by Hera Hub workspace for women, Stella Labs business accelerator, Hera Angels female angel group,  and Hera Fund, an early-stage investment fund. For more information, visit www.heraventuresummit.com or join the conversation using hashtag #HeraVentureSummit.

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