Over the weekend, BASES hosted its inaugural Women in Entrepreneurship Summit which gave participants the opportunity to interact with successful female entrepreneurs. The event took place on Saturday, April 4, in the Obendorf Event Center at the Graduate School of Business.
Julia Hartz, the co-founder and president of Eventbrite delivered the keynote speech, in which she detailed her story from an undergraduate at Pepperdine University to being honored as one of Fortune’s ten Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs in 2013. She offered advice for women in entrepreneurship and highlighted the importance of self-confidence and risk-taking.
Following Hartz’s speech, participants got an opportunity to interact with female entrepreneurs in an intimate workshop. In addition to Hartz, the speakers included Sandy Jen ’03, Katrina Lake ’05, Rebeca Hwang, Salina Truon ’11, Kathleen Janus and Yin Yin Wu ’11.
“At BASES we are always looking to do something different, particularly at Stanford where people are so engaged and have their own questions and ideas,” said event organizer Jonathan Lu ’16. “This is why we had a big keynote at the beginning but also gave participants the opportunity to engage on an intimate level with these entrepreneurs.”
According to Lu, BASES saw an overflow of interest in the event. Of the 110 students who expressed interest, 60 were chosen to attend.
“Half of the student participants were undergraduates, but we made sure that the group was as diverse as possible,” said Lu. “We put value in diversity of opinion and experience. We had students from the law school, business school and medical school, seasoned entrepreneurs and representatives from our partner companies. We wanted the diversity of participants to add to the richness of the conversation.”
Participants expressed appreciation for the format of the event, particularly the opportunity to interact personally with the speakers.
“It was comforting and inspiring to hear from and get to know women who have become successful in such a male-dominated industry,” said attendee Andrea Wenrich ’18. “The workshops allowed us to get to know these incredible women on a personal and intimate level.”
The workshops were capped at 15 people per speaker.
“As one of 10 students at a table with a successful startup founder, I was able to hear everything from her day-to-day challenges to her long-term goals,” said Ali Eicher ’18. “By getting to speak to these entrepreneurs in a more personal setting, I learned what it would take to get my own business up and running.”
Sandy Jen, who graduated with a bachelors in computer science from Stanford and went on to become the co-founder and CTO of Meebo, a consumer Internet company, spoke at the event and reflected on her experiences.
“I think that one thing Stanford does a great job of is nurturing people who want to take risks or have great ideas, and so anything that I can do to help is really exciting for me,” Jen said. “I try to always make time for Stanford events because Stanford students are amazing, well-rounded and can change the world.”
Jen noted that over the last decade there has been more attention devoted to encouraging women in technology.
“The percentage of women in CS at Stanford has really increased from when I was here 10 years ago,” Jen said. “One of the most important things for women in technology is seeing role models. By showing young women that I wasn’t that much different from them when I was a freshman, I hope that makes them consider the tech world and entrepreneurship, and I hope I can expose them to what they can do.”
Lu also highlighted the importance of the event in raising awareness for women in technology.
“A lot of times it’s easy for the issue of women in technology to become simplistically branded as only an issue for a certain demographic,” Lu said. “But to address these things, we need to put them in context of the broader industry and that’s made up people from all walks of life, and that was one of the goals of this event.”
Contact Pallavi Krishnarao at pallavik ‘at’ stanford.edu.
An earlier version of this story said that Hartz attended Chapman University instead of Pepperdine. The Daily regrets this error.