Entrepreneurship and being a mother

So this entrepreneurship bootcamp I’ve been on this past week was amazing and inspiring.  We had various successful entrepreneurs talk to us, some of the best ones were the founder of mixbook (Andrew Laffoon), founder of Guitar Hero (Charles Huang) and Anastasia Neddersen founder of Artveoli.  There was something very interesting I found about their talks.  They all mentioned having children.  Having children didn’t stop them from becoming entrepreneurs.  In fact, Anastasia said that you should not wait to have children, which was amazing to hear.

guitar hero

Charles Huang – if he listened to these potential investors guitar hero would never have been

What was just as amazing was a student in the class who brought her 6 month old daughter with her for the whole week.  It wasn’t until day 2 that I noticed her sat in the back bouncing her daughter to stop her from crying!  I went up to talk to her and tell her how amazing she is as well as how darn cute her daughter is (BTW – not all babies are cute to me, but this one was seriously cute).   There were times that she had to leave the class briefly to attend to her daughter, but I think she was there for about 90% of the class.  KUDOS.  This lady isn’t going to let having a child hold her back in life!

berkeley method for entrepreneurship bootcamp

Entrepreneurship – Baby won’t hold this mamma back in achieving her goals!

Only 5% of tech startups are founded by women, yet around 25% of engineering and computer science graduates are women.  How can there be such a difference?  Why is it like this? How much does ‘being a mother’ play a role? Do women really wait? I mean, I get it, it is hard to take time off work to have a baby when you run your own business!  But are there other reasons?  There has to be!?!

gather

My startup team for the week – these guys are going to go far in their lives, they were super smart! #alwaysbethedumbestguyintheteam

Mompreneur? Nope.

Mompreneurs – let me just say NO.  Boss Babes – a definite NO. Why?  Because you wouldn’t catch a man calling himself a dadpreneur or Boss Dude.  Sorry, it’s been bothering me since I caught sight of the term yesterday.  End of Rant.

It is actually a coincidence I speak of Mompreneurs because I am on day 1 of the Berkeley Method of Entrepreneurship bootcamp in California Much of the week we will work through the method for a startup.  I am not sure how I ended up here with work, but I am feeling very lucky to be here.  50% of the class are Berkeley students so at the grand age of 35 I am feeling pretty mature in this class!  But at the same time I am already in love with their youthful ambitions and energy.  Their lives are not so complicated yet.

Oh to be young and uncomplicated! We had an ice breaker session where we asked each other 2 questions to get us to learn about the importance of trust.  The first question was – what is your secret love? (person, thing, action) and second question – what have you failed at?  And what did you learn?  I chuckled as some of the students answered – not getting on their college sports team, or, not getting a job.  Ahhhh so young and naive.

Today 30 people were given 1 minute to pitch their idea for a startup.  Some of these people were already a business, but embryonic.  Only 20 ideas would be taken forward, the rest of the class had to figure out which of these 30 ideas they wanted to with.  As they pitched I noted down 5 great ideas that interested me, a couple that were exceptional and I truly believed they would be successful (Note to self, take mental note of the names of these people!), a few pitches were just plain awful, and the rest I was indifferent about.  In the end one pitch stood out for me.  The idea was still embryonic, the guy who pitched it had passion and came across as smart, but he didn’t articulate his idea particularly well because he hadn’t really nailed down what exactly he wanted to do.  This was the part I found intriguing.  We had 30 minutes to meet with the people who pitched their ideas to determine if we wanted to be part of their team (and if the wanted us too!).  Interestingly, he attracted to his team a diverse group of people with a range of skills…this is what is emphasised heavily in the bootcamp.  Diversity makes for a winning team.  A good example is Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg

I am probably the oldest in the team and the only parent so I am intrigued how these factors will make a difference this week.  May be some day I will be an entrepreneur, my time is not up just because I am 35. No.  Age is not a factor (although experience may be) And you can be a parent and still be an entrepreneur.  I do think that risk taking is likely to reduce and may mean that the bang for buck might not be as good.  That’s just a gut feeling – a bias may be, it’s not a statement of fact.  But it is definitely an interesting issue I’m going to keep an eye on this throughout the week….How much does being a parent influence entrepreneurship?

By the way, as this all goes on Aviana is getting better at walking, I am sure I will come back home after this week to a true walking toddler! It has also been a while since I travelled away from home, so it will be interesting to see her response to me not being there and me returning for 24 hours before heading off to Paris for another week.  The guilt is real.