San Francisco, CA - March 28, 2019
KiwiTech launched its first KiwiTech Female Founders’ Demo Day on the West Coast in San Francisco on Mar 27th, 2019. This Demo Day is a quarterly event that started in New York City in 2018 with a mission to raise awareness and visibility to an industry that has often overlooked the successful women entrepreneurs with lack of funding in this space.
KiwiTech founders believe in walking the talk when addressing diversity inclusion. "The more awareness we can bring by starting inclusive conversations, showcasing our top startups with the goal to help them raise capital, the stronger is our empowerment movement," mentions Rakesh Gupta, Co-Founder, and CEO of KiwiTech. In February 2019, the company also had a successful Minority Founders’ Demo Day in Atlanta bringing this conversation to the broader underserved community of founders.*
Over sixty investors confirmed attendance from around the San Francisco Bay Area to some from Washington, D.C. For tech investors, media, influencers, and others, Demo Day is the perfect venue to discover what innovative minds are creating around the nation as about 60% of the presenters are from outside California. Presenting startups include Saddle Shoppe and Smile Stations (San Francisco), HIPAAtrek (St Louis), Pipelines (Los Angeles), SearchKey (Chicago), Kazoom Kids (Chicago), Woosh 5 (Austin), Xpedition (San Antonio), and Kiddie Commute (San Diego).
"This is an incredible platform for meeting the incredible group of startups women led in our portfolio," said Mohsin Syed, Chief Startup Officer, and EVP, KiwiTech. "These startups are shaping the future of technology in their vertical, and they’re excited to talk with you and answer your questions while presenting their solutions."
"It starts with a shift in perspective. Unconscious bias is alive and well in this industry and we have to stop using the word "risk" when it comes to hiring women and people of color. It is not a "risk" to hire underrepresented talent, it is a proven benefit and we should view it as such. Tech is a powerful giant that’s integral to our everyday economy – it is used by and affects everyone no matter the gender, color, or background so we have to make it a priority to create a workforce that reflects the demographic that it serves. We won’t make true progress with ideas and points of view from the same kind of people. There’s power in differences. The world of tech is evolving and we must evolve with it," says Shari Holly, Director of Operations of Pipelines, and Co-Founder of PrettyBird, Grammys, Emmys, D&AD Awards, Cannes Lions & Grand Prix, Clio’s and MTV Video Music Awarded entertainment agency.
There was a panel discussion to fuel the empowerment from both entrepreneurial and investor community. The panel was moderated by Laura Land, Co-Founder of Marketplace Valet, one of KiwiTech’s portfolio startups, awarded Influential Business Woman of the year in 2018 by Acquisition International and recently featured in the Success Magazine*.
Four panelists addressed the topic of bridging the gap of inclusion, aiming to increase capital infusion towards women entrepreneur, from Iris Bloomfield and Reema Shah, Bay Area Managing Partners, Golden Seeds, along with Carol Mao, Vice President of Fusion Fund, and Annelies Gambles, Senior Associates for Western Tech Investment Group.
"Venture capital investment is essentially all about people. Women make up half the population, so why female founders and investors only hold single-digit percentage of the industry? If it’s not because of IQ (of course not), we have to fix it," says Carol Mao. Investors are very receptive in KiwiTech’s model and in opening the inclusion conversation.
The event website showcases various investors attendees’ inspirational quotes. "You must live your truth. Recognize, accept and embrace who you truly are and use it for your advantage. Make it not just great but greater than life. Why not?" says Princess Ngoc Do, Managing Partner of Goddess Ventures. Clint Chao, Co-Founder and General Partner of Moment Ventures, reinforces the point that his fund "... appreciate(s) having the opportunity to invest in female founders who are building technology solutions to reimagine how work is done in these industries."
"Being a female founder myself, I really appreciate KiwiTech’s inclusive ecosystem and investment approach to technology and access to capital. It’s great to be part of a tribe, with partners and investors who believe in supporting inclusion in technology and empowering women entrepreneurs," says Jessica CHIN FOO, Director of Strategic Partnerships, KiwiTech, who leads the event and sources California startups for KiwiTech. As Victoria Gervasi, Marketing & PR Manager at Grishin Robotics, confirmed her attendance at the Demo Day as she "believes that there is not a role or job that woman cannot get. And when one woman helps another, great things happen."
"We believe the most vibrant and successful companies are both diverse and inclusive. We encourage employees to bring their authentic selves to work and engage with our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to build community, create strong networks, and develop their careers. Our Women@DocuSign ERG is focused on making DocuSign a place where women are fully supported, enabled and encouraged to do the work of their lives through mentoring programs, career development sessions, volunteer opportunities and more," mentions Joyce Liang, Executive Briefing Program Coordinator at DocuSign, a co-sponsor of the event.
Berryessa Gap, a small family-owned winery in Winters, California is a co-sponsor of the event, and their winemaker, recently showcased on Forbes* for her Climate Change actions in the wine industry, Nicole Salengo will be pouring their Yolo County wines. Nicole "believe(s) that – with enough dedication – anyone can succeed in this industry regardless of gender, but there are some things we can do to empower women in wine: take women in leadership positions seriously, believe in yourself while fostering the talents of others, and always work together with dignity and respect."