Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Women 2.0 PITCH Conference 2012

Today I attended the Women 2.0 PITCH event. Even before I arrived I knew the event was popular, for the traffic at the 101 Shoreline exit was horrendous!

Shaherose opened with introductory remarks on the history of Women 2.0, the purpose of PITCH, and how the day would go. Then we went into the first keynote speech by Caterina Fake.

Caterina shared with us her thoughts on keeping technology humane, how we need to preserve and treasure individuality. One thing that really struck a chord with me a quote from the Amish:

"Is this technology pulling us together or driving us apart?" That's what the Amish ask when they decide if they should adopt a particular technology, and we should be constantly reminding ourselves of the purpose of technology as well.

Next keynote was by Robin Chase, founder of Zipcar and buzzcar. She told a really compelling story of building Zipcar, how they went with the absolute minimum product, and then less. I really liked the early key hand-off technology - the car key was hidden under a pillow in her back porch!

The main event of the day was the pitches, and there were nine of them. My favorites were by Prosperity and Tiny Review.

LeAnne from Prosperity was full of energy. I really enjoyed her presentation. Some say that her coaching approach is not scalable, but if she can develop common course material for all her couches and set a high hiring bar, it should be possible to train a fleet of coaches.

Melissa from Tiny Review really honed her speech. I did not even realize she was not looking at her screen until one of the judges pointed it out. Impressive! But what made her presentation so powerful was the stories. She did a really good job picking examples to really showcase the strengths of her app.

There were quite a few sessions in the afternoon. I, however, regretted that I went to all of them. Don't get me wrong, they were all excellent. But I go to conferences to meet cool people, and sitting in back-to-back sessions was not the best way to engage with other conference attendees. In other conferences, after I was inspired by a particular speaker, I usually walk up to the stage and have a quick chat after the talk. This time, however, they quickly retired to backstage. So I was disappointed that I did not get to talk to the speakers, and I did not talk to as many fellow attendees as I'd like.

This reminds me of what my mother used to say to my brother when he was a kid, "just because there is food on the table does not mean you have to eat it." Just because there are sessions on the program does not mean I have to sit in them! Next time I will make a point to leave some time for mingling with others.

As I talked out of the auditorium, I was greeted by rows of napkins:

One of them looks really familiar:

Yup, that's my application napkin, back when I just figured out the grading algorithm, before I found my graphic designer. It seemed so long ago!

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