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Video interview with Gwen Edwards. Gwen brings over 30 years of experience building products, services, and profitable business units in high technology sectors. From Stanford Research Institute to Fortune 50 executive (SBC, Nortel Networks, Bell Canada, to Venture Capital backed technology start up CEO and advisor, she unites the knowledge of successful brands, experience with scale, and the skills of managing innovation. Since 2001, Gwen has been working in advisory capacities with angel and venture backed companies assisting with capital formation, key milestone achievement to enhance value, developing target market strategies, cultivating customer input, and assisting in the execution of key deliverables. Gwen currently serves on the advisory board of Astia, an organization dedicated to the success of women entrepreneurs, as well as co-leads Golden Seeds San Francisco, an angel investment network. She also serves on the board of the National Health Foundation. She holds an MBA from Pepperdine University, an MA degree in Communications from California State University, and a BA from the University of California (National Scholastic Award Scholarship).
- Hi Gwen I was wondering if you could give us some advice for women entrepreneurs & female startups because I know that you’ve invested in women led businesses for a number of years now. You’ve obviously got a lot of experience & maybe we could cut through a lot of stuff & you could tell us how we can succeed & how we can present our businesses in the best possible fashion.
Ok probably the best advice is for women to put their own agenda aside as they think about what they’re doing. They’re in front of a group of investors, whether men or women. If they can keep their head & all of their attention on ‘Why am I here? I have something exciting to present. I have a huge opportunity. I’m going for it! Here are my skills, here are my capabilities. Wouldn’t you be incredibly fortunate to have an opportunity to partner with me to build this business!’
Oh you just sold me!
Ok. So I think it’s almost that we need to forget about gender & just be who we are. That word authenticity comes to mind. Because as I think about different people that I’ve heard present, there’s one young woman that comes to mind who was fairly recent. I have to tell you, I don’t know how men reacted, although she was very well funded by a large number of men, including a venture fund with a male partner. So they must have been quite enticed by her brain & capability but I was personally intrigued when I saw her show up in a sleeveless blouse, skinny jeans. No armour as we think of our vests & our attire. It’s I’m sure somewhat generational because I grew up thinking I had to wear that navy blue suit & look the part in order to have credibility. I was so taken by the fact that this person didn’t need any of that armour. Stood there with the freshly minted degrees & just spoke. She didn’t modulate her voice to be deeper. She was just totally herself: utterly brilliant & utterly innovative. She was the kind of person that I thought my gosh I would love to spend time with this person & do everything I can to help them succeed! That’s at one end of the spectrum. Then there are people at another end of the spectrum who are still coming in & trying to be somebody that maybe they are really or maybe it’s not who they really are.
So acting like the boys? Playing like the boys?
Yeah a little bit, yeah, yeah. In the world of entrepreneurship I think at the end of the day it really is about being who you are & making sure that you are so passionate & committed & that that will push through. Maybe what I need to say is in the who you are, there really does have to be that deep inner confidence. Without that deep inner confidence perhaps you won’t be your authentic self? You’ll be afraid to & you’ll have the ooh, aahs & caveats & come across in a less powerful way.
So it’s worthwhile really spending time & effort & attention on building confidence in who we are as individuals?
Absolutely. Then just forgetting about everything else. Just come from your strong inner core of who you are & project that.
Fantastic, brilliant advice. Thank you so much Gwen.
and Gwen gives advice to entrepreneurs on pitching: Aim for Passionate Engagement.