On Monday, November 7, 2022, Project W hosted its 9th Women Entrepreneurs Boot Camp (WEB) in Seattle. Ten female founders spent the day with experts, investors, and a cohort of their accomplished peers to dive into strategies for scaling their businesses to get Series A ready.
Molly Klein, DWT's CMO, welcomed everyone to our home for the day, DWT's Seattle offices. Then the program kicked off with an interactive master class focused on interrupting bias in the VC pitch process. Project W's Program Director Emily Baum presented an overview on the research of gender equity expert Dr. Dana Kanze, which has shown that VCs ask men "promotional questions" that elicit answers relating to growth, scalability, the future, and success and ask women "preventative questions" focused on challenges, barriers, and mistakes.
After discussing theory and evidence, the program moved into the workshop portion, with role-playing to illustrate how to answer prevention questions with promotional (i.e., forward-looking) responses. Three founders, Liz Braman (RevolutionRE), Rebekah Bastian (OwnTrail), and Diana Caldwell (Amplified Sciences), each gave a 90-second pitch and engaged in Q&A with the two guest investors, Richard Leigh and Vani Rao. The investors asked "prevention"-style, risk-mitigation-type questions and the founders practiced answering the questions in a "promotion" frame, bringing the focus back to opportunity.
Next up was a workshop on "Assembling and Managing a High-Performing Team" presented by Julie Han Kelsey, Sr. Manager, Product Manager of Amazon's AWS Just Walk Out Technology. She touched on how to interview and hire well, grow and develop leaders, and scale a high-performing team.
Then the 2022 WEB cohort was joined for lunch by three WEB program alumnae: Kate Isler (TheWMarketplace, WEB Virtual 2021), Reetu Gupta (Cirkled In, WEB NY 2022), Laura Malcolm (Give InKind, WEB Seattle 2020).
After a short break, the program resumed with a sales workshop on "Generating hockey stick revenues," led by Chase Nall, Advisor at Pioneer Square Labs and VP of Sales at Outgo. He discussed founder-led sales and dispelled common myths about sales execs, providing numerous useful frameworks for the founders to leverage with their own teams.
Next up, the cohort split into small groups to discuss how investors evaluate a potential Series A investment and what to keep in mind when structuring a Series A funding round. Half of the founders met with Lisa Nelson, Co-founder and former Managing Director, M12 (Microsoft's Venture Fund), now an independent board director, advisor, and investor.
Meanwhile, the healthcare-focused companies met with Christiana DelloRusso, Partner at LRV Health, and Loretta Little, Managing Director of WRF Capital.
Finally, Project W's Managing Director Lynn Loacker welcomed 20+ investors to the group and provided an overview of that last program of the day – company presentations and investor feedback. The founders had two rounds of meetings with curated small groups of investors moderated by DWT's Louisa Barash, Jane Eckels, Alex Gregorski, and Shontee Pant. Each founder presented a five-minute pitch of their business with the goal of gaining insights as to how to best scale their business and fuel revenue growth. The investors provided eight minutes of feedback, and then the founders switched rooms to hear from the next set of investors. All in all, in less than two hours, each founder got personalized feedback from a minimum of 10 investors. You can see the list of participating investors here: https://dwtevents.com/web/people.
Then it was time to celebrate the culmination of an impactful day with the cohort, investors, advisors, and supporters in the Project W community. Folks gathered at The Altitude Sky Lounge at Seattle's Astra Hotel rooftop for drinks and snacks, and continued getting to know one another well into the evening.
The Seattle 2022 Women Entrepreneurs Boot Camp was a memorable program which participants described as "a tremendous program packed with useful information, valuable introductions, and a community of incredible startup leaders and investors." It was truly a community effort thanks to all who gave their time, expertise, and passion to furthering the Project W mission to help more women succeed. You can learn more about the startups in the cohort here. We look forward to fostering ongoing connections and watching this phenomenal cohort of founders thrive.