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Techstars and Stars in Tech: Startup Weekend Women in NYC

By Ziwei Chen

Concurrent with Climate Week 2019, Honeysuckle attended a number of impressive conferences highlighting extraordinary women in business and tech: the Google HER Future Summit and Europe Future Summit, both founded by the Global Startup Ecosystem, and the Techstars Startup Weekend Women in NYC summit, organized by digital strategy entrepreneurs who participated in the HER Future Accelerator program.

Global Startup Ecosystem (GSE) is the world’s first and largest digital accelerator. With a mission to educate, inspire and prepare startup communities for the digital age, it creates an entire digital startup ecosystem experience. Partnering with industrial giants such as Amazon, Google and Wework, GSE’s online network accelerates 1000+ companies a year across 90+ countries in 7 key regions-Africa, Asia, America, Caribbean, Europe, Latin America and the  Middle East with a focus on frontier tech industries such as Space, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, and more. The group’s founder and chief marketing officer, Christine Souffrant Ntim is an award-winning Haitian-American & Ghanaian, startup ecosystem expert for emerging markets. She was selected and featured in Forbes 30 Under 30, AdAge 40 Under 40, Haiti Changemakers 1804 List, and more. 

The Techstars Startup Weekend Women in NYC was held at the co-working space Anomaly. A large, shared working space on the sixth floor with cozy chairs was the perfect locale for the special speaker to delve into her previous experience and how to effectively self-brand. But, just before that, women from all around the world gathered here to pitch their startup ideas. Joined by professional coaches, they had been divided into groups on Friday night to work on business ideas they had pitched themselves, working to brainstorming and research their details. The French windows behind them, which framed a perfect city view, could only reveal a small part of the world they had been so passionate about.

One speaker, Yai Vargas, stepped in a little before five. As a career Diversity Strategist, founder and CEO of The Latinista and a LinkedIn networking ninja, Yai had plenty of experience working in multicultural marketing strategy and communications. Her career sprung from her fascination with car brands, which led to her self-introduction to Mercedes-Benz and then her first internship opportunity in the marketing department there. During the following years, she became an expert in marketing and a leader in community-building. Throughout the process, Yai found that self-branding is far more important than people had thought, and the first step is to know yourself well

“Take some time to do a self-assessment,” Yai instructed, “think about what you are so great at—think about what ‘super power’ you have and what other people think you are so excellent at”. In the meantime, do not hesitate to show them on social media. As a LinkedIn networking ninja, Yai is skillful in utilizing the LinkedIn space as a primary source for self-branding. Here are some tips she gave on how to efficiently represent and promote yourself in the business world through LinkedIn and other social media:

  1. Create your own story. Demonstrate your skill sets, passion, and the unique aspect about yourself that is different from others in the industry. Also, explain why you are in the industry and what drives you to the work you currently do.
  2. State your call to action and what you are looking for. Add some level of persuasion by including information such as how you solve a specific problem and what benefits and values you are trying to deliver.
  3. Put “side hustle” in. Hobbies and part-time jobs that are irrelevant to your full-time job should be there because it adds to the chance of opportunities in the business world.
  4. Optimize your “brand” across various social media platforms. Your Twitter account or Facebook account should look similar to that of your LinkedIn.

After her excellent speech, we greeted Yai and gifted her one of our recent issues. From Yai’s facial expression, we deduced that she approves of our self-explanatory branding!

Our day ended on an empowering note when we ran into Carolina Castro, the lead for Techstars Startup Weekend Women in NYC, who also spoke at the Google HER Summit. She helped organize a Latinx community-focused startup weekend in NYC the weekend before and expanded her event into an all-inclusive event that guides women of all races to further develop their startup ideas.

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