I strongly believe that it is important to give back to the world, both because it is the right thing to do, and because giving back is a key practice for improving one’s mental health and happiness. But while others might decide to volunteer to help build shelters for the needy, I know that I’d be a terrible carpenter, and while clumsily hammering a few nails might make me feel better about myself, I’d be choosing a profoundly suboptimal way to have a positive impact.
Thus I long ago made the decision to concentrate my social impact work on helping entrepreneurs. In this post, I’m going to talk about one of the organizations I’ve chosen to help, the Women’s Startup Lab.
I first encountered the lab and its founder, Ari Horie, after my keynote speech at the Startup Conference in 2013. After I came off the stage, I decided to check out the startups that were exhibiting, and I immediately gravitated towards the Women’s Startup Lab stand.
The concept of an accelerator for female entrepreneurs struck me as one of those concepts that should obviously exist, and I strolled over to volunteer my help as a mentor. Ari graciously accepted and told me that she’d be in touch.
I had no idea at the time that the Startup Conference was Ari’s first public event, and that the entire Women’s Startup Lab organization at that time consisted of Ari and the banner stand that I had admired. At the time, the main activity of the organization was holding free meetups for entrepreneurs.
But like all great entrepreneurs, Ari didn’t let the lack of resources hold her back. And over the past six years, as a mentor to its entrepreneurs, and later, an advisor to the CEO, I’ve seen the Women’s Startup Lab grow from that single banner stand into one of the world’s leading accelerators for women.
Since that day in 2013 that Ari accepted my offer to be a mentor for an accelerator program that was still just a gleam in her eye, the Women’s Startup lab has graduated 17 cohorts for a grand total of over 160 startups.
The organization has also branched out into providing innovation programs and immersive educational experiences for corporate leaders and innovators, and even put together an international pitch event to showcase 57 founders in 10 cities around the world.
All this happened because one day back in 2013, Ari decided that she was tired of women not having such a resource, and resolved to build it herself.
If you agree with me that the mission of accelerating women entrepreneurs is important, there are many ways to help and get involved, from mentoring entrepreneurs to referring corporate clients. And if you or someone you know is an amazing woman looking to build a great company, you can apply for the accelerator here. Tell them that I sent you!