Bringing more women into the startup ecosystem

Sam Altman, President of Y Combinator

Started in 2005, Y Combinator has served as the birthplace for some of the best known companies in the tech industry - Reddit, Dropbox, and Pebble are just a few of the organizations that benefitted from one of the incubator's bi-annual startup smorgasbords. Since its inception, over 630 startups have taken 3 months to move to Silicon Valley, during which they prepare to pitch to investors during the final Demo Day. Being selected as a Y Combinator participant can be a huge jumping off point for entrepreneurs with a good idea and the motivation to see it through.

Though, the organization hasn't been without controversy. Former President Paul Graham came under fire for comments that seemed to disparage women's potential as leaders of startup companies (Graham insists he was misquoted).

Regardless, it seems one of the goals for the organization, or at least for newly appointed President Sam Altman, is to promote more female entrepreneurs into the program. According to Altman, the most recent class of Y Combinator participants is 24% female, which is higher than what the tech industry at large can claim.

As far as successfully pitching to investors, Altman points to classic missteps in public speaking as the first hurdle Y Combinator participants have to clear; things like remembering to speak clearly and make eye contact with the audience. The next step is a little bit trickier.

"But really if you look at a fundamental level, in a two and a half minute pitch, all you're trying to do is convince investors that there is a chance, however small, that you could be the next $10 billion startup."

 

About the author

Ben Johnson is the host of Marketplace Tech.

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