This week the GWI Team joined our ISA cohort at the Global Accelerator Network Founder’s Rally in Denver. In preparation for leaving we had more business cards printed, ordered Girls With Ideas t-shirts to rep our business proudly, and sent out our initial round of Kickstarter orders.
We’ve always been proud of our idea and have valued the way that others reacted to it, but this week it felt really different. When we reflected on why, we realized it was because we finally had the curriculum in-hand. It was no longer an idea in various stages of development; it was here, in our hands, able to be shown to people.
So, we walked into the GAN conference with curriculum in our bags, Girls With Ideas emblazoned on our t-shirts and ready to sell. We learned quickly that with our t-shirts on, we wouldn’t have to worry about how to start a conversation.
From the moment we got to the airport, people started asking us “what ideas to you have?” We proudly answered that Girls With Ideas was our business and people always wanted to know more. When we got to the conference, those conversations became even more valuable.
While on a break outside, we asked a fellow conference attendee to take our photo - and thus met a VP at MasterCard. He shared they had just started partnering with Girls Who Code and that he could see additional partnership opportunities with our organization. Another attendee had a daughter in our age group who attends a prestigious and innovative school in California and loved our idea. He loved it more when we were able to pull it out of our bag to show him, and was enthusiastic in his offer to introduce us to the school’s leadership.
Bolstered by the positive response we got to our shirts, the amazing reviews we were getting from customers who had just received their Kickstarter orders, and the sales prospects we were finding, we became master networkers.
During Rise of Rest, we heard from a number of businesses and founders who were operating in spaces similar to ours. We lingered for the after party and sought out Lizelle Van Vuuren, Founder of Women Who Startup and Jenna Walker, Founder of Artifact Uprising, both of whom were gracious, encouraging and excited to talk more.
It was after these formal introductions that the power of the t-shirts came into play. We were approached by a man whose sister is an Executive of Girls Inc. and knew his sister would love to learn about us. And while having a glass of wine at a cocktail table, we met an angel investor who only backs women-owned ventures and had an amazing conversation, each of us thanking the other for the work we were doing to create more space for women’s voices to be heard.
What started as a humble idea has transformed into business. We have a real product and a movement that others want to get behind. And now we are ready to sell, sell, sell.