The Launch 2013 conference resembled Disney World, with hoards of people (5000 registered guests) eagerly waiting outside the San Francisco Design Center. Jason Calacanis surely out did himself this year with an incredible diverse turnout, which included entrepreneurs, investors and many other startup groupies. According to the program, Launch is “the best place to launch your startup, raise money and learn about starting a company.” I have to say, as an attendee;Jason went beyond launching companies to igniting thoughtful discussion surrounding heated topics such as lack of diversity in Silicon Valley. Typically, as a woman, I usually feel like a minority at tech events but due to the Launch team’s great effort to increase their female presence, I felt like part of the group!
Vivek Wadhwa certainly sparked a compelling debate during the diversity panel where he said Silicon Alley is not a meritocracy and he said something along the lines of Silicon Valley having a gender problem. It was refreshing to hear Vivek, and his panelists Adria Richards, Freada Kapor Klein and Danilo Campos discuss their firsthand personal battles with overcoming gender and race inequality in the Valley startup world.
Danilo did not sugar coat anything, by stating his work your butt off attitude regardless of your credentials. Not only did speakers discuss umbrella themes such as gender and race but also the need to see beyond an Ivy League education. In an earlier fireside chat led by Jason, Social + Capital Partnership’s founder Chamath Palihapitiya illustrated the significance of our actions rather than our resumes, “its not about a degree that makes you smart and valuable its about how you can do cool and interesting useful things.” The diversity panel and the fireside chat with Chamath confirmed society’s needs to see beyond education and reputation. Overlooking gender, academic background and race will not happen over night because as Freda pointed out “as human beings our brains are wired to be bias.” For me, the Launch conference not only exposed attendees to dynamic disrupter startups found in demo pit/the stage but also ignited tremendous debate. The first step to rid ourselves of biases starts with addressing the problem that exists! As a member of the startup world, I not only witness people changing our behavior through new adoptions of technology but also new practices of thought!
Maybe this launch conference isn’t just a place to launch a company but a new wave of thinking….overcoming biases, understanding Silicon valley is not a meritocracy ….and changing our views and definitions of successesTweet