Excited to launch Episode 1 with my guest Lizelle van Vuuren, a serial entrepreneur, a technologist, a producer, a creator, an advocate for diversity and equality across industries, and the all-around badass who founded Women Who Startup!
One of the things I love most about Lizelle is her proclivity for permissioning. She has a knack for giving permission to other female entrepreneurs so they can show up, connect, and put themselves out there.
And the primary platform that Lizelle uses to amplify this message is the Women Who Startup Foundation. It’s the simple solution to a complex problem: How can Lizelle get a boatload of resources, funding, brand sponsorships, people or volunteers, stakeholders, and board members for all of the programs that she is working on? “I want to make them a reality by no longer just making that my own burden to make a reality.”
But even more than that, Lizelle wants to ensure that no entrepreneur identifying as a women is building in isolation – because it’s tough to be an entrepreneur! – and she wants those opportunities to be available to all women, at all times, at a “low, low, low price point.”
The foundation is currently focusing on five programs:
Base camps. Lizelle wants to make sure that every local startup community has a base camp, a local startup community where a small group of people become the leaders and the force for their community at large. The purpose is to put women in the spotlight to learn how she's building, what she's building, and why. You extract knowledge through storytelling, and that's base camps.
The Summit. This is the planned annual celebration, a celebratory summit hosted in Denver, Colorado, where the foundation began.
Education. “Access to information, knowledge sharing, and real-time learning is everything, particularly for women.” Women Who Startup will translate education into awesome workshops distributed digitally through Women Who Startup Connect, their digital platform, to make it very accessible for people to learn about ideation, design thinking, validation, launching their first prototype or MVP of that idea, and launching successfully. “I want someone to be learning the same information in the startup community in Kenya, and Cape Town, and Kansas, and Seattle, and Denver, Colorado. I want that global infrastructure. I want women to connect kind of at a global standpoint.”
Research and grants. Lizelle is cultivating a diverse community of entrepreneurs and innovators who all happen to be women or identify as women, and she wants to show the world what they're up to – but the foundation needs resources to do that.
Technology. Last but certainly not least, technology affects everything Women Who Startup is trying to do. One of their very first initiatives is to build an application that connects early stage founders with angel investors in real time. Lizelle’s goal with technology is to partner with incredible organizations like Black Girls Code or Women Who Code and women in tech, “I want to engage youth, collegiate and otherwise, to come and reverse engineer some problems we're solving. And let's solve them. Let's solve them on the Women Who Startup platform. Let's solve it out there for the world.”
Those are hefty goals that the Women Who Startup Foundation will be working on for probably the next 20 years, but this isn’t about what we’re doing today or tomorrow. This is about creating a legacy – because entrepreneurship gives everyone leverage!
So if you want to tap into a new level of extraordinary, if you want to be part of something designed to inspire you, if you want to take your inner BADASS and show it to the world, there’s no better place to start than by joining the Women Who Startup community.