French Tech Hub was a partner at The Guild Serendipity Conference, the first women’s conference of its kind. Today, Anne Cocquyt, Founder and CEO at The Guild and mentor at French Tech Hub share with us the highlights of the event.
San Francisco is alive with connections — new technologies and innovative apps, enterprising professionals and nightly events, women entrepreneurs and abundant opportunity. The GUILD exists to enhance this dynamic ecosystem of women working and learning from each other to make their mark on the world.
For the last year, as a startup, we’ve been perfecting our approach to being the city’s premier networking platform for professional women. The GUILD allows users to simply design a profile and get introduced to tailored contacts on a weekly basis: making networking more convenient and less awkward. Events are also a huge draw.
We went beyond where we even set out to go, by innovating the conference to reimagine networking. As frequent conference attendees ourselves, we drew on our own experience and asked ourselves: what kind of conference could we create that we’d most like to attend? We spitballed, we ideated, we blue-skyed — and we came up with a whole new model: SERENDIPITY.
ser·en·dip·i·tyˌserənˈdipədē/: the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.
On October 26th and 27th, we saw how SERENDIPITY unfolded and how 250 women and a handful of men gathered in 10 unique spaces across S.F. to learn from and inspire one another. At the “Founders Meet Funders” house, within the VAULT’s co-working space in the financial district, Lisa Wang from SheWorx and WSGR held a session on how to create the perfect pitch.
After the Founder’s Lounge, during which 25 entrepreneurs and investors met to discuss business models and learn about cocktail mixology, the group enjoyed an intimate networking dinner put on by SF’s innovative food startup, Feastly. The next morning, entrepreneurs heard from Kim Kleeman how to “PivotUp!” and take their ideas and businesses to the next level. The French Tech Hub provided exquisite French sandwiches at Friday’s lunch. Some of the fintech ladies from the “Striking Gold” house from across the street joined in. We held a panel on “The Future of Fintech”, with Tracy Basinger from the SF Federal Reserve and moderator Gene Teare from Crunchbase. Great connections were made between attendees, the French Tech hub delegation, and “Evaluate Your Startup” presenters, Jon Littman and Denise Gershbein. The pair’s interactive three-hour workshop concluded the Founder’s house on Friday afternoon.
This highly-engaging format mirrored the sessions held in eight other locations across town with the support of an incredible line up of hosts, sponsors and communities, who had chipped in and volunteered their time and resources for the first women’s conference of its kind. It felt like during those two days, San Francisco didn’t just stop because of the hot temperatures we had been blessed with. It took a moment to allow for something special to happen in a city where everybody is trying to overtake the other: true connection-making. SERENDIPITY developed the space for the creation of partnerships that last and inspiring discussions that were more important than tweeting about the speaker on stage.
Thanks to all our partners and especially the French Tech Hub, to the entrepreneurs and aspiring business leaders for coming and making SERENDIPITY, in the words of one participant, a “truly inspiring event”.
Here are just a few more of the reactions we heard:
“No words can describe what amazing time I had at Serendipity.”
“I am inspired and humbled by all of the people I had the pleasure to meet, teach, or chat with.”
“I spent the past two days in the company of ~250 of the most amazing women I’ve met in a long time. They were excited and exciting to be around, working on projects that will change the world. I come away from #serendipity with a longer To Do list, and a ton of inspiration to get it done. Thank you for an incredible experience!”
I hope you’ll continue to find serendipity in your life and, if you’d like to continue networking and meeting extraordinary women, join the GUILD and get weekly introductions at theguilded.org