The Female Founded Conference

Written by
Mai Kasemsawade '26
Oct. 26, 2023

Female Founded Conference

On September 23, 2023, the Female Founded Conference brought together a remarkable cohort of aspiring students and entrepreneurs at Princeton University's Robertson Hall. This student-led initiative, curated by a dedicated team of seven undergraduates (Alison Lee ‘24, Alice Hou ‘26, Maggie Wang ‘26, Leah Powell ‘26, Jana Pak ‘26, Christina Yao ‘26, and Elizabeth Poku ‘24)  served as a pivotal platform, where students could connect with accomplished female entrepreneurs, fostering inspiration and igniting their own entrepreneurial ambitions. The event was a notable success, drawing female scholars from across the nation and engaging with 35 accomplished female entrepreneurs and founders.

The conference commenced with an engaging keynote delivered by Gabby Hirata, the current global brand president of Halara, an athleisure brand, and former CEO of Diane von Furstenberg. Hirata shared her remarkable journey, tracing her early inspiration back to the iconic fashion film "The Devil Wears Prada," and offering profound insights into her extraordinary success at a remarkably young age. She underscored the significance of "discovering one's unique path" as the cornerstone of success, stating, "I derive immense satisfaction and purpose from my intense work hours. I genuinely feel that I hold the key to my own future," said Hirata. One conference participant remarked, "I thoroughly enjoyed Gabby Hirata's keynote presentation. Her narrative, which revolved around consistently defying stereotypes and surpassing others' expectations, left me deeply inspired." Following the keynote, attendees were assigned to exclusive executive seminars, offering intimate interactions with industry founders aligned with their respective interests. These seminars featured 20 distinguished entrepreneurs across a range of sectors, including health consultancy, biotechnology, and cloud data storage solutions.

The conference also hosted two engaging panels. The first, titled "How to Elevate Female Participation in Venture Capital Funding," was moderated by Joy Marcus '83, Co-Founder of The 98, and featured prominent voices from the venture capital arena, offering valuable insights into the attributes sought by venture capital investors. The second panel, "The Human Side of Entrepreneurship," showcased prominent founders who shared personal insights and experiences from their entrepreneurial journeys. The panels culminated in a final keynote address by Tylee Holden, Co-Founder of Atomic Machines, a pioneering technology startup specializing in revolutionary manufacturing methods at the atomic level. Holden candidly shared her triumphant journey, highlighting how she overcame the challenges of founding a startup. "Confidence in oneself is the key; no matter what the future holds, resilience should be your guiding light," emphasized Holden. The conference's highlight was the eagerly anticipated Pitch Competition, where four selected student founders presented their pitch decks to a discerning panel of established startup founders and venture capitalists. VICI, a remote athletic coaching solution, claimed first place and secured $25000 equity investment from Pierre Rolin at Ankh Impact Ventures, an impact-driven, female founder focused VC promoting innovations for sustainability and social inclusivity. 

Maggie Wang ‘26, Director of Fundraising, shared her perspective on the event, saying, "This conference was truly exceptional, thanks to the caliber of remarkable young women in attendance. Our participants included undergraduate students who had already successfully launched companies and embarked on their second ventures, pre-med students seeking to revolutionize the medical field, and female founders of nonprofit organizations with a significant national impact. When you bring together such outstanding individuals and provide them with a platform for learning, dialogue, and exchange of ideas, extraordinary outcomes are inevitable." The Female Founded Conference was proudly hosted in collaboration with Princeton University, Princeton Women in Entrepreneurship (PWE), and Princeton Entrepreneurship Club (E-Club). The event was generously sponsored by Abby Levy, Atomic Machines, Sharewell, Forerunner Ventures, Accel Partners, Valeria Morozovsky Girimonte, Orange Vista LTD, Princeton Entrepreneurship Council, Princeton Keller Center, and Ankh Impact Ventures.