She Roars: Entrepreneurship the Princeton Way

Friday, Oct 5, 2018
by Wright Seneres

Supporting women and diversity in entrepreneurship is a strong element of Entrepreneurship the Princeton Way. At She Roars 2018, that element was the topic during a lively discussion at McCosh Hall during day one of the conference. 

At the “Entrepreneurship the Princeton Way: A Case Study” panel discussion, 1983 alumna Joy Marcus, a lecturer in entrepreneurship said, “Princeton is doing a lot to support women entering entrepreneurship now, and the results will really be seen in 10 years. As a University through the alumni network, we need to support the entrepreneurship ecosystem with our time and money.” 

Lynn Loo, a 2001 graduate alumna and the Theodora D. ’78 and William H. Walton III ’74 Professor in Engineering, said, “We will also leverage our strengths in the liberal arts and engineering over the next 10 years to set ourselves apart from schools experienced in entrepreneurship like Stanford and MIT.”

Loo explained why she started a company around self-powering smart window technology: “With understanding the gravity and urgency of climate challenges, I felt it was important to do. It was a long time in the works. It was my grad student Nick Davy that really pushed to get the company established.”

Some highlights:

A great example of Princeton women becoming entrepreneurs, especially in social enterprises, is HomeWorks, which spent the last two summers in the Keller Center eLab accelerator

Marcus: HomeWorks empowers young women from Trenton to strive to achieve their full potential. They live in the HomeWorks home for academic and social nurturing, and will launch a full-year program in 2019. It's a merger of the boarding school, public school, and after-school program models. (Of the five-member HomeWorks leadership team, four are women Princeton graduates and undergraduates.)

What are common pain points for women entrepreneurs?

Lynda Clarizio '82, moderator of the panel, cited a statistic reported by Fortune magazine that just over two percent of venture capital investment went to all-women companies. She further explained, "there is a lot of angel money but not much follow-on money. In some instances, the ideas getting pitched are somewhat too small, too focused on a smaller problem, to get really big money." Marcus added, "In my entrepreneurship class, students pitch their ideas. Like in the real world, it can be form over substance when pitching your idea. It's about convincing people about your idea, no matter how bad it is."

Why did you decide to leave the business world and teach entrepreneurship in the Keller Center?

Marcus: Me standing at 4’11” and blonde defies the notion of what an entrepreneur typically looks like. I wanted to send a message to women here interested in entrepreneurship: it’s okay, you can do this.

Read the panelists' bios at the She Roars site.

Read more highlights from day one of #SheRoars18 on the University's homepage.

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