Women Entrepreneurs Gather for a Different Kind of Brunch
JANUARY 13, 2007 (NEW YORK CITY)-- Two Sundays ago on January 13th, 75 women trekked to a sunlit loft on the Upper West Side for a new take on an old New York tradition.
They were there for brunch--nothing shocking there. What set this gathering apart were the guests. Nearly every woman at the event was a founder, CEO or corporate leader in the nascent industry known as digital media. This was no atmosphere for idle chitchat.
TechBrunch, a title coined by head hostess Dina Kaplan, the Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of Blip.tv, was conceived as a casual, social forum for women in the male-dominated tech community to network and learn from one another. The idea was born at a similarly-themed dinner at the trendy restaurant Jour et Nuit, when Ms. Kaplan dined with five other female entrepreneurs at the helm of growing companies in New York City.
The dinner, which included Janera Soerel, founder of Janera.com, and celebrity life-organizer Allison Storr, was a success, and the women were left wanting more. As social connectors, they also realized that the forum had potential far beyond their table of six. Thankfully, Ms. Kaplan has a rare talent for bringing together powerful players, illustrated in the success of the Founder's Club, which she launched with Joel Smernoff. Stars like Digg CEO Jay Adelson, Gawker Media's Nick Denton, College Humor's Ricky Van Veen, Rocketboom's Andrew Baron and others frequently attend. The last event was the most swanky yet, held on the set of Saturday Night Live at NBC's 30 Rockefeller headquarters.
Within days of that fateful dinner, Ms. Kaplan had built a list of powerhouse co-hostesses for the TechBrunch event. Not surprisingly, every woman she approached embraced her role in the event. Borrowing the format of a high society benefit, each woman would invite carefully chosen members of her network to the event. Ultimately, the host list represented the creme of the NY tech startup scene, including CNET reporter Caroline McCarthy, MediaBistro's Laurel Touby, Daily Candy's Catherine Levene, and Notes on a Party's Celia Chen. (Disclosure: GroundReport founder Rachel Sterne was honored to be a co-host for the event).
The venue, a sleek loft-like apartment with breathtaking Hudson River views, was graciously provided by (male) pharmaceutical entrepreneur Safi Bahcall. He and Joel Smernoff were the only male participants, donning matching uniforms of black suit, white shirt and skinny black tie.
TechBrunch may have been an experiment, but it hardly seemed one. From start to finish, women arrived, affixed their name tags and confidently introduced themselves to waiting crowd. Every woman had a different project, a different company, but all had the common thread of mutual interest and enthusiasm. As Lancome model and environmentalist Elettra Wiedemann discussed her upcoming sustainable fabrics fashion show, Caroline Waxler mentioned her next writing project and Arianne de Bonvoison described her new venture First Thirty Days.
As the room filled up, the energy level rose, and so did the temperature. But Ms. Kaplan and her co-hosts barely batted an eye. And why would they? There were a dozen incredible women left to meet, and the sun was setting fast over West Manhattan.
Tags: Tech , Brunch , Kaplan , Entrepreneur , Women , Woman
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