When Aileen Lee, founder of Cowboy Ventures, a seed-stage fund that invests in digital startups, looks at the tech industry, she sees a better future ahead.
"I think starting a company with more women and people with different backgrounds from the beginning isn't something the industry has been as thoughtful of in past as will be in the future," says Lee, one of the first women to lead a VC firm.
Lee, who last year was named by Forbes as one of the World's Most Powerful Women (right behind Anne Wojcicki, CEO of 23andMe) is one of four speakers on a panel titled "The Future is Female," taking place April 4 at TechfestNW. Lee famously coined the term "unicorn," for startups valued over $1 billion. When Lee founded the term unicorn, four companies fit the description. Now, according to TechCrunch, the number has soared to 145.
Lee will be joined on stage by Amy Nelson, CEO of The Riveter, a Seattle-based women-focused co-working space. Nelson founded The Riveter in 2017, she told Fast Company, after a boss at her former job turned her down for a promotion when she returned to work from maternity leave. There are now six Riveter co-working spaces around the nation, in Seattle, Los Angeles and Austin and Portland will be opening this year.
"More than anything, we understand that equity in work won't be realized without everyone having a seat at the table," Nelson says. "It takes all of us to drive change forward."
"Our studios are community-centric hubs founded on the ripple effect," its' website reads. "If we can change your day for the better, maybe that could change your week, which could in turn change your year. We don't show off, we just show up."
Moderating this discussion is Angela Jackson, co-founder and managing director of the Portland Seed Fund, one of the state's premiere funds that has invested, among others, in Emma Mcilroy, founder of the feminist apparel company Wildfang.
To see The Future is Female panel, get tickets to TFNW here.