Welcome to Wonderland: Dell EMC’s Virtual Ecosystem For Women Entrepreneurs

Unleashing a fire hose of announcements is the norm at vendor conferences, and Dell EMC World 2017 was no exception. This year’s announcements spanned a wide range of topics, from data center modernization to augmented and virtual reality, and from hybrid cloud to security.

However, as a woman business owner, one announcement stood out for me: Hello Alice, Dell EMC’s new data-driven platform, powered by Circular Board, which connects female entrepreneurs with mentors, resources and events that can help them start, grow and thrive.

How Alice Was Born

Women-owned businesses currently employ 7.8 million workers in the U.S. and generate $1.3 trillion in revenue overall. But only 2% of women entrepreneurs in the U.S. have reached more than $1 million in revenues. Unfortunately, many women find it difficult to access the resources they need to build and grow their businesses. Like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, they find that they have entered a new world with new rules—but without connections and guidance to help navigate it.

For instance, according toe CrunchBase Women in Venture report:

  • Among the top 100 venture capital firms, just 7 percent of the partners, or 54 of 755, are women.
  • Between 2010 and 2015, only 10 percent of venture dollars globally (from a total of $31.5 billion) funded startups that reported at least one female founder.
  • Only three female co-founded venture firms are in the top 100.

To turn this tide, Circular Board, the first virtual accelerator for women entrepreneurs, approached Dell in 2016 with a new idea to disrupt the startup world: What if we could   build an entirely new ecosystem, designed especially for women founders? Dell, which has a long history of supporting growing businesses and women entrepreneurs, jumped on the opportunity, and Alice was born to help women entrepreneurs build more scalable and sustainable businesses.

Pivotal, Dell Technologies’ cloud native development platform company, supplies a good part of Alice’s DNA. Pivotal developed Alice in about three months. The Circular Board incorporated Pivotal’s software development methodology and cloud technology in its accelerator, endowing Alice with machine learning capabilities so she can grow and evolve with the female entrepreneurs she engages with.

How Alice Helps Female Founders

Alice helps level the playing field by helping women founders connect with the mentors and resources they need to successfully launch and scale their businesses. According to Carolyn Rodz, founder and CEO of Circular Board, “Alice instantly filters millions of resources down to the personalized, verified content that enables founders to scale to the highest heights, no matter where they are located or who they know.”

Alice uses a conversational interface to connect women entrepreneurs with the resources needed to scale based on startup stage, location, industry, revenue and individual needs. As more users engage with Alice, she gets smarter. Alice uses her intelligence to help guide women to resources, mentors and events that are aligned with their goals and financial, legal, marketing, technology and other requirements.

Alice provides each user with a personalized data and real-time modules. Users can also search, sort and filter queries by location, industry, annual revenue, employee count, years in business and content publication source.

Go Ask Alice

At the Mad Tea Party, the there was plenty of room at the table, but when Alice came, the Mad Hatter, March Hare and the Cheshire Cat cried out to Alice, “No room, room!” Likewise, there is an abundance of money, technical resources and expertise in the startup world, but women founders often find it “curiouser and curiouser” to decode and succeed in it.

But Alice is available now at www.helloalice.com. So if you are a woman founder, go ask Alice for help to navigate the startup system, and get access to the resources you need to scale your business.


WITI Summit: Shining the Spotlight on Women in Technology

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to attend my first WITI Women and Technology Summit (#witisummit), held this year in San Jose—and was truly impressed and inspired by this conference. If you’re not familiar with WITI (Women In Technology International), the organization was launched 21 years ago—when the technology industry was very different and much more of a male-dominated field than it is today. Carolyn Leighton founded WITI to bring talented, capable women in technology together, and provide a showcase for their contributions to the field.

I was excited to join fellow panelists Vanessa Alvarez, Frost  & Sullivan and James Watters from VMWare, along with our moderator, Ray Wang, Altimeter Group, for the Applied Cloud panel. The event schedule was jam-packed with great sessions on social media, green IT and emerging markets and cloud computing, along with business and professional development sessions, and plenty of time for networking. With many parallel sessions and breakouts, I could only attend a handful, but found them extremely valuable.

One thing really stood out for me at this event is that while most business and professional awards ceremonies tend to be dull and boring, WITI’s 15th Annual Hall of Fame Awards was anything but. This year’s event honored 5 women technology luminaries for their outstanding contributions. Dr. Ruth Westheimer, aka Dr. Ruth—who needs no introduction—received one of the awards.  At 82 years old, Dr. Ruth still has the magic touch (no pun intended!) when it comes to publicly speaking about sexual and reproductive topics in an engaging and enlightening way. The other women honored included:

  • Sandy Carter, VP of IBM Software Group Business Partners, and a social media expert, author and channels dynamo.
  • Dr. Ruth David, currently President and CEO of Analytic Services, Inc., and former Deputy Director for Science and Technology at the CIA, and a pioneer in providing analysis to help strengthen national security.
  • Dr. Adele Goldberg, Founding Chairman, ParcPlace Systems, Inc., and co-inventor of personal computing and pervasive networking at Xerox PARC back in the 1970s!
  • Dr. Susie Wee, CTO, Client Cloud Services at HP, and prolific developer of imaging, digital television and mobile video technologies, as well as MIT’s “Researchers in Residence” program for MIT grad students.

Clearly, none of these women have let others define their roles or set boundaries on what they can accomplish. But, in addition to their extraordinary contributions and credentials, each of these women share several other characteristics that really set them apart as leaders—and make them role models for us all, women and men.

  • Remarkably committed and authentic team players. They put their egos aside to engage and energize their teams. Sandy Carter, for example, founded the IBM Super Women’s Group, which now has something like 12,000 members at IBM. Several members were at the event, and their admiration and appreciation for Sandy was real and evident.
  • Great listeners. They are genuinely interested in who other people are, and the different perspectives they bring to the table. A short video clip about Dr. Susie Wee and her HP team, for instance, underscored her ability to actively listen and absorb input from a diverse spectrum of talented people to help shape and refine project goals—and end up with better outcomes.
  • Multi-dimensional. Their technology accomplishments are stellar, but its clear that they define themselves much more broadly. The stories they told focused not only on their passion for technology, but also underscored how their roles as daughters, mothers, wives and grandmothers; hockey players and authors; mentors, educators and philanthropists are just as important to their sense of who they are in the world.

It was definitely a different, fun and energizing experience to attend a technology conference where about 90% or more of the participants were women. I would highly recommend it to women already in the field, as well as to those thinking about exploring it, —and I’m looking forward to next year’s event.