Yunha Kim is the CEO of Locket.

What is it like to be a female in tech?

I think the industry is really curious about this topic — almost so much so that we appear committed to proving how different (or perhaps difficult) it is to be a female CEO.

If a reporter asks me why it sucks to be a female CEO, I can come up with hundreds of reasons. On the other hand, if I am asked to argue why it’s awesome to be a female CEO, I can also do that pretty well. So here is my take on both sides.

Top 3 reasons it sucks to be a female CEO

  1. If you are aggressive, you are a bitch. If you are emotional, you are PMSing. If you are soft, you are too feminine. Whatever way someone finds you, they can always justify it is because you are female.
  2. You may get more sales meetings because some of the guys that you are pitching to have a different agenda. Since it’s difficult to distinguish it early on, you may end up wasting some time. If you turn down their advances (and it gets awkward), doing deals with their companies can become difficult.
  3. Hiring engineers can get tricky. When you reach out to prospective developers, you may get emails like this:
    locket emailAnd the sad news is, this is one of the more professional emails.

Top 3 reasons it is awesome to be a female CEO

  1. Sometimes, guys are more willing to help you because you are a girl. On the flip side, girls will help you because you are a “fellow female entrepreneur.” This is one of the rarely spoken benefits of being a female CEO, especially when you are trying to get things off the ground.
  2. Fundraising can be easier. For instance, there are female investors whose personal goal is to empower other female entrepreneurs. When Tyra Banks invested in Locket, I felt lucky to be a female CEO.
  3. You might be able to hire more talented female employees. You understand them better so it can be easier to identify a good fit. And if you land on the right ones, they can be really good (e.g. our designer Lisa is the best). After all, there are bunch of studies (done by female organizations, obvi) that show women perform better on the job.

The lesson here is that it is all about how you frame your perspective. If you are committed to believing that it sucks to be a female CEO, you will be right, and it will suck to be you. If you are committed to believing it’s awesome to be a female CEO, you will be happier and confident to be you.

After all, it’s not like you can choose whether to be a female CEO vs male CEO. But you can choose your attitude toward it.

Locket is a San Francisco based startup changing the way we use our lock screens. We check our phone over 110 times per day and we believe there’s more to your lock screen than a boring, static picture of a flower. Locket brings stuff you care about to your lock screen based on your interests, swiping habits, and time of the day. This post first appeared on Medium.

VentureBeat » Entrepreneur
Yunha Kim/Locket

Microsoft’s latest innovation: An Indian hotline for startup advice

Above: Ravi Gururaj, Dr. Rathan Kelkar, Joseph Landes, and Rajinish Menon officially launch JumpStart, a hotline that answers business and technical questions for startups and entrepreneurs.


Startups face all sorts of vexing questions. Now they have a place to turn for advice: a toll-free hotline established by Microsoft.

Seriously.

The initiative, called JumpStart, comes from the Indian branch of global accelerator program Microsoft Ventures. It may seem baffling to folks outside the country, but Microsoft India’s Joseph Landes argues that “a major pain point for startups across the ecosystem in India, irrespective of their stage of maturity, is the lack of real-time support for various critical queries they face.”

Microsoft says it’ll apply what it learns from the hotline calls to improve the Microsoft Ventures program.

JumpStart answers calls during business hours Monday through Friday (9 AM to 5 PM IST). This VentureBeat reporter called the number (1-800-200-2114), only to discover that he’d won a free cruise. Hurrah!

In other words, the number is not accessible from the U.S. — but if you do manage to dial in, JumpStart will take questions in both English and Hindi. Then you can finally get an answer to that age-old question: to use Amazon Web Services or not to use Amazon Web Services?

The answer, by the way, is Microsoft Azure.

VentureBeat » Entrepreneur
Eric Blattberg


Verizon seems to have caught the startup competition bug.

Last year, the company launched its first-ever Powerful Answers award, which awarded $ 1 million prizes to innovative startups working on education, healthcare, and sustainability solutions. Now the contest is back for 2014, and it’s adding a new startup category: transportation.

If you’ve got a startup that’s focused on those four categories, you can submit an entry in the competition here. The winners in each category will once again receive $ 1 million, while two runner-ups in each category will receive $ 250,000.

“Last year was just us beginning from a standing start,” said John Doherty, senior vice president of corporate development at Verizon, in an interview with VentureBeat.

“It was just absolutely phenomenal; we expected wonderful things; but we really didn’t know what would come out of it.”

The original contest was announced by Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam at last year’s CES as proof that the company was getting serious about using LTE for social good. And with the winners for last year’s competition, Verizon seems to have proved his point: Smartvision Labs is developing a way to conduct eye exams using smartphones; Lavamind developed the fantasy business simulation game Zapitalism; and BridgingApps is developing ways to use technology to help people with disabilities.

“One of the things we absolutely learned is that if you do something like [put on a competition like Powerful Answers], amazing things happen,” Doherty said.

As for the new focus on transportation, Doherty noted, “It made the most sense to us at this point in time. This contest is very much about innovation. We are a commercial institution; we want to make sure there’s also some relation to our business as well.”

“In transportation, we also have some use from companies that offer machine-to-machine products, and there are some things that connect back to our core business.”

Of course, while Verizon’s focus on social good is praiseworthy, the contest is also clearly a way for the company to ingratiate itself with the startup community. The company’s court case against the FCC ultimately led an appeals court to decide that the FCC couldn’t impose net neutrality restrictions on businesses. That’s a move that could have far-reaching implications for the way the internet works in the future.

The Powerful Answers Award also gives Verizon a way to promote its Innovation Centers. Located in San Francisco and Waltham, Mass., the centers feature tools for companies to test their technology on its network. Technology from Powerful Answers Award winners will also be featured in Verizon’s Innovation Centers.

VentureBeat » Entrepreneur
Devindra Hardawar