Stories from the field: Heidi Roizen’s path to success

PDXWIT partnered with DFJ, the Oregon Venture Fund, and Silicon Valley Bank with the goal of empowering every woman and underrepresented person in the room with actionable career advice.  Only 3% of all venture capital goes to female-led companies and only 7% of partners at the top 100 venture firms are women. Having built her career in industries with minimal female representation Heidi could speak with authority on both challenges and opportunities. She offered advice for women at every stage of their career, whether just starting out or with decades of industry experience.  Through a combination of stories and wisdom gained from real world experience, Heidi left us with three key learnings.

Take action for yourself!

During the advent of personal computing, Heidi took the leap into entrepreneurship and co-founded T/Maker with her brother, incorporating the company while she was still in business school. Personal computing was still in its infancy, and the company was one of the first to develop software for the nascent industry. After selling the company, Heidi joined a risky, young company, Apple Computer, to lead its worldwide developer relations. She remembered it as being a tumultuous time in the company’s history, and it was not at all clear then that they would become the company we all know today. Heidi’s stories exemplified that whether it’s starting a company, beginning a new career, or moving into a new role, feeling empowered to act and take risks is important at every career stage.

Importance of negotiation

Negotiation is a skill that must be learned and honed over time. Heidi told stories about her time in venture capital and what drives her to walk away from investing in a company.  For example, if a company’s values aren’t aligned with hers, they will not be able to cultivate a successful startup culture together. Her advice was don’t be too big of a jerk & watch the alcohol! We, too, can know what’s important to us, when we’re willing to compromise, and when we’re willing to walk away.

Ask for help, and give help

When asked about attributes of successful entrepreneurs, she discussed the importance of learning quickly and having enough humility to ask for help when needed. She highlighted that most successful CEOs learn through fast feedback loops and hiring people with complementary skill sets. Conversely, Heidi likened giving help to others like being a flipper in a pinball machine, providing the right help at the right time to help guide entrepreneurs in a new direction. Finding the confidence to ask for help and the confidence to give help when needed are powerful tools in work, at every stage in our careers.

The talk gave attendees an intimate understanding of a woman’s perspective on succeeding as an entrepreneur in tech. A huge thank you Heidi Roizen for joining us, and to our partners DFJ,  Silicon Valley Bank, and the Oregon Venture Fund.

If the Oregon Venture Fund had a mold for recruiting homegrown talent, it would be Julianne Brands. Her family owns a thriving, 100-year-old Oregon-based business, so she knows first-hand the valuable impact businesses can have on local communities. A former research analyst at an investment bank and an economic policy think tank, Julianne brings expertise in market research, finance, and emerging technology to help solve complex problems for entrepreneurs and investors alike. When Julianne met the OVF team, it was an easy decision to join. In her own words: “It’s really about the people. We’ve cultivated a community of these intelligent, successful, dedicated, diverse, and deeply passionate investors. We leverage their expertise to help entrepreneurs throughout the lifecycle of their company, and in the process, use our collective wisdom to make better investment decisions.” When she’s not talking to entrepreneurs about their next big idea, Julianne can be found within the Portland community—running trails in Forest Park, reading the (actual) newspaper, and volunteering as a coach for local youth sports teams. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn

PDX Women in Technology