Longmont Startup Week: Women And The Entrepreneurial Spirit

By Vince Winkel Daily Times-Call, Longmont, Colo.

Women took center stage Wednesday on Day 3 of Longmont Startup Week, with a panel of successful female entrepreneurs sharing their stories of building businesses.

"I'm in this field because of a hot tennis teacher," admitted Lisa Calkins, CEO and founder of Amadeus Consulting. "My girlfriends and I signed up for his high school computer science class because it was the only course he taught."

Calkins used that story to illustrate how you never know who will influence you and in what way. In her case, it was that hot tennis coach she had a crush on.

"Each one of us can influence others, to drive you to success," she added.

For Shelley Coldiron, the executive director and biotech consultant of W.O.L.F. Sanctuary, high school meant discouragement.

"In high school I was being discouraged to pursue chemistry and science," explained the woman who has successfully co-founded three biotech companies.

"At a young age we need to stimulate interest in young girls," added Cindy Jones, CEO of the Sagescript Institute.

The four panelists agreed that there are still strong stereotypes in the technology and leadership world, and that female entrepreneurs who wish to succeed have to unshackle themselves from outmoded gender stereotypes to rise to the top.

"But failure is OK," said Patty Chonis, president and CEO of A-Tek Systems Group. "There are always lessons to be learned."

"And stop thinking you know everything," added Calkins. "That's when you get into trouble."

Earlier in the day, Startup Week was treated to an inspiring talk by Brad Feld, the Boulder-based author of 'Startup Communities' and co-founder of Techstars, as well as the Managing Director at Foundry Group. In his talk, "F**K That, Do What You Love," Feld told a packed house at the Xilinx Retreat Center that to be a successful entrepreneur "you need to be obsessive."

He added that if you don't love it, what you want to do, it probably won't work.

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