Venture hosts female entrepreneurial panel

Annabelle Nickoll

HW Venture hosted a Women in Entrepreneurship panel in honor of Women’s History Month with speakers Anna Barber and Kalika Yap on March 10 after school on Zoom. Barber is a partner at M13 Ventures, a venture capital firm in Los Angeles, and Yap is a serial entrepreneur. They spoke to students about their careers in entrepreneurship and shared business lessons they have learned throughout their lives, while also touching on gender discrimination.

Barber talked about how having a mother who was a literary agent helped her see that she could do anything she wanted to, even as a woman.

“I think that if I was facing discrimination, I wasn’t noticing it, and I was kind of just punching through the barriers because I had been taught that I was very capable and to go out and do the things that I wanted to do,” Barber said.

Yap spoke about her experience attending events through an entrepreneurship organization she joined in 2008. She said people would often mistake her for the administrator or assume her husband was the entrepreneur instead of her.

“I have definitely experienced [gender discrimination], but it didn’t keep me from pursuing my goals,” Yap said.

Like Yap, Barber talked about gender discrimination in the venture capital industry , the importance of recognizing it and the need to continue to push for change. Barber said that false excuses are commonly used to account for female misrepresentation.

“Sometimes people refer to what we call the pipeline problem,” Barber said. “The pipeline problem in venture [refers to] an investor who says something like, ‘Well, I just can’t find women to invest in, so that means that in my pipeline, there are just not enough great women-founded companies.’ And what I always say to that is, ‘You don’t have a pipeline problem; you have a network problem. If you expand your network in an intentional way to groups of people who don’t necessarily look like you, will suddenly find that you no longer have a pipeline problem.'”

After the presentation, students had the opportunity to ask the speakers about their careers in a Q&A session after the presentation, and Barber and Yap offered the attendees pointers.

“One of the pieces of advice that I live by is [to] never make the same mistake twice,” Yap said. “Incrementally, if you stop making the same mistakes again and again, you will save a lot more time and be more productive and efficient.”

Barber, on the other hand, said that students should become more comfortable with being wrong.

“If you can get to [the] point where you have a baseline level of confidence that you’re a smart human [and] that you’re going to figure it out but that you’re okay [with] being a beginner and changing your mind about something, that feels like success to me,” Barber said.

Discussing the importance of taking the initiative, Yap said that there are dangers of misconceptions in entrepreneurship that discourage people from taking action in their careers.

“In their minds, they have these limiting beliefs, and then you have to just say, ‘Yes, it’s possible,'” Yap said.

Students who attended the panel said they felt that it was helpful and inspiring.

“I enjoyed hearing about [Barber’s and Yap’s] experiences and what they did to create their business, as well as the challenges they faced throughout their journey,” attendee Chandace Apacanis ’21 said.