Entrepreneurial Institute

Recap: The 2024 NYU Female Founders Forum, featuring Peggy Yu Yu (Stern MBA '92)

©Slezak: Courtesy of NYU Photo Bureau

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In celebration of Women’s History Month, The NYU Entrepreneurial Institute hosted its much-anticipated 2024 Female Founders Forum on March 29.

This half-day event served as a beacon of inspiration, fostering empowering conversations and valuable networking opportunities for women founders, investors, and allies alike.

Hosted in a warm environment at the NYU Kimmel Center’s Eisner & Lubin Auditorium, the event kicked off with a Welcome from De-Ann Abraham, senior programs manager at the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute, and Opening Remarks by Rachel Baruch (Gallatin ‘17), principal at Growth Warrior Capital.

This introduction was followed by the Women in VC Panel: Building the Road to Equity Panel, with:

Next up: The Women Who Venture Panel: Challenges and Breakthroughs Panel. This group discussion featured:

Throughout these conversations, the panelists candidly delved into roadblocks faced during their careers, including barriers such as gender bias. Such challenges can make it inherently more difficult for women founders to make it in their industries, on top of the natural layer of obstacles that come with entrepreneurship. Multiple panelists emphasized the importance of having relationships with other founders and mentors when it comes to celebrating your wins and pushing through your failures.

"[Entrepreneurship] can be done, but definitely not easily," said Ashlee Wisdom, founder of Health in Her Hue. "However, fostering relationships with fellow founders and mentors adds optimism and strength to the journey.'"

“Every single one of my friends is a founder because they understand what you're going through,” added Eliza Blank, founder of The Sill.

The panelists also touched upon the importance of not allowing VC funding to become the sole measure of success for a business, as each entrepreneur must follow the funding path that is best for them. It is crucial to keep an open mind to all kinds of funding, resources, and mentorship through the lens of optimism and support.

“I was using VC funding as a validator for my business, and in 2021 we didn’t raise money, but it taught me to reframe how I validate my business and my success," said Samantha Citro Alexander, founder of Bitewell. "There are lots of other ways to get funding."

After each panelist spoke about their journey and responded to the moderators’ questions, audience members were given the opportunity to join the conversation by asking their own burning questions about how to start out in entrepreneurship, among other topics.

After the panels concluded, Merri Moken and Matthew Uretsky, partners at Brown Rudnick, took the stage to introduce the keynote conversation and discuss their firm’s support of the event. Brown Rudnick powered the 2024 Forum in line with its mission to encourage visibility for female founders, and provide a full spectrum of legal services enforcing intellectual property, brand, and reputation management.

At the heart of the Forum was the electrifying keynote discussion with Peggy Yu Yu, an esteemed NYU Stern MBA ‘92 alum and the co-founder and executive chairwoman of Dangdang.com, a pioneering e-commerce giant in China. Joining Yu Yu onstage was moderator Serene Wang (Steinhardt ‘18), founder and CEO of Elitelink Education, a New York City-based college admissions consulting company.

With her expert insights, Yu Yu captivated the audience while sharing her wisdom and experiences navigating the dynamic landscape of entrepreneurship. Her story served as a testament to the transformative power of determination, resilience, and unwavering vision in carving out one's path in the entrepreneurial realm.

Despite already achieving widespread success as a high-profile founder and executive, Yu Yu spoke of the importance of always remaining curious and open to acquiring new knowledge as an entrepreneur.

“Learning is a very good habit, it always gives you the freshness of observing the world … that’s a habit I would like to keep for myself,” she said.

Throughout the event, attendees were immersed in thought-provoking discussions, covering a myriad of topics crucial to the advancement of women in entrepreneurship. From overcoming challenges to seizing opportunities, the Forum provided a platform for women founders and investors to exchange insights, forge meaningful connections, and champion each other's successes. Moreover, the inclusive nature of the event welcomed allies from all backgrounds and underscored the importance of collective action in driving meaningful change and fostering a supportive ecosystem for women entrepreneurs.

As the Forum drew to a close, the resounding message of empowerment and solidarity echoed throughout the venue. Armed with newfound inspiration and strengthened networks, attendees left with a renewed sense of purpose, poised to shatter glass ceilings and reshape the landscape of entrepreneurship. The event not only celebrated the achievements of women entrepreneurs, but also ignited a collective call to action, urging stakeholders across industries to double down on their efforts to advance gender equality and inclusivity.

As we reflect on the transformative impact of this year’s Forum, let us reaffirm our commitment to fostering an environment where all aspiring entrepreneurs, regardless of gender, have equal opportunities to thrive and succeed. Thank you to everyone who joined us at the 2024 Female Founders Forum!

Are you interested in getting involved with our future Female Founders Community events? We want to hear from you! Send us an email at entrepreneur@nyu.edu.

The NYU Female Founders Fellowship is on the search for an extraordinary group of entrepreneurs for its next cohort! This award-winning initiative provides community, mentorship, and social and networking opportunities to founders who are committed to advancing gender equity in entrepreneurship. Upon their graduation, Fellows are also invited to apply for student loan alleviation grants of up to $30,000.

Interested in joining the Fall ‘24 cohort? RSVP for an info session on 4/10 or 4/19, and submit your application by 5/13 at 6pm ET.