Women 2.0, Google Partner to Launch Detroit Founder Friday

11/20/12Follow @XconomyDET

A popular networking series for female tech entrepreneurs that began in the Bay Area has now launched in Detroit. Called Founder Friday, it’s the product of the San Francisco-based Women 2.0, a media company offering “content and community” for current and aspiring women in tech, and Google for Entrepreneurs. Detroit is the only Midwestern city to host the monthly Founder Friday events, which are held in 16 cities around the world, including Palo Alto, San Diego, New York, Boston, Vancouver, Buenos Aires, and Madrid.

The inaugural networking event kicked off last Friday at the Masonic Temple in Detroit and included entrepreneurs, investors, and other interested parties. It was a smallish but lively group; in the brief time I was there, I spotted Good Sweat founder Marlo Rencher, investor Angel Gambino, Bizdom’s Maria LaLonde, and D:Hive’s April Boyle in attendance.

As ladies (and a few gents) enthusiastically networked around me, John Lyman, Google’s Entrepreneurship Manager, pumped me for inside information about my old elementary and high school classmate, Larry Page. (First of all, I never knew him as Larry. We called him Lawrence, and much to my mother’s chagrin, he and I unfortunately didn’t run in the same circles. He was building computers in his parents’ garage, after all, while I was out on the playground trading football pencils with my other, lesser classmates.)

Turns out Page’s connection to Michigan—particularly his alma mater, the University of Michigan—is one reason Google and Women 2.0 were interested in bringing Founder Friday to Detroit. “It’s a great fit for us for a few different reasons,” Lyman explained. “It’s a major metropolitan area with great research universities, and there is also a great tech scene.” Lyman said it wasn’t an accident that TechCrunch and Founder Friday held back-to-back events in Detroit: It seems our nascent tech community is finally garnering the attention of the Silicon Valley establishment.

Sepideh Nasiri, Women 2.0′s vice president of all things offline, said that though Women 2.0 is a media company, its focus is more on the tech community itself and giving women a voice to talk about whatever they’re working on and the different challenges they face. “I know there are lots of events [for entrepreneurs], but ours offers the chance to see who’s in the community working on what, and where potential partnerships might be. A lot of business deals happen at Founder Friday.”

Founder Friday’s primary mission, she pointed out, is to increase the number of female entrepreneurs and build the local tech community by leveraging Women 2.0′s platform of more than 100,000 people and getting the word out about the products and services Google offers entrepreneurs. “When we launched in San Francisco, we had to educate the community first,” she said. “In Detroit, we’ll partner with different organizations and we’ll help with resources so [attendees] will have everything they need to launch a startup.”

Nasiri also said that event speakers are accessible to attendees for advice and mentorship throughout the event. Women 2.0 is actively soliciting “influencers and mentors” for future Founder Friday Detroit events; interested parties should get in contact with Women 2.0 through its website.

Sarah Schmid is the editor of Xconomy Detroit. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET

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