The calendar is now marked with days celebrating Global Entrepreneurship for Women, Women Entrepreneurs and Women’s Entrepreneurship Week. The reality of these new celebrations is there were not a lot of women paving the way for this but there are enough very impressive women in business that have changed the course and direction for millions of women in media, women in toys, women in government, women in fashion, women in medicine and women in aviation. In my own arena we have the great Lillian Vernon. So whether it is Martha Stewart or Oprah Winfrey today or Ma Perkins, Estee Lauder or Amelia Earhart before us these women kicked down the doors so that we could lead today in our own industries.
I am often asked who inspires me to be the entrepreneur I am today. It’s quite simple; I am inspired by the investors who believed in my second company i.Predictus when it was just an idea on a power point. All of the men who understood the concept that direct response marketing needed to be modernized through marketing automation and the idea of holding data accountable in near-real time was the way to engage the consumer of today. The investors of i.Predictus are all self-made, successful businessmen in their own right. All share the same success story that came from being the underdog but overcoming it with hard work and determination. These men chose not only to invest in me, but also have stayed with me through the journey. Their counsel is meaningful, their expectations high and their vision clear -- they have an end game.
This week I celebrate the three-year anniversary of when I decided to start i. Predictus (the ones we are counting). I am often asked why there are no women on my board or more in my company or why I don’t have women investors. The answer is simple: They have not appeared yet. Women have appeared on my journey; entrepreneurs like me who started their first company with the support of a man willing to invest in them, their spirit and drive. Many of the women I have encountered (not all but enough) have not reached their hand out to me, but in fact have presented obstacles to me instead. They come in the form of legal letters, industry gossip and overall fear-mongering. I am not sure why that is but again there are not many of us so the few that exist should take inventory.
To be honest, I used to get so sad about it. I could not understand how women could be tougher than men to each other when trying to accomplish something significant. Why would they not be running to help more women get over the wall of success? But something changed in me recently.
As I approached the deadline to finish the newest release of my latest ad tech platform (that will change the way TV media is purchased) I had a moment. It came right before my vacation when I was so tired and mentally weary. I watched a woman speak of a child she had lost to great horror and I saw her grace in that.
Now you may say, why are you talking about this stuff; is this column not about business? Well, it was a turning moment for me. A wake-up call. From that moment, I wanted to be healthy and be around those early adopters that understand that change can be good. I made a decision then that even though I know I still have to swim upstream to reach my business goals I will do it with honor and dignity, not anger and disappointment at the women who choose not to join me and instead tried to break me.
Entrepreneurship is about courage. It is about having enough hutzpah to lose sight of the shoreline. Creating technology is about empowerment. It’s not about gender; it’s certainly not about those who want you to fail or even about the naysayer’s fear of having their world changed. It is simply about moving and acting with the gifts and vision given and for me, attempting to be great.
It’s an honor to have two companies that are thriving. I know I am not done, because I am having too much fun and doing great work is what I was meant to do. Hear me now, women up-starts -- my door is open if I can help.
Monica C. Smith is a serial entrepreneur with two industry-acclaimed marketing startups, one 501(c)3 nonprofit and numerous philanthropic endeavors under her belt. Her latest entrepreneurial venture is i.Predictus, a demand-side television platform that is transforming the TV media buying industry, bringing a new perspective to the world of attribution, marketing automation and customer data warehousing.
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