Sexism in Silicon Valley? When Candace Fleming tried to raise money for her start-up Crimson Hexagon in 2007, her industrial engineering degree from Stanford, her MBA from Harvard, her management position at HP, and her experience heading up a small software company didn't convince any of the 30 venture firms she pitched to fund her company. One investor told her to forget business cards because the only thing people would see was "Mom." Another showed her a picture of himself naked on a yacht and invited her to sail away for the weekend. Outright sexism is rare in tech hubs, reports the The New York Times, but the barriers Fleming faced aren't. Tech communities like those in Silicon Valley and Boston pride themselves on being meritocracies built to embrace good ideas and great founders. "For women, though, that narrative often unfolds differently," explains The Times. Women run 40 percent of privately-owned businesses, but only 8 percent of venture-backed tech start-ups. This is despite the fact that on average venture-backed start-ups run by women use 40 percent less capital and are increasingly involved in successful IPOs, according to meta-data from 100 studies on gender and tech. The absence of participation from women in technology has negative consequences beyond social equity. It robs Web start-ups targeted to women from an important perspective. It could also be blamed for the unfortunate name of Apple's latest mobile device: the iPad.
Why Foursquare shouldn't sell to Yahoo. TechCrunch's Michael Arrington says "it is becoming alarmingly apparent that Foursquare is strongly considering a sale to Yahoo." Not surprisingly, the start-up advocate thinks it's a terrible idea. He gives five reasons why, but it really just comes down to this: "there's a reason why you became an entrepreneur and didn't just stay a mid level developer grunt at a variety of large organizations," he writes. "You have the fire to change the world. So go do it." Either way, for business owners, this is how to make money on Foursquare.
Spirit Airlines prompts fury with carry-on fee. There's no easier way to get your customers to villify you than to ask them to fork over some more of their hard-earned cash. But what if the charge isn't intended to bring in more revenue but rather to fix a problem your consumer base is constantly griping about? Does that make it palatable? Apparently not. Ben Baldanza, the chief executive of Spirit Airlines, found this out the hard way when his company's $45 carry-on fee stirred up the ire of customers and U.S. Senators alike (via LA Times). Baldanza contends that the fee will create faster security lines and less cluttered overhead bins, and he even stuffed himself into an overhead compartment to prove it. For a more successful example of a company head coping with fury at a price hike, see our piece on eMusic.
Why it pays to be innovative with social media. Ever wonder what brands like Zappos, Starbucks, and Bravo did right? Part of their success has to do with becoming early adopters of using social media to connect with customers in innovative ways, Mashable explains. Those innovations include developing key relationships with the media (Starbucks's involvement in the rollout of Promoted Tweets got them a lot of media coverage), experimenting with current trends (the City of Chicago is experimenting with Foursquare) and forming close brand relationships with the influential social media platforms.
An ex-con makes a killing in the bread business. Back in June we brought you the story of Dave Dahl, a recovering drug addict and six-time felon, who cleaned up his act and returned to his family's bread business. After making amends with his family, Dave went on to create Dave's Killer Bread, a line of wildly-popular artisanal, whole-grain breads. For a closer look at Dahl and the family business, check out this video profile of the company courtesy of the American Express OPEN Forum.
JASON DEL REY was a senior reporter covering technology, branding, and company culture for Inc. magazine. Before joining Inc., his work appeared in Newsday, The (Newark) Star-Ledger, and the Staten Island Advance, and on ESPN.com. He lives in New Jersey. @DelRey