Girl Power in Silicon Valley

Rob Hof

I had the opportunity in late January to see the future of entrepreneurship. And the great thing is, it wasn't two guys in a garage. It was a bunch of girls at Google.

Girls' Middle School in Mountain View, Calif., held its annual Entrepreneurial Night at Google on the evening of Jan. 28. Ten groups of seventh-grade girls, who had formed their own companies, pitched to real venture capitalists from the likes of Kleiner Perkins and TA Associates. (Full disclosure: My sister-in-law, Deb Hof, is head of school at Girls', which is why I and my family could get past the Google security guards. But the girls were the stars of the show.)

It was pretty amazing to see these young entrepreneurs slinging PowerPoint slides in front of a huge conference room screen in front of more than 400 people--including the VCs from whom they were asking for real investments of $100 and up. I'd be scared to death, but they all had their pitches down cold. They had been working on their businesses for months as part of the school's Entrepreneurial Education program, now in its 10th year. And they had rather precise projections of their profits and the amount they'd return to their prospective investors. Judging from sales at the booths they had set up before their presentations, they were going to beat those projections handily.

Now, these businesses aren't going to be the next Intel or Google. They ranged from Reuse, Recycle, Relax! (pillows, hot cocoa, and cookies) to Sparkle Pal Pops (lollipops and jewelry) to Sugar Rush (lemon bars, granola bars, and change purses). (Notice a pattern here? Come to think of it, maybe Yahoo! could gain back some market share on Google if it sold good things to eat, too.)

In any case, the girls' enthusiasm was infectious. My 6-year-old daughter, who complained all the way to the event, soon was clapping for the girls and at the end of the night proclaimed: "I want to have jobs like those girls!" Go, girl! Dad can use some extra income.

Update: Vivian Wu of TA Associates, one of the VCs on the panel, gave her own account at TechCrunch.

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