Thousands of women will be in Austin on Thursday, Oct. 15, for the 2015 Texas Conference for Women. For more than 16 years, this one-day gathering has provided a platform for women from all walks of life to network, find inspiration and hone professional skills.
Hundreds of speakers are scheduled, including nationally-known figures such as actress Patricia Arquette, television anchor Robin Roberts, community advocate Connie Chang and businessman Bert Jacobs. There’s an incredible array of local talent (see the list at the end of this article). The day is full of roundtable discussions, breakout sessions, book signings, exhibitions and even musical performances.
With so much going on, the day might seem overwhelming. The most challenging aspect may be deciding where to spend your time. Here’s just one of the successful local women lending her voice and experience to creating a memorable day at the 2015 Texas Conference for Women.
Kim Gorsuch, Founder and CEO of Weeva Inc.
Family inspired Kim Gorsuch to create Weeva Inc., a keepsake custom book business. Her ever hale and hearty father suddenly developed heart disease, his health deteriorating rapidly. Gorsuch was struck by how much she wanted to share with her father and just how difficult emotions made those conversations. The importance of gathering and preserving treasured memories before her father was gone became clear.
“How do you catch stories before they disappear?” Gorsuch recalled wondering. “There are things that are hard to say in the moment…and certain times in a person’s life when reading and writing are so much better than speaking. Text provides a ‘buffered space’…the lasting nature of it, a way to say ‘here’s you, and you matter.’”
Gorsuch pulled her family together to share stories and photographs via a website, and Weeva was born. Unlike image-focused uploading sites such as Shutterfly, the primary focus is not a visual image. The words are what matter.
“Pictures are the relic, not the story,” Gorsuch said. “It’s like writing love letters to someone. We wanted to create more connection and meaning in people’s lives.”
Weeva provides the method for anyone to make any type of book: memorials, celebrations (anniversaries, birthdays), company books, anthologies. The organizer signs up for a free, private page at Weeva.com and invites friends and family to contribute stories and photos. When the group collaboration is complete, Weeva’s team of editors and designers steps in to organize and polish the stories into a beautiful, art-quality book. Fees are collected when books are ordered. It’s designed to be an easy, painless process (if additional help is needed, that’s available, too).
The Art of Finding Funding
Weeva has benefited from Gorsuch’s extensive business background, gleaned from working with a variety of successful companies, from IBM to LendingTree to RealEstate.com. She’s passionate about sharing her experience and knowledge regarding best practices for generating startup funding, what Gorsuch described as “a game you have to be willing to play.” That’s why she’s leading a series of roundtable discussion at Texas Conference for Women from 3–4:30 p.m. on Thursday (Gorsuch will also be available at a mid-day “local leader” networking meet-up, with fellow presenters Karyn Scott and Magatte Wade).
“I’d like for people to come away [from that roundtable discussion] with a realistic sense of what it takes to raise capital,” Gorsuch said. “It’s a rite of passage. Finding funding for startups is extremely hard, and the process is not self-explanatory or really designed for ordinary people to navigate.” She likened it to a steeplechase: “as soon as an obstacle is cleared, a new one is placed in your path.”
Networking is an important component of successful startup funding, and Gorsuch emphasized emphatically how beneficial Texas Conference for Women can be. She has attended the last two years and was inspired by the mix of attendees and presenters. “There’s time to listen, think and connect the dots between diverse speakers,” she said.
This year, as Gorsuch steps into a mentor role, she’ll be continuing a legacy of sorts. She recalled how, as a new transplant to Austin some years ago, she met Eric Bear, founder and CEO of MONKEYmedia.Inc, at a SXSW meet-up. Bear introduced Gorsuch to a supportive community that she said has helped her greatly: Capital Factory. Located in the heart of downtown Austin (“the innovation zone”), Capital Factory’s mission is to help entrepreneurs, investors, talented creators and customers find one another and partner. It’s no wonder that Weeva, a startup that strives to “create more connections and meaning in people’s lives,” has found its home there.
Whether it’s the business aspect of startup funding, developing treasured keepsakes or discovering a mentor, Texas Conference for Women attendees will find something to stimulate growth. Gorsuch and the rest of the conference team are looking forward to the next chapter in this shared story.
Austinites to See at 2015 Texas Conference for Women
Many Austin women are participating in this year’s Texas Conference for Women. How many of the following will you meet?
- Cecilia Abbott (Texas’ First Lady)
- Colette Pierce Burnette (President, CEO of Huston-Tillotson University)
- Stephanie Carls (Twitter maven, Client Success Manager for Rivet)
- Mary Anne Connolly (Founder of MACMedia)
- Tara Trower Doolittle (Senior Editor, Austin American-Statesman)
- Heidi Gollub (Founder of Free Fun in Austin)
- Kim Gorsuch (Founder, CEO of Weeva, Inc.)
- Teri Gruca (Anchor at KVUE)
- Major MJ Hegar (soldier: three tour in Afghanistan, suit was instrumental in repeal of Combat Exclusion Policy)
- Lori Knowlton (Chief People Officer at HomeAway)
- Jane Ko (Editor in Chief of “A Taste of Koko” food blog)
- Judy Maggio (journalist, communications consultant)
- Kristin Neff (Associate Professor at The University of Texas at Austin)
- Martha Pincoffs (Founder of Hot Dang, Chair of Board of Directors of Adoption Advocates)
- Rochelle Rae (Founder of Rae Cosmetics)
- Deana Saukam (Co-owner, Media Director of Qui and East Side King)
- Karyn Scott (Founder of Kids in a New Groove, musical non-profit)
- Psyche Terry (Founder of Urban Intimates)
- Kathie Tovo (City Council Member)
- Renee Trudeau (author, stress management expert)
- Ingrid Vanderveldt (Founder, CEO of Empowering a Billion Women by 2020)
- Magatte Wade (Founder of Tiossan)
To register and find out more about the Oct. 2015 schedule and presenters, visit the 2015 Texas Conference for Women website’s Agenda page.
leahruns100 wants to know:
Imagine you have one-on-one time with one of this year’s speakers: Patricia Arquette, Candy Chang or Robin Roberts. What would you talk about?