Prospective entrepreneurs don’t need the “aha moment,” said Jules Pieri, co-founder and CEO of The Grommet, a venture that launches undiscovered products.
“The insecurity around those decisions is endemic,” said Pieri on Wednesday night in the Raytheon Amphitheater during Northeastern’s Women who Inspire Speaker Series. “It’s a hard decision to start anything. So I always think back to the times when I tested myself, survived, and gained that inch of confidence. “
Launched just over a year ago, the Speaker Series was created to empower the next generation of female leaders, provide direct access to industry professionals, promote individual networking, support corporate partnerships, and develop female leadership cohort groups.
“I think the series speaks to the real appetite that we have in our community to see and hear from really successful women, to be inspired by them, to learn lessons from them, and have a chance to network,” said Senior Vice President for University Advancement Diane MacGillivray in her welcoming remarks.
The event was part of Northeastern’s annual celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week, an international celebration of innovators and entrepreneurs. GEW at Northeastern includes a number of interactive events hosted by the Center for Entrepreneurship Education.
Pieri was joined on the panel by Dr. Vanessa Kerry, co-founder and CEO of Seed Global Health, a nonprofit that partners with the Peace Corps to build a capacity of health systems in resource-limited countries by deploying health professionals to Africa as educators; and Diane Hessan, founder and chair of Communispace Corporation and CEO of Startup Institute, a pioneer in creating online communities to help marketers generate consumer insights.
Their discussion was moderated by Pamela Goldberg, the first female to lead the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. She asked the panelists to share some of the challenges they faced when they started a new company.
Kerry, the daughter of Secretary of State John Kerry, noted that when she decided to start an organization that would inspire social change, she realized she was actually starting a business.
“I still have no idea how to start a business,” Kerry said, “and it has been very humbling for me because as a doctor you really want to be in control. When you are starting a business that is not the case at all. You are relying on other people to help you.”
During the Q-and-A with the audience, one attendee asked the panelists to give advice to entrepreneurs searching for female co-founders. Hessan said that it’s important to attend events and meetings where they can find the kind of people they are looking to work with.
“If you are a Northeastern student and you are an entrepreneur looking for a co-founder, go to the Entrepreneurs Club meetings because your co-founder is likely to be in that room,” Hessan said. “Look for people that you can trust, who are just as passionate as you are, and who compliment your skills.”