Why the 10th anniversary of the Women in Tech Summit is a success for the startup Philly

It sounds like the beginning of most startup stories: the rambling founders who discovered a better solution to an existing problem and put the time and effort into creating the change.

The Women in Technology Summit (WITS) started 10 years ago right here in Philadelphia, with an event in University City, led by a volunteer group of female technologists and entrepreneurs inspired to change the status quo of the tech community. In 2012, after its first event, the Philly Women in Technology Summit, as it was then called, won a Philly Geek Award for the best event of the year. It was just the beginning …

WITS is the only technical conference with all female speakers. It offers programming designed to educate, inspire and connect women working in technical and non-technical roles in all areas of technology at all levels of their careers. Since that first year, it has grown to stand in multiple parts of the United States, as well as virtually, serving thousands of women and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for nonprofit tech education. TechGirlz annually.

A lot of people will watch WITS and only see a lecture. They probably won’t see that it is, and has always been run like a Philly startup. They also may not see that this is a big achievement in Philadelphia. So let’s take a look at what we often use to define a startup’s success in Philly: growth, revenue, name recognition, and customer retention.

Growth: CHECK – How about consistent year-over-year growth of over 800% in 10 years, plus expansion nationally, then globally with the addition of virtual events ?

Returned: CHECK OUT – WITS did not raise any funding, but increased ticket and sponsorship revenue to cover operating expenses, the transition from volunteers to full-time employees and contractors, and more than a half – million dollars have been donated to TechGirlz over the past nine years.

Name recognition: CHECK – WITS has been recognized on several occasions as one of the best conferences for women in technology in the world.

Consumer loyalty: CHECK OUT – WITS averages a 35-40% participant return rate per summit.

At the Women in Tech Summit 2017. (Photo by Beth Finn)

Whatever your determining factors for a successful Philly startup, WITS hasn’t just met them, WITS has probably passed them all. WITS illustrated all of the other attributes that Philly startups are known for:

  • Seed, or make the most of the least money, resources, personnel, etc.
  • Perseverance, or never give up, no matter what the obstacles
  • Always on the lookout for the next opportunity, while always being careful that the next opportunity is the right one
  • Follow the lead of our founding mothers and fathers, assess the risks and take action that others might not want to take
  • Always putting our community and our customers first, always listening, always listening, always making choices and decisions based on their needs and feedback

And most importantly, always lead with a balance of vision, mind, heart and soul for the short and long term.

As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of WITS, we’re not just celebrating 10 years of a women in tech conference. We are celebrating 10 years of building and growing a successful Philly startup. One, like many, who started with an idea on the back of a briefcase and an email thread, and has grown into an organization with global recognition, positive cash flow and a bright future.

Happy 10th anniversary, WITS!


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