by Cadran Cowansage1/16/2018
I’m excited to share an experimental project I’ve been working on at YC over the last 10 months. It’s called Elpha and it’s an online community for women in tech to talk about whatever we want. Elpha has ~1,500+ members who are founders, designers, marketers, software engineers, VCs, women in sales and operations, etc. Today, we are launching publicly – sign up here.
I started building Elpha because I didn’t have a place on the internet where I felt comfortable talking openly. I’ve found that some conversations online escalate to shouting matches quickly and many people opt out, especially women. I wondered what would happen if I created a community where the core culture was set by women, and the software and product decisions were also made by women. I couldn’t think of a social network defined that way, but I wanted to be part of one.
I first started thinking about a community for women in 2014, when I attended the first Female Founders Conference, hosted by YC founder Jessica Livingston. The conference was one of the few times I can recall spending an afternoon with hundreds of smart, talented women working in my industry. At that time I had only a few female friends working in tech, and it was clear from the conference that there were many more of us than I realized. I was inspired by the number of impressive female founders YC had funded, the even larger network of female employees at YC companies, and the even broader community of women consuming YC content. So when I started working at YC as a software engineer, I knew I wanted to build this community for myself and other women in tech.
Elpha members are discussing a broad range of topics – we’ve shared technical articles, startup questions, job opportunities, career connections, parenting issues and discussions about sexual harassment.
So far, the three things I most appreciate about Elpha are:
1. I’ve learned from women whose opinions I wouldn’t have otherwise heard.
2. Even when members have opposing views, they’ve given each other the benefit of the doubt and continue to talk productively.
3. Members are building on and offline relationships; they’ve found jobs, met mentors and made friends through the community.
If you identify as a woman and are interested in joining Elpha, please sign up for our beta here.
Please note that YC’s blog is still where Y Combinator will communicate with people about news and announcements specific to Y Combinator and the YC community.
Special thank you to Amy Buechler, Kat Manalac, Domonique Fines, Adora Cheung and Stephanie Simon for being my first users, and providing great feedback, advice and contributions to the community along the way.
Cadran Cowansage is a software engineer at YC.