Monday, April 16, 2012

First Quarter 2012 VC Firm Funding Lags

A recent article in the LA Times said that Venture Capital Fundraising in the U.S. dropped 35% in the first quarter of 2012.

However, the article goes on to say that despite that, the amount raised was the third highest since the "end of the recession." Additionally, they found that California leads the way in landing venture capital investment.

Despite the dip, growth is expected. Hopefully, that will mean more good companies being funded.

What does that mean for me and other women founders of start ups? I don't really know. Hopefully, funding to our companies will continue to grow despite significant lags behind male counterparts. Perhaps even, VCs and other investors may begin to see how we do business differently as a positive, not a negative. Maybe then (and only then?) will not only investments begin to see an upturn, but business and the economy in general might see an upswing.

Food for thought. Here's to getting more good companies funded, either way!

You can find me at and twitter @pilarstella.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Our Time Has Come...Women Founders

I thought I'd share this article from a group called Women 2.0 ( that is helping more women to become founders of start ups.

Being a woman founder of a technology start up is not a walk in the park. In fact, some days it is down right debilitating. But somehow I keep on because I am committed not only to the success of my own vision and start up (, but also to the broader movement of women's success - in business and in transforming the planet through business.

One of the stats that served as a reminder of the uphill battle we face is that less than 5% of technology startups are founded by women. And even less than that are funded by Venture Capitalists.

So what does that mean? We have to bootstrap more, we have to struggle more...yes to some degree. But how I see it, is we have to innovate more. We are women after all, we know how to innovate, adapt and change. THAT is what we are good at. We have been under capitalized, under resourced and honestly under valued (by ourselves as much as others) throughout history.

Now is our time to turn that around. It really is our time. Why? VCs and many businesses that were run by men have a very linear, transactional approach. This will get them so far. Often women owned business get criticized for being too multidimensional and not focused enough. But this is how we shine as women - multi-tasking and thinking about the interrelationships and interconnectivity of everything. This is our gift. So why try to shift our gifts into a package that men understand. What if we just learned to follow our gifts and use our talents at multidimensional approaches for success.

Look at the case of Sheryl Sandberg and of many startups. Before Sheryl, Facebook was doing great...but it hadn't mastered its monetization. Sheryl has helped Facebook to identify new revenue streams that aren't the traditional linear advertising approaches. She looked at the interconnectivity between Facebook and other partners to leverage those relationships, resources and transactions to find new opportunities to monetize Facebook.

These are the gifts that we as women bring. While it isn't the good ol' boy way of doing business, I believe it is the future. When investors and VCs start to see the trends in how women do business differently and don't discard them because it is being done differently, but embrace them, we might actually begin to see business change and the economy grow...for the better!

Here's to women founders of start or otherwise. Here's to BEing the change...our time has come!

You can find me at and twitter @pilarstella.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Secret Sauce is in Who I Am…Not What I Do!

Every day, I am finding myself more and more amazed at the power of me. I spent so much of my life living up to expectations. Whose expectations? My own expectations, those of others and even those that I thought others had of me.

I was given a healing years ago and at one point the healer whispered in my ear, “You are in a prison of your own making.” Wow the truth in those words broke me open. How had I been imprisoning myself with my own thoughts, rules…expectations?

A few years later I had a realization that I was afraid to be me – that is to fully express me – my light, my strength and my wisdom. Somehow, I realized that when I fully expressed who I was, people left. At least that is what I told myself. So I spent so much of my life doing things so people would love me, rather than being me. I did things at half of my light, to make sure they wouldn’t leave, or judge me.

Only recently have I begun to truly embrace the power of me and allow the light that is within me to shine bright. I have started to realize that I don’t have to DO anything. I know have been told that for a long time and I even have gotten it on an intellectual level. But it hasn’t been until the most recent days, weeks and months that I have viscerally, kinesthetically truly felt what that really meant and known that truth.

You see I still thought I had to do something. Even with my company, dream and vision of OneGiving®, I felt like I had to show or prove an idea…hence do something. Until recently, I realized I just have to be me…that my gifts come whether I am doing OneGiving®, consulting, surfing, smiling or whatever. And while I am committed to OneGiving®, the motivation and drive behind it has shifted. Inherently, the common denominator is not any one of those things, rather it is ME! Wow! Now that is a powerful thought…and that is the power of being me!

You can find me at and twitter @pilarstella.

Monday, December 19, 2011

My Tribute to the Crazy Ones...Never Stop Believing!

Some days I feel like that terrier who has taken hold of your pant leg and won’t let go. Am I crazy? Yeah probably! Do I wonder, on many, if not most, days if I should keep going and at what point do I stop? I get asked that question a lot and the only response I can think of is, “When I stop getting signs to keep going.” I don’t know when I’ll know, I just know that I’ll know. Being an entrepreneur is not for most. It reminds me of the quote that got resurfaced upon Steve Jobs’ death that he and Apple created a Video based on:

Here’s to the Crazy Ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have not respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world – are the ones who DO!

I don’t think I ever fully would have gotten it, if I wasn’t an entrepreneur. The life of an entrepreneur is not always easy, in fact some days it can be downright unbearably gut wrenching and painful…but I am pretty sure, if not now, for sure some day in the future I’ll look back and say “I wouldn’t have changed it for the world!”

That being said, it is not for everybody and it takes a special kind of person, indeed a crazy kind of person, who has a stomach of steel, who can take all the NO’s in stride and keep getting back up and trying again. There are many peaks and valleys in the life of an entrepreneur and most of the time, it is the little reminders and “godwinks,” that keep us going.

I recently had one of those moments when a friend sent the quote from the WSJ obituary of Ted Forstmann. At the 25th anniversary of Forstmann Little & Company (a private equity firm), guests received an engraved silver tray with the quote:

The entrepreneur, as a creator of the new and a destroyer of the old, is constantly in conflict with convention. He inhabits a world where belief precedes results, and where the best possibilities are usually invisible to others. His world is dominated by denial, rejection, difficulty, and doubt. And although as an innovator, he is unceasingly imitated when successful, he always remains an outsider to the 'establishment.'

Words I could not have expressed more perfectly. Over and over in my career, I have witnessed as investors have said NO or clients have looked at me – or others – as if we had three heads...this disconnect between what we as entrepreneurs see and what others can imagine. I am continuously amazed (and even appalled) at those who claim to support entrepreneurs, but turn away the best ideas and champion the known, safer, quantities. Yet later, when those “alien” entrepreneurs become successful, those same people come back around and act as though they believed in them from the beginning, rather than having the courage as the entrepreneurs to provide meaningful support from the start.

I remember breathing a sigh of relief when I heard about Tim Westergren who maxed out 11 credit cards and pitched Pandora 348 times before raising enough capital to build his business – thinking to myself, “Well, I’m not there…yet” (and hopefully, I won’t ever be)!

But I remember reading the book Founders at Work by author Jessica Livingston who quoted Howard Aiken...

Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats.

Some days I just don’t get it. I feel like I am standing in a room with a total no-brainer and I am jumping up and down and no one can see or hear me, like I am a social pariah or I don’t exist. It is like I am the pink elephant in the room and no one wants to be reminded of that, so they turn their heads in denial or pass me on to the next person like a hot potato. Investors say they want another Steve Jobs' and iPhone but they want it to look like Bill Gates or a Blackberry, something that they know or are familiar with. There is a complete disconnect.

And yet, there are those who when you meet them, there is a moment of recognition. Perhaps it is that acknowledgement of one “crazy one” to another or the recognition of light that you bring. They meet you and they are inspired to help. They reach into their rolodex, they send a quote or other vote of confidence, or other bag of tricks and they support you in whatever way they can! It is those moments, that as an entrepreneur keep you going.

That and the reminder of what you are trying to do. You see us “crazy ones” see things differently. We recognize an opportunity or a window to make things better, to change things and we commit our time, resources and lives to seeing that come to fruition. There is no other explanation for the abuse and rejection we go through – other than a labor of love and a persistent belief, faith and commitment to a better future and possibility for more than just ourselves.

That is how it has been in my own journey. Never in a million years, did I ever imagine it would be this difficult to create a product that could so massively transform the status quo, when the world is crying out for reform on every level and within every institution – business, finance, health care, politics, education, marriage, war, etc. It makes me realize every day how afraid of change people are – even when that change means more light, more hope, more possibility – perhaps even more so because it means just that and they are used to the darkness. Some days I don't understand how it is possible that something that is such a no brainer, could be so hard to convince people of.

Then I am reminded of the game changers before me…Galileo, Einstein, the Wright Brothers…they were scoffed at, ridiculed, even imprisoned…but in the end, they changed the game and they shifted paradigms. They believed they could change things…and they did! And so in my hours of darkness, I remember them and I am reminded to keep believing and I continue be a of the "crazy ones." And I applaud and urge the other "crazy ones" to continue believing, because "Believing is seeing," rather than "Seeing is believing." I encourage you to keep getting back up and to keep on keeping on...because the world needs more of you...the world needs more of us!

You can find me at and twitter @pilarstella.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Looking Back at 2011 to Look Forward to 2012

As I reflect back on the year of 2011 for me, I can appreciate all that I have learned and gotten out of this year. I have accomplished a lot and also failed a lot. I am grateful for both. I have taken risks, which have taught me lessons, I might never have learned had I never tried. Over and over, I have been reminded to truly appreciate the moments and lessons along the journey - no matter how wonderful or painful - for they each come with their own gifts!

So I share with you a look back at 2011. I am sharing 12 memories or lessons, that inspired, informed or shaped my life in some way. I have categorized them across physical, mental, spiritual and emotional realms as I believe that balance in our lives is like the four tires of a car across these realms. If one or more tires are out of balance, then my whole life can get a little rocky and imbalanced. As I strive to find more balance in my life, here are 12 lessons, from 2011, to inform more peace and harmony in my life for 2012! (I know this is a lot of information, but it is a recap, so check out what you want, discard the rest!)

Mental (Intellectual/Biz)

  1. A VC's wisdom. I have to say, I am not the biggest fan of all VC's (Venture Capitalists to some, Vulture Capitalists to others ;). However, that being said, one VC that stands out and writes remarkable, informative blog posts is Fred Wilson. He writes almost every day and shares wisdom from his daily experience as a VC that are insightful. His blog is and a recent blog post and video that stood out for me was about business and sustainability that is long, but worth watching, particularly the last few minutes if you have it in you:
  2. Women as a Force for Good. Being that I am a woman in business, I am extremely passionate about our place in business, technology, startups, and investing to both transform business, but also have an impact on the planet. We are the voices for a new sustainable, responsible and conscious capitalism that can make business a force for good! Here are some of my blogs and other interesting articles reminding us of the power (and limitations) of women worth checking out can be found in my recent blog: The Next Steve Jobs...A Chick!
  3. The loss of Steve Jobs. Whether you liked him or not, Steve Jobs's passing this year was a loss of a great mind. My favorites included his tribute to The Crazy Ones and his Stanford Graduation Address. But for the good, there was also the not as well known Dark Side of Jobs. And finally, my favorite a recent article about the next Steve Jobs being a CHICK...Amen to that!


  1. Sugar is bad, mKay?! I know I probably won't win a popularity award condemning sugar around the holidays, but it is worth knowing ALL of the negative implications of sugar and some better alternatives, including: Xylitol and Stevia. More at my Sugar Blog.
  2. Food Matters. What you put in your body - matters - you are what you eat! Evidence shows that every cell in our bodies is replaced somewhere between every year to within seven years. Given that, the implications of studies by Masaru Emoto on water, and the film Food Matters, our bodies are impacted by our thoughts, the food we eat and supplements, so remember to take better care of your body! More at my blogs: You are What You Eat and Supplements for Thought.
  3. Surfing, a great metaphor for life. My passion for surfing has translated into so many lessons in my life. It reminds me to keep getting up, even when I'm knocked down, to have patience, to be present and to be persistent and perseverant. More at my Surfing Blog.


  1. Giving Back. The earthquake in Japan early in the year set the tone for the year - one of giving, one of deep shifts in our planet's consciousness, and the recognition that we are all connected. Giving's visibility and impact grew throughout the year, which leaves us with reminders that in giving we receive! Some of my blogs on Japan and a three part series giving this year include: Giving for Thought-Japan; Look at Giving Part 1, Giving Part 2, Giving Part 3.
  2. Occupy Wallstreet. While some might not put this in the spiritual category, I am putting it here because it is a call for more consciousness and responsibility in finance, business and government. The movement of OccupyWallSt can be tracked at their website: Though some of the most powerful moments from the Occupy movement recently that occurred at UC Davis were captured both in Words and in Pictures. Of A good reminder that even in a "free country" and the "greatest democracy on earth," we still have to stay awake and make sure that our freedoms don't get widdled away. Democracy requires consciousness on each of our parts to stay awake and stand up, when necessary, for what we believe in to make this world a better place.
  3. The Power of Meditation and the Aquarian Age. Whether you are a believer or not, increasing evidence is coming out about the benefits of meditation - not only to relieve stress, but actually to heal and to improve our efficiency in life and in business (Got Meditation Blog). Additionally, we have entered the Aquarian Age, which is about bringing more balance, feminine energy and healing to the planet (Aquarian Age Blog). Some of my blogs remind us to Breathe, Pay it Forward, and Leave Everything Better Than When You Found It!


  1. Joy and Laughter. Life just wouldn't be the same without giggles, laughter and joy. So don't forget to have a sense of humor! Here are two funny reminders that made me laugh this year: a Letter to Ryan Gosling that definitely got a giggle out of me and some of my friends ;) and a Video Compilation of parents playing tricks on their kids for Halloween, funny! Laughter - pass it on!
  2. Overcoming Fear. I recently read a quote by Michael J. Fox: "The only thing that separates any one of us from excellence is fear and the opposite of fear is faith." It was a good reminder that in order to overcome our fears, we have to face our fears and go through them (or around them), but not let them stop us - as was my Super P Rappel Against Cancer. Sometimes we have to allow ourselves to feel the fear and even let it slow us down - Even Superheroes Have Bad Days! Just as long as we remember to get back up afterwards!
  3. All you need is LOVE. This year hasn't been a big one for me for finding love outside of myself, but it was a good one for finding love within, accepting myself unconditionally and even falling in love with myself. In doing so, I also have realized how important love really is all you need and meeting someone who loves you ain't so bad either...I guess that's something to look forward to in 2012! Perhaps I am learning the Keys to the Castle. And if not, I've always got the Beatles to remind me!

Happy Holidays and New Year! May 2012 be your best year yet!

You can find me at and twitter @pilarstella.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Next Steve Jobs...A Chick!

I recently read an article entitled, "The Next Steve Jobs Will Be A Chick!"

It really hit home for me! The article was based on a conversation with comedian Louis C.K. who has two daughters and his tribute to our feminine future. It was funny and touching at the same time. Given all the research out there on women in business and technology (Women in Biz, Tech, Startups and Investing Blog), his prediction is likely not far off either!

Being a woman in business, in technology and in a start up, seeking capital for my for-profit company, OneGiving, to create sustainability and social responsibility for corporations and sustainable revenues for nonprofits, I believe as women in business, we are poised to lead the next generation of business leaders. I am not the only one...

The Dalai Lama predicted that the Western Women will Save the World (Women as a Force for Good Blog). An Illuminate Ventures Report by Founder Cindy Padnos wrote, "Women entrepreneurs are poised to lead the next wave of growth in global business." And Jensine Larsen in an article in World Pulse Magazine posited, "Women manage money differently [than men], and had there been more women at the helm of investment decisions all along, the worst of the global financial meltdown might have been averted."

Given that, I thought I'd highlight a few of the articles from 2011 that I have read re: women in business, technology and beyond that may shed perspective on Louis C.K.'s prediction that the next Steve Jobs will be a Chick!

Let's start with Forbes Top 100 Women, which gives a list of some of the most powerful women in business and politics, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Melinda Gates, Indian President Sonia Gandhi, and First Lady Michelle Obama, demonstrating women's reach and leadership in top roles around the globe.

The article Why Women Make Excellent Entrepreneurs in the Digital Age, highlights some of the latest data on women in the workforce and entrepreneurs, including the fact that in 2010, women became the majority of the U.S. workforce for the first time in the country's history and highlighting that now 57% of college students are women. Further, women are advancing in entrepreneurship with an increase in the number of women-owned firms from 1997-2011 by 50% as compared with a 25% increase in male-owned firms, which has allowed businesses owned by females to reach 49% of U.S. firms.

An article on What Men Can Learn From Women About Leadership predicts that the most successful leaders of the future will make employees feel safe and valued, emphasize cohesiveness, openness, inclusiveness and respect, and foster true networked collaboration. Women are poised for this type of leadership (as highlighted in the New Yorker article about Sheryl Sandberg) with the ability to identify nonverbal cues, listen, make eye contact and build trust and collaboration.

With all of the pros and evidence that women's place in business and in leadership, there are still many factors limiting women's rise through the ranks. A recent Wall Street Journal Article asked, "Where the Ladies At?" in the VC world and wrote that despite the lack of representation of women in the Venture Capital space, there are three VC firms seeking to help female entrepreneurs, including: Illuminate Ventures, Women's Venture Capital Fund, and Valencia Ventures. Additionally, Golden Seeds is a network of angel investors funding early stage companies founded and/or led by women and Astia is community of experts committed to building women leaders and accelerating funding and growth to women-led startups.

Even with those examples, we still have a long way to go. Women's Startups still Lack Access to Capital as women are learning the good ol' boy's game and still are learning "to ask." Further, some of the Worst Stereotypes about Powerful Women don't help women who are perceived as powerful get ahead. And, women have been known to Stunt Their Own Careers, including by being overly modest, not asking, by blending in and by remaining silent.

Whatever the case may be, the question remains, do women need to become more like men or can they authentically be themselves AND get ahead at the same time? My money is betting on that the more WE women stick to our guns and show that we can BE ourselves, share our creativity, vision and leadership potential, and rock the business world, we will show that the next Steve Jobs won't just be a Chick, but a WOMAN!

You can find me at and twitter @pilarstella.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Sugar is BAD, mKAY?

I feel like the teacher from Southpark…(Southpark video 1 and video 2). But instead of “Drugs are Bad, mKAY?”…I’m saying, “Sugar is BAD, mKAY?” I feel like the bad guy breaking the news, especially during the holidays! But I thought it was important to share the information so that perhaps, you might consider going a little easier on sugar for the holidays and who knows, maybe you'll get inspired and let it go all together for the new year, or at least reduce your regular intake of sugar and make it for very special occasions. Moderation is key, right?

I think it is something that we all know, but I don’t think many of us realize HOW BAD sugar really is. In addition to its more known evils (weight gain, hyperactivity, tooth decay), research has shown (141 reasons article and 146 reasons article) that sugar can weaken eyesight, impair the structure of DNA, change the structure of protein, lower the enzymes ability to function, damage the pancreas, increase fluid retention, compromise the lining of the capillaries, suppress the immune system, reduce learning capacity, and slow the ability of the adrenals to function.

Further, sugar can cause premature aging, arthritis, asthma, gallstones, heart disease, appendicitis, multiple sclerosis, varicose veings, hemorrhoids, food allergies, cataracts, emphysema, atherosclerosis, headaches, migraines, loss of tissue elasticity and function, depression, hormonal imbalances, kidney stones, epileptic seizures, and constipation.

Finally, sugar also feeds cancer, so it can lead to cancer of the ovaries, play a role in pancreatic cancer in women, increase the risk of gastric cancer, lead to prostrate cancer, increase the risk of breast and stomach cancers, cause endometrial cancer, cancer of the rectum, renal carcinoma and liver tumors.

So what are your alternatives?

My preferences and recommendations are Xylitol and Stevia. Here’s a little information about each:

Xylitol is found in different fruits and vegetables, such as plums, berries and mushrooms as well as from birch trees and bark, and is produced naturally in the body. While it has the same sweetness as sugar, it has 40% fewer calories, 75% fewer carbohydrates, a low glycemic index of 7 with minimal effects on blood sugar. It is actually not considered a “sugar,” because it doesn’t display any of the negative insulin release effects as sugar. Additionally, Xylitol has been shown to reduce the risk of dental disease by killing bacteria tied to tooth decay and has other anti-bacterial, viral and fungal properties. Because of this, switching over to using Xylitol can lead to some initial digestive discomfort, but this is only because of the bad bacteria and viruses that it may be killing off initially. So upon continued use, any discomfort will pass. Finally, Xylitol is approved by the World Health Organization, European Union and Food and Drug Administration. Xylitol is my favorite alternative to sugar. Here are a few articles on Xylitol: Xylitol article, Ezine article, Zhion article, and Xyloburst article.

Stevia is an herb from the Chrysanthemum family. Stevia is significantly sweeter than sugar, but has negligible effects on blood glucose. There is even some research that it has anti-plaque benefits, but not to the levels of xylitol. The FDA is ambiguous about Stevia as it allows it to be imported as a food supplement but not a sweetener and defines Stevia as an unapproved food additive. Stevia may be used in cooking and baking, but may not caramelize like sugars. Stevia may also have a slightly bitter after taste. Some articles include: Wikipedia Stevia and

There is much discussion, and use, of agave nectar, but I am not a fan as how it is metabolized is much like sugars, corn syrup and honeys, so it negatively impacts your blood sugar and insulin levels, can feed bacteria, virus and fungi in your system and hence lead to more significant negative health consequences. A series of articles by Dr. Merkola explains more about why agave is bad, and possibly even worse than high fructose corn syrup (Merkola Article 1 and Article 2). Another Agave article that is not necessarily based on hard science or from a solid source, brings up some interesting and valid perspectives that are worth considering.

That is a little food for thought on sugar and its alternatives. Sugar is bad, Agave is not so good, whereas Xylitol is best, Stevia is another good alternative. So consider letting go of sugar in the new year and replacing it with something a little better for your body…it might just do your body, your health and your soul GOOD!

You can find me at and twitter @pilarstella.