This Latina Entrepreneur Wanted A New Kind Of Conference
Victoria Jenn Rodriguez had just launched her career as an entrepreneur when she came across two realities — she needed a steadier revenue stream and she was craving authenticity in all the networking she was doing.
“The Female Collaborative was born out of the need to create a stream of income for myself,” explains Rodriguez. “I had experience in event planning, and knew I could make money from hosting an event. I have always been passionate about uplifting women so I invited some ladies to join me in creating an experience that eliminated the fluff and inauthentic vibes that normally take place at traditional female empowerment events. We called it the ‘Women Who Roar Summit.’ To my surprise, the event sold out in two months, attracting women from around the country.”
The quick turnaround on ticket sales helped Rodriguez realize that not only was there a need on the attendee side but there was also a desire on the side of corporations and brands to support grassroots initiatives like The Female Collaborative. Since its founding in 2017, the conference has landed sponsors like Comcast NBCUniversal, Breather, and Kearny Point.
For Rodriguez, nonetheless, it still always comes back to the women who attend and the needs they want met.
“Women were yearning to be a part of a progressive network where they could truly take off their masks, and be themselves, while learning, and connecting with fellow trailblazers,” explains Rodriguez. “Fast forward two years, and we are now a nonprofit focused on revolutionizing how women work and do business together.”
Beyond her own entrepreneurial desire, Rodriguez credits much of her success to her upbringing and roots.
“I like to think of my Latinidad as my secret weapon,” notes Rodriguez. “It’s my competitive advantage. My swag. It’s what allows me to stand out and be proud of who I am and what I represent. It has given me the confidence to pursue my dreams and take risks. Without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Below Rodriguez shares advice on what she’s learned about building out conferences.
Start with these 6 questions
Rodriguez suggests starting with these questions, “Why are you planning the conference? How will the organization benefit? What do you want attendees to walk away with? How will this event impact their lives? What makes this event different? Why would potential sponsors support this event?” Using these as your compass will help give you a point of reference during the planning process. “It’s important to have a solid foundation so when the pressure is on heavy, you stay grounded and focused,” adds Rodriguez.
Build relationships before you ask for sponsorship
“No one is going to write you a check if they don’t believe in your ability to execute and deliver,” notes Rodriguez. “Building relationships allows potential sponsors to get comfortable with you and respect what you are producing.” Taking your time to cultivate these relationships will ensure that potential sponsors know that with you at the helm you’re bound for success .
Decide on your nonnegotiables beforehand
Whether we’re talking about a new conference you want to start or a new career jump, making sure you know your nonnegotiables will help make sure that you feel good with every step you do take on the path. “Don’t ever risk the integrity of your mission, especially when things get hard,” shared Rodriguez. “Anything of value will take time to build and scale. Don’t allow fear or the opinions of others deter you from your core values. You know what you are capable of and what people need. Help the world see it.”
Make sure you’re centering what your attendees will walk away with
“At the Summit, attendees gained insight on the power that is in collaboration and what happens when we check the BS at the door, get out of each other’s way, and build legacies together” shared Rodriguez. No matter the decisions she made in the planning process, Rodriguez wanted her attendees to walk out of the conference feeling fulfilled and they did. “All of the women walked away feeling a special connection both within themselves and with the others in the room. It was magical,” shared Rodriguez.