We Call It Pomegranate.
And want to invite you.
For the past year, we’ve been hosting invite-only feedback salons for women in creative tech. We started it for fun. We started it to hang out with smart women. We’ve seen it help good ideas grow, and now we want to make it bigger.
Pomegranate salons strengthen exciting work from one woman with the help of 12 more. A presenter shares a project, then we moderate a private round-table with experts outside her network. This group asks questions, offers connections, and shares responses. Subject matter has ranged from the future of the quantified self to ability-inclusive fashion design to fixes for fake news.
We make it personal. It’s more of a dinner party than a networking event. We curate our guest list. We aim to entertain every attendee. And yes, one woman receives direct feedback, but everyone gets exposure to new, relevant people and ideas.
Past participants have nice things to say. Callie Schweitzer of Thrive Global said, “I loved the experience and that it felt like a really open and collaborative environment.” Data artist Laurie Frick told us, “The size of the group is perfect for a real conversation, and sitting around a table was even more conducive to conversation.” Sreoshy Banerjea, cofounder of Refynd, says it made her, “feel OK to be vulnerable, and at a crossroads.” A presenter we’ll keep anonymous is in funding talks with VCs thanks to Pomegranate connections.
We’ve organized a dozen of these so far, reaching over 200 women and working with hosts like Google, the Whitney, and Artsy.
Now, we’d like to invite more women host and join Pomegranate salons in New York. If we’ve already convinced you, fill out our contact form here. Or read on for more about what we do and why.
What We Do
A year of testing has helped us develop best practices for making Pomegranate authentic, helpful, and fun. When new organizers come on, we share these guidelines with them. Here’s what we aim for:
Guide conversations towards vulnerability.
One of our first presenters shared what was basically an investor pitch. It focused on what was going well. But vulnerability opens up the conversation. So we guide presenters to share their challenges. We coach them to discuss uncertainties and ask specific questions that will help them move forward. This invites the attendees to solve problems, and helps prepare presenters for higher-stake feedback later.
Create real diversity in the guest list.
Don’t put out an open call. Don’t just tap friends. Assemble a unique mix of subject-matter experts for every salon. Shoot for a well-rounded mix of backgrounds and perspectives. Find people who are very senior as well as fresh out of school. They shouldn’t all be in tech, either. For example, a media-tech salon might include a UX designer, a senior arts editor, an ad-tech entrepreneur and a data scientist. Don’t know those people? Ask for introductions. Make cold calls. And if every woman is white, you did it wrong.
Get outside the normal routine.
We host our events at a weird time — 8 am — and find new, interesting locations for each one. You can do your own version of this. Throw people outside of normal routines and spaces to open a different mental state.
Make sure people connect.
Bring breakfast. Introduce everyone in the room. Keep presentations at 5–10 minutes. Then spend most of the time discussing the project and how it might move forward. Afterwards, send an intro email so attendees can keep talking.
Why It Works
We started it for fun. But as we’ve refined our process, we’ve thought about why this adds to the current women-in-tech offerings in a meaningful way.
It reframes the women-in-tech issue.
There are too many events about women in tech that don’t really do anything for women in tech. We don’t want to be another group that only talks about what’s wrong. We want to highlight women with exciting companies and creative projects, and help make their ideas better with a group of equally impressive women.
It’s a limited commitment.
There are many groups that help advance women in tech. But not everyone can commit to projects like teaching women to code, mentoring at accelerators, or bringing computer science classes to girls in grade schools. Pomegranate salons ask smart, busy women to contribute as little as one hour.
These salons are a professional help not just for presenters, but also attendees. Women across age groups, industries, and experience levels get a chance to share expertise, meet new people, and see ideas on the rise.
It requires brainpower instead of networking.
A project to casually collaborate on inspires more organic connections than the embarrassing mania of networking events.
The last year of Pomegranate salons have shown us that the challenges women face feel more approachable when we’re working on projects in concrete terms. But we need your help. We’re looking for collaborators who can help put more salons together. It’s fun, it’s a great way to meet people, and we can guide you through how to do it. Not sure you can come up with a solid group of 12? Don’t know how to get a cool space to host? We can help with that stuff.
If you’re not looking to organize, there’s still room for you here: join us for a salon, bring one to your office or organization, suggest someone with a great project to present, or buy us breakfast :)
Big thank you to Kristine Francisco for designing our cute logo. Thanks also Cody Brown, Kieran Murray, Nishat Kurwa, Caroline Howard, Jenny Fielding, Kate Christensen, Gloria Noel, Joe DePrey, and Sarah Batchu for reading drafts as we figured out how to describe our secret club for a wider audience. Thank you to all the hosts, presenters and attendees who have helped us grow so far.