The End of WeFestival

I should have written this a year ago but there was a small piece of me that did not want to call it a day but that time has passed.

The first WeFestival took place at NYU in January 2011.  It was Nancy Hechinger, my co-founder of this event, who is a professor at ITP (Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU) felt that there were not enough women in tech and was frustrated in her classroom when the gender balance was not 50/50.  I told her that there were plenty of women in tech, that women networked differently and they were many out there because I talk to them every single day.  That conversation was the beginning of an event that continued for six years from 2011-2016.

The first 5 years were held at NYU and in the 6th year, we moved the event out of NYU into the World Trade Center. We knew we were on to something with in the first 5 minutes of the 2011 event.  Nobody was doing what we were doing and women were hungry for it.  I am insanely proud of what we built for countless reasons.  The main reason is that the impact we made on female entrepreneurs is bigger than I realize and I say that because I continue to hear from women who attended one or many of these events.  We created a community, we created a place where women felt empowered, we created a place where many relationships were born from mentorships to business partners to just friends, we became a launching pad for several businesses, we created a place where the ticket prices were low enough that it was affordable, we created an intimate well-curated event, we created a place where women were felt validated, inspired and acknowledged.

After the 6th event, where my sister joined forces with me to build something outside of NYU, I got inspired to take this event on the road to LA and Berlin.  Perhaps it was the timing, the size, the cities we chose or the fact that so many others had now jumped into the ring of supporting female entrepreneurs that it became extremely difficult to find sponsors to support the event although the last one in NYC was amazing and profitable.  Truth be told, I was exhausted.  My bandwidth had hit the wall.

We put WeFestival on ice for a year and now it is time to close this chapter of my life.  Many have jumped into the arena of female entrepreneur events.  None of them are doing what we did as everyone comes from it a bit differently.   Yet, I hope to see all of them succeed in continuing to create events where women can congregate and learn from each other.

In the past, when each WeFestival event ended, I would go home feeling insanely exhilarated.  I would be walking around on air for days with this intense sense of heartfelt accomplishment because I saw with my own eyes the impact the events made on countless women.  I’d love to talk to anyone who has gone to one, two or multiple WeFestival events.  There are many stories to tell and quite frankly I’d like to document them.  The impact that WeFestival had on your careers, your lives and just your personal journey. It has certainly made an impact on mine. Please email me your story.  Perhaps these stores will be the next chapter.

And so, with much adieu, I bid WeFestival goodbye.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Pointsandfigures

    congrats. putting on events like that are not easy even though they look effortless from the outside.

  2. Sunchowder

    It was a fabulous event!

    1. Gotham Gal

      Thanks! I’d love to hear your experience and how it and if it changed you. Think about writing it.

  3. Laura Yecies

    Really enjoyed WEF – great collaborative feel. It was the right event at the right time and place for many years – I went to 3 and they were fabulous. And i think the market for such events has changed and you were smart to recognize it. Onwards and upwards.

    1. Gotham Gal

      thanks Laura. If you have any time to write something about the people you met, the people you stayed in touch with or how it changed you, that would be amazing.

  4. Matt Kruza

    yes, definitely congratulations on hosting an event like that and passionately supporting women in entrepreneurship. Also, sharing your thoughts on knowing the right to conclude it fits with some of your recent posts on when / how entrepreneurs can do so. Practicing what you preach is great! Congrats on the success and impact it is obvious you had

  5. awaldstein

    thanks for writing this.decisions are healing though always a challenge.

  6. Alison Winer Dinerstein

    It’s was WeFest that inspired me to start my business, to actually get out there and make something happen without the fear of failure. Hearing the different stories of success, mistakes and learning from those mistakes made me feellike people had my back and gave me the courage to press on everyday. I still refer to my notes from the very first event!Thank you and Congratulations, Joanne, for starting WeFest.

    1. Gotham Gal


  7. Bridget Goodbody

    I only attended the last WEFestival, but it was amazing. The thing I loved the most was how out-of-the-box it was. Such a variety of companies and a variety of women moving things forward. I echo the gratitude expressed below.

  8. William Mougayar

    well, you did pave the way with a number of WE events, and that legacy is something that is long lasting and that no one can take away from you.

    1. Gotham Gal

      very true!

  9. John Revay

    Hi Jo-anneWell – I never made it to the WE event in NYC – always followed them through your blog & recommended to several people that I know.All good thing eventually come to an end.Please enjoy the last days of summer 🙂