When it comes to running a successful business, Birdies co-founder Bianca Gates said mentorship and community are key.
“A lot of times what we need and what we lack is confidence. And I think we get that from each other, talking about it, cheering each other on, supporting each other and introducing each other,” Gates said during a panel at a Hispanic Heritage Month breakfast on Friday hosted by DealmakeHers, a network of leading female dealmakers. “We’re lacking those connections, especially as women. And I think we need more of those.”
Gates, a former Facebook employee, joined other Latina founders and businesswomen to discuss her journey, success and the importance of uplifting other women and minorities. Gates was joined by a panel of women including The Newsette Founder and Wondermind’s Co-Founder Danielle Pierson, Ceremonia Co-Founder Babba Rivera and more.
Gates, a first-generation American, said she learned about the power of mentorship and connection from Sheryl Sandberg, the former COO of Facebook, or Meta. Gates connected with Sandberg she was while working at Facebook and ended up being invited to her home with some other women in Silicon Valley to connect and share experiences and resources.
“It was very thoughtfully laid out conversation,” Gates said. “This was not just networking for networking’s sake, it was about really getting deep and creating deep connections so that you could leverage each other’s networks.”
Gates said that these conversations gave her the confidence to try new things and scale the experience to her own network of women. Using the framework Sandberg had laid out, Gates launched a similar group, which has been meeting every month for the last ten years.
“The idea is a call to action to create peer-to-peer mentorship circles,” Gates said.
Eventually, Gates was empowered to start Birdies while she was at Facebook and gradually turned her side hustle into a full-fledged business. Today, Gates aims to use the Birdies platform to uplift all women no matter their career path.
In addition to fostering a meaningful network, Gates said the secret to success is knowing you have a great business idea with the right elements to create long-term success.
“Build a business, focus on the right business, and a profitable business, and money will come,” she said.