Y Combinator’s women-only forum evolves into startup

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Navigating a career in Silicon Valley can be hard without the right connections and advice. For women, often outnumbered in tech workplaces, it can be even harder. There aren’t as many other women to help answer big questions: What’s a standard salary for my role? How do I bounce back from a career misstep? How do you find a mentor?

Cadran Cowansage, a 33-year-old software engineer, had a day job working at startup accelerator Y Combinator, but in 2017, she started to spend her nights and weekends building Leap, an online community for women in tech. She wanted to answer those questions and more—how to fire someone, how to handle difficult conversations, when to raise funding and which investors are most friendly to women. She launched the platform as a part of Y Combinator, but as it grew, Cowansage started thinking about making it a standalone business.

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